Working in Clark County: Mark Moreland: Violin maker

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant




Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columb...; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Mark Moreland was 15 years old when he knew he wanted to make violins. Not knowing if he would get accepted for an apprenticeship, he started college to pursue a career as a violinist. An apprenticeship came through, and Moreland spent years training in a shop in Portland. He's worked on many expensive instruments, but now, at his shop in Battle Ground, "I don't see myself as making instruments for superstars but making them for serious students and for amateur players that are professional people," Moreland says.

Name: Mark Moreland

Age: 58

Job/employer: Owns Mark Moreland Violin Shop, 1002 S.E. Grace Ave., Battle Ground.

Residence: Battle Ground.

Education: I started playing the violin at age 9. Since I was 15, I knew I wanted to make violins. I spent part of a year in Europe with my dad looking for instruments for my sister and me. In the early 1970s I was on a waiting list for an apprenticeship in Europe or the United States, and I didn't know if I would get ever accepted so I decided to go to school. I was pursuing a career as a violinist at Wichita State University when I was accepted as an apprentice violin maker. I was 19 when I headed to Portland.

Professional background: After a three-year apprenticeship in Portland, he ran a shop in the Midwest for a couple of years. Moreland returned to Portland and worked as both general manager and shop foreman at Schuback Violin Shop in Portland for nearly 21 years. Moreland was accepted as a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers in 1986 and he also is a member of The Violin Society of America. After leaving Schuback, he worked in Maryland and New Mexico before returning to the Northwest in 2010 to open his shop in Battle Ground, where he makes and performs repair work on stringed instruments. Each of Moreland’s handmade instruments is one-of-a-kind and they are only available in very limited numbers.

Goals: Moreland's professional goals are to build more high-quality instruments while also offering exceptional repair, restoration and tonal adjustment knowledge to the local community.

One word to describe yourself: Anal. You can't do this kind of work without being a detail person.

Most rewarding part of job: Being able to work for myself and make my own schedule. I am not a morning person and I like working late at night. Having my own business allows me to live like I want.

Most challenging part of job: Juggling my priorities and my clients. I love the work and am in my 39th year in the business. I don't struggle with the work, but juggling the jobs of making new instruments, repair work and restorations is a challenge. It is about equal between new and repair work. I make two to three violins and two to three cellos per year.

Personal/business philosophy: I don't see myself as making instruments for superstars but making them for serious students and for amateur players that are professional people. My instruments are for young music students that are starting their careers. Most of my cellos go to professional cellists or soon-to-be cellists professionals. My first cello from my Battle Ground shop was finished in October 2010 for a young Rice University graduate. She had just won an audition to play with the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.

Awards: In 1986 I "presented" a string quartet — making all the quartet's instruments — in the Violin Society of America competition. Two of the instruments, a cello and a viola, received certificate of merit tone awards. In 1982 in the same competition, I won a tone award for a viola. I have worked on many great instruments over the years, including the 1689 "Archinto" Stradivarius cello, 1693 Ex "Misha Schneider" M. Goffriller cello, numerous Tecchler cellos, countless Vuillaumes, and several famous del Gesu violins.

Something you would like to do over: I wish I was younger. Also, I have a great love for bows. I might have become a bow maker instead of making violins and cellos. I would absolutely not change my business.

Best feature of my Battle Ground community: After living in Portland, Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, N.M., we were looking for a more rural area where I could have more time to work without interruptions. This community really embraces entrepreneurs and people who are self-employed. We have all the basic needs here. We are close to the airport for shipping and receiving and the I-5 corridor. We find the people warm, supportive, and they actually really welcomed us when we first moved here. The city has been very receptive to my business.

What would make your community a better place: The community would be better if it would be more open to the influx of people from the outside. I wish they would embrace change and not fight against it. They should realize how unique this place is.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: We don't eat out very often, and since I work at home I make my own coffee. I do like Old Town Battle Grounds.

Hobbies: Gardening now. I used to be into sailing and lived on my sailboat in Portland for 15 years.

Favorite travel destination: I love Oregon and Washington beaches, the Astoria, Ore., area and Port Townsend.

One thing you want to do this year: My wife and I would like to go to Nova Scotia. I also want to finish two violins and three cellos.

Something you want to do within five years: I would like to travel in Europe.