Brook Wallace and the Stradivarius

When 13 year old Brook Wallace and her family were invited to perform at the Fort Worth Stockyards for the Texas Independence Day Gala one year, little did she realize how it would turn out. The fundraising event is in support of the Cowtown Opry and works in the Fort Worth area to highlight cowboy music and its inherent culture. The CEO of DAVOIL petroleum consortium, Bill Davis, was in the audience watching Brook perform with her family and sent her a message telling her what an excellent impression her fiddling had left on him. He learned that Brook was an old time fiddling champion with a number of other awards commemorating his performances and asked if she would have to meet with him, requesting an audience. Upon meeting her, he was rather effusive in his praise for her talent and performance on the violin. Davis invited her to his office the next day, asking that she bring her fiddle and bow along and hinting that he might have something of interest to her. Brook agreed although, although she really wasn’t sure what to expect upon her visit.

Brook Wallace

Nevertheless, she and her father went to Fort Worth the next day to the DAVOIL offices and kept their appointment with Davis. When they arrived they found the office staff assembled in the waiting room and Brook was asked if she would perform for them so that they, too, might enjoy here extraordinary talents. She played “Sally Johnson” with her father accompanying her on the guitar to the 30 employees that thoroughly enjoyed the impromptu entertainment. Davis said that he had a violin that he would like hear her play on and when Brook agreed, he produced a beautiful, authentic Stradivarius. Made in 1710 and one of most valuable violins remaining, the instrument was said to be valued at over $4 million and it had been in Davis’ possession for over 20 years. Davis had been loaning the instrument to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra over this time period to assist the orchestra in attracting quality violinists.

Davis suggested that she let the instrument experience some old time fiddle playing, something he suspected had never happened with this particular Stradivarius and Brook obliged, vivaciously launching into a rendition of “Sally Goodin” and followed by many other swing, jazz, hoedown and rags for the better part of an hour. As she grew more familiar with the Strad, her playing continued to take on a greater quality.

Everyone had a wonderful experience when Brook Wallace played that day at DAVOIL. Davis was rapt to see the instrument played with such skill and joy, Brook loved the experience of playing on such a rare and quality piece and the audience were quite appreciative. Even the Stradivarius itself sounded happier than it had ever been. Davis offered to lend her the violin the next time she wanted to make a recording and she has agreed to take him up on that, when the time comes. Brook’s father ventured that for any fiddler to have the opportunity to even hold an instrument of that calibre was a dream come true and for a 13 year old fiddler, it would be a memory that would stay with her all the days of her life.

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