SHANGHAI, April 17 (AP) -- Classical musicians have a reputation for being precious. Their instruments are precious too, but in a different sense of the word.
More than 50 antique Italian violins have landed in Shanghai for an exhibition that began yesterday at the city's Conservatory of Music.
Among the exhibits, 12 antique violins in glass cabinets are center stage, valued at more than US$5 million.
Conservatory student Shi Shuai played on three of the rarest violins yesterday, a Stradivari 1726, a Stradivari 1692 and a Guarneri 1741. Their sounds were exquisite.
Renowned Chinese violin maker Zheng Quan, from the Central Conservatory of Music, said the exhibition again showed the great interest European antique violin merchants had in the Chinese market.
"After the economic boom in Japan and South Korea, antique violins have won a lot of Japanese and Korean buyers," Zheng said. "Now they think China will be the next new market. Holding an antique violin exhibition is a method to win more customers in China. It's also a great learning opportunity for us."
The five-day exhibition, organized by the Taiwan-based Broad Musical Instruments Company, will only be open to aficionados at first but opens to the public from 10am to 5pm on Friday at the Academic Hall of the conservatory.
The exhibition also showcases dozens of French violins, violas and cello bows which are all in perfect condition and certified by leading French experts Raffin or Millant.
During the exhibition the conservatory will hold two lectures on great Italian violin maker Stradivari and violin investment.
The conservatory will also evaluate violins for citizens at 1:30pm on Thursday in the Academic Hall.
Award-winning students from the conservatory will play on nine of the rare violins in the He Luting Concert Hall tomorrow night.