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Richmond Symphony

Sonata in Blue : The Concept


I was recently approached by the Richmond Symphony - they wanted to start an Arts program, similar to other major cities, in which local artists create a piece using an old instrument that can no longer be played. That piece would then go to auction, benefiting the Richmond Symphony. It provides exposure for the artists involved, creates a cultural experience for everyone and benefits the symphony in the process.

What's not to love? They originally didn't think a LEGO artist would be interested in this, but as a long-shot I got the call.

The other artists learned about the project in February and had 5 months to plan and design their pieces. I had about 10 days. Here is my story.

Picking up the Violin

Brian Korte artist

My love for the violin goes way back. I love that its sound can be played sweetly, somberly, happily and (in the case of an orchestral performance) beautifully. When we got to choose our stringed instrument, I went right for the violin.

Someone had left this behind for one reason or another, and it was deemed unplayable. I picked it up at the Symphony office and that day took a look... it took a lot of long, hard looking to decide what I wanted to do. When I got some ideas, I hit the hardware store.

the Ginsu Treatment

richmond art

After debating what to do with the violin, I went through several rough drafts in my head. Would I stick LEGOs to the violin and create a mosaic on top of the piece? How would they shape around the rounded edges of the instrument? What if I could mount the violin on a mosaic and wrap the LEGOs all around it?

Either way, I'd need to cut into the violin. In order to smooth out the bottom, I'd have to hack it off with a coping saw. This proved to be quite difficult and took a lot of time. I got that done, and also cut the bottom at an angle so it could lay flat (the neck typically hangs lower than the violin)

Masking & Painting

richmond symphony art brian korte

Still not knowing exactly what was going to happen, one thing I knew I wanted to do was make this a bold project. I found a brilliant blue paint at the hardware store, and that moment KNEW that the violin was going to be blue. Why? Didn't know. Didn't care. It was going to be bold and blue.

I masked off the black parts of the violin and then applied the blue paint everywhere. I let the piece hang on my deck while I thought about the next steps indoors.

The trip to Ohio


Wow! The painted violin looked so cool when I peeled off the masking tape.

Okay - now... what to do with the LEGO art. That question weighed heavily on my mind. I had a wedding to attend in Ohio and decided to pack up the blue violin, along with lots of LEGO bricks in various colors and my toolbox, since I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I'd have 8 hours in the car to figure it out.

I got the the West Virginia line when it hit me... My "Sonata in Blue" was going to be very simple, very bold, and show off LEGO as well as just be art for art's sake. I brought my concept to Ohio and quickly got to work on the layout design.

Zebra Striping

richmond symphony progress photo

The clock was ticking. The entire project was due in two days, back in Virginia. I was in Ohio, with a family wedding ongoing. While the family partied on the back deck at my Uncle's place, I was in his garage, cutting up the baseboard and preparing a frame for the final piece.

The blue violin sat in its case while I continued to cut. I had a plan... and later that night my cousins and I started working on building the zebra-striped background for "Sonata in Blue"

Angie and Will

richmond symphony lego mosaic

Here's a cool shot of Angie and Will working on the mosaic - I needed a break after being up so late the night before. I was running on very little sleep, due to the tight deadline. They were such a big help!! (oh, and be sure to check out their pictures on the helpers page.

Mosaic progress


After plenty more beer and cherries, we needed to get some sleep for the big day. My cousin's wedding went great, and we returned home. I quickly got out the LEGO parts again and kept building. My cousin Angie was a big help too - we raced through it!

Mounting the Violin


After a few more hours in the garage, the mosaic was completed and now I had to carefully drill through it to mount the violin to the base. This proved to be daunting, since no plans or guides would accurately lay this out (too many curves) and I only had one shot at perfection.

I took my time, which was easy since I was so exhausted. I plunked it down, drilled in from behind, and BAM - the violin was perfectly mounted on the base. I stepped back for a minute with a big smile and was very pleased with the outcome.

"Sonata in Blue"

sonata in blue by brian korte, lego artist in richmond virginia

With the LEGO art completed, I hung it on my Uncle's wall and stood next to Will (a big help) and Tatiana, who kept me company while I worked on the drilling. I think they both got a kick out of seeing this project really bare fruit.

With the piece complete, I headed on the road from Ohio to Richmond, VA. It was dropped off with the organizers the following morning, and will be on display at a Suntrust building in Richmond in September (details to come soon)

A LEGO mosaic from Brickworkz makes a lasting and memorable gift for you and your loved ones. Contact a Brick Artist for a free estimate today!

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