For his entire professional life, Benoît Rolland has been making bows for stringed instruments with one goal: making music easier to play.
“If a musician is not comfortable with the bow, the bow becomes an obstacle, and he or she cannot be free to play,” Rolland said. “On the contrary, when the musician is very comfortable playing with the bow, he or she can forget it, and then give themselves freely to the music.”
This fall, Rolland, who lives in Watertown with his wife, was rewarded for his innovation and artistry over a career that has included making about 1,800 bows. He was named one of 23 MacArthur Foundation fellows, and given an unrestricted grant of $500,000.
The MacArthur call came on a September morning, as Rolland was meeting with his intellectual property lawyer. For Rolland, like many recipients, the call was startling. He had not known that he had been nominated.