February 2013 Newspaper article in The Saratogian


Schuylerville artist fine-tuned his talents

Published: Monday, February 04, 2013


SCHUYLERVILLE — In an age of mass production, fine stringed instrument maker Martin Macica is a rare find.

“I started to play mandolin first. I was 17 and learned to play some Beatles tunes. My brother, Kevin, had an eclectic taste in music, exposing me to everything from classical to bluegrass to jazz. I was a rock ‘n’ roll kid, but didn’t stay there,” said Macica, a Schuylerville resident.

“I also began making instruments, including an electric mandolin. If they existed, I wasn’t aware and went ahead to make my own,” he said.

Using the components from a Sears electric guitar, he made an electric mandolin and played it as though it was a guitar. That first instrument now hangs in the foyer of his workshop and has come to represent the dedication to God that Macica has made of his life and talents.

The death of Kevin in a motorcycle accident in 1980 brought Macica to a crossroads.

“I was coming to church, taking lessons, and my brother died. I realized I could die tomorrow. That one event drew my mother and me to search for an anchor in life. I only wanted the truth, and I found it in Jesus. He brought me to repentance. God met me as that teenager. He helped me get my house in order,” he said.

That event moved him to carve a cross in the body of the electric mandolin as an outward profession of that conversion experience.

Macica also was inspired by Jack Tottle, an American bluegrass musician, singer and mandolin player.

“I got a lesson book and began to take violin lessons with Bonnie Ashdown locally, and played with my church ensemble. I liked classical music for the violin and bluegrass for the mandolin. Then I heard the David Grisman Quintet, an alternative bluegrass jazz band; they got me revved up,” he said.

Macica discovered the Corinth and Winterhawk bluegrass festivals in the 1970s. He grew to love playing music socially and as a worship medium. Continued…

When Macica graduated from Schuylerville High School in 1982, he headed to New York City to plunge headlong into an apprenticeship for four years under the direction of Mosa Havivi, a master violin-maker whose studio was next to Carnegie Hall. Havivi taught him to make violins in the tradition of the “golden age” of Italian violin-making that thrived in the 1600s in northern Italy. Three master violin-making families lived there, including the Stradivaris.

“A lot of that craft was lost. There is no better way to make an instrument than by hand,” Macica said.

His father and an uncle were carpenters, and he became extremely proficient with hand tools. It seemed to him as though his life’s purpose was clear.

Of the time he spent learning his craft in Manhattan, Macica said, “New York is a great occupational city. It’s a fantastic place to learn from people who are serious about what they do. School gave me an ideal for the standard of the profession. Dealers understand the artistry and beauty of a handcrafted instrument. I love it there. I learned what I needed to know.”

Returning home to Schuylerville, he established The Macica Workshop on Broad Street and has been a fixture there for more than 20 years. In 2010, he and his family moved to the house he grew up in, where his relocated workshop includes a small shop. He and his wife, Kim, homeschool three boys.

Macica produces about four fine stringed instruments a year and performs delicate repairs, such as replacing violin bridges, on the instruments of members of the Albany Symphony, the Music Company Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra when they summer at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. He has built up an exclusive clientele over the years.

Macica is acutely aware that his craftsmanship is intrinsically connected to and a reflection of his spirituality.

“It goes further than excelling; it’s the flow of your life, like making sure your checkbook is in order. That you are a good steward of the gifts of your life and that each piece reflects that flow,” he said. “I love music; it’s a gas. I like it when there are no walls between the musicians and their audience.”

For more information, go to www.macica.com.

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