Carson Valley luthier Nelle O'Neill was awarded a gold medal for one of her violas at the recent convention and competition of the Violin Makers Association of Arizona International in Tucson.
O'Neill is the first woman maker to receive this honor in the 54 year history of the Association. Her award winning entry was commissioned for Mckenna Oh, principal violist of the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra.
O'Neill's instruments have won numerous awards over the past ten years, including silver medals in both the 2010 and 2011 competitions. She studied with master luthier Edward Campbell for many years at the Chimneys Workshop for Violin Makers sponsored by the association.
She presently is working only on commission with the waiting period for one of her custom made instruments ranging from six months to over a year. Her violins and violas have found homes in many locations throughout the country with one in Switzerland and another headed shortly to Ireland.