BROOKFIELD (WITI) -- There was a full house at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center in Brookfield on Monday evening, February 10th to hear Frank Almond play the Stradivarius violin for the first time in an official performance capacity since it was stolen and recovered by law enforcement officials.
Before the performance started, Almond came on stage to a standing ovation and addressed the audience. He thanked them for their support, and also thanked Milwaukee police. He said somewhat jokingly that it has been an interesting couple of weeks.
Criminal charges were filed on Friday, February 7th in connection with the theft of the 1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin. The accused are 36-year-old Universal Allah and 41-year-old Salah Salahadyn.
Allah and Salahadyn each face a count of robbery party to a crime. Allah also faces a charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called to investigate a robbery at Wisconsin Lutheran College around 10:20 p.m. on Monday, January 27th. Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, had just wrapped up a performance at the school and exited the performance hall. The complaint says as Almond approached his car, he opened the rear door on his car to put the violin inside. A man walked up to him, “produced a flashlight-style Taser-type weapon, and fired that Taser at Mr. Almond.”
Almond told police the “ejected probes of the Taser struck him in the wrist and chest. Mr. Almond said he fell to the ground, and was momentarily incapacitated. Upon gaining control of himself, Mr. Almond said the Stradivarius Lipinski 1715 violin was missing.”
Police recovered the violin after tracking it to a home in Bay View.
Bob Maganck and his wife Carol bought tickets to Monday night's sold out show in Brookfield. Maganck's father was a concert violinist who played a Stradivarius.
"Very much familiar with the value and what a Stradivarius violin means to a violinist. I was totally shocked and I really played that they could get it back in one piece," Maganck said.
Now recovered, the Stradivarius has perhaps never been more famous. In a 300-year life filled with high-profile performances.
Karen Kaszynski and Carrie Annonson followed the story closely in the news, and vowed to attend Monday's performance.
They say they're grateful to see the violin back in Almond's hands.
"There is that connection with your instrument. That`s part of him now especially after all these years," Annonson said.
On Saturday, February 15th, Almond will perform in Milwaukee -- and we're told Police Chief Ed Flynn, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and police detectives will make an appearance on stage.