Our Bios


Elizabeth Vander Veer Shaak, Bowmaker and Owner

Elizabeth trained with bowmakers Bill Salchow in New York, Jean Grunberger in Paris and Pierre Guillaume in Bruxelles. She began her work at Primavera House of Violins in 1982 and went on to establish Bow Studio of Philadelphia. In 2003 she established Mount Airy Violins & Bows in honor of the shop’s present neighborhood. Elizabeth continues her craft and has attended the Oberlin Bowmakers Workshop for over 15 years. Elizabeth plays traditional French, Swedish and old-time violin.


Adam Oleksa
Adam has played violin for over 20 years, specializing in both classical music and traditional Scottish fiddling. Since joining the shop, he has trained in bow repair and rehairs with Ms. Shaak. Adam has completed the violin set-up and repair course with restoration expert Hans Nebel, the 2014 and 2015 Oberlin Bow Restoration Workshops, and a 2016 Bowmaking course with David Hawthorne.

Thomas La Forgia
Thomas received a Masters degree in cello from Indiana University in 2011 where he worked with Sharon Robinson and Janos Starker. He was a Shar Apprentice from 2007-2008. He began working in violin shops in high school in Charlotte, NC doing set-up and sales. Thomas is an active teacher and passionate about providing beginners with the best possible equipment. He has attended the 2015 and 2016 Oberlin Violin Restoration Workshops.

Elizabeth Perry
Elizabeth Perry graduated from the Violin Making School of America in 2015 under the tutelage of Charles Woolf, Sang Hun Lee and Aubrey Alexander. She started playing the violin at the age of four and it’s been a part of her life ever since. She focuses primarily on repair work and attended the 2016 Oberlin Restoration Workshop.


Raffaello Stefanini, Luthier
Rafe has done fine violin restoration for over 25 years in the Philadelphia area. In addition he travels to his home town of Bologna to make violins every year. He is known particularly for complex repairs, varnish work and set-up. He is also a world-renowned old-time fiddler, appearing on nearly two dozen CDs and touring worldwide.

Orest Nakonechny, Luthier
Orest completed the Violin Making School of America program in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2006 under the tutelage of Charles Woolf, Georg Meiwes and Peter Prier. He also studied violin making at the University of New Hampshire with Karl Roy and Alvin Thomas King in 2001. Orest also has a degree in fine arts from Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute and plays gypsy jazz guitar.