Sally Benson’s Priceless Gift

It was an emotional moment for Sally Benson’s family. The long-time violinist with the NAC Orchestra passed away earlier this year after a very brief struggle with cancer. Her sister Jean said she was thrilled when she read Sally’s will and saw that she wanted her priceless violin, a 1761 Landolfi valued at $218,000 to be given to the Department of Music at the University of Ottawa.

Sally bought the violin in New York City years ago, and her family was worried that it might end up not being played at all.

“We all feared that it might end up on a shelf somewhere, it’s a beautiful instrument and the whole family is thrilled that lucky students will be able to play this violin in the future,” said Jean Benson.
“Sally had many friends who taught at the University of Ottawa, and while she didn’t do much teaching, she believed in building the next generation of musicians.”

“When you play an instrument like this, you feel like the old masters are calling you, asking you to rise in your playing,” said Rennie Regehr a Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the University of Ottawa.

The University has a small collection of instruments, including 5 other violins, but nothing that would compare to Sally Benson’s gift.

“It will be the pinnacle of our collection,” said Regehr. The University is planning to loan the instrument to its best third year or fourth year music student on a rotational basis so that many students have the opportunity to play such a fine violin.