Columbus Makes Art Presents Concertmaster Joanna Frankel and the Importance of Music in our Community
Joanna Frankel is the Concertmaster for the Columbus Symphony and will be featured in the Beethoven Marathon: Joanna Plays Beethoven concert, Jan. 25-26 at the Ohio Theatre. We chatted with her about her background in music and her work with the Symphony.
Holly: What brought you to Ohio to work with the Columbus Symphony?
Joanna: I lived in Durban, South Africa for four years, where I served as concertmaster of the symphony there. It was a fascinating time where I was lucky to witness the culture of a vibrant emerging post-apartheid African city. I was also very fortunate to perform a concerto with one of the symphony’s visiting conductors, Rossen Milanov. Maestro Milanov and I found a special musical connection during this project and soon after he became music director of the Columbus Symphony. When the concertmaster seat opened up in Columbus, he asked if I would come and take the audition. One thing led to another and I am so proud now to call Columbus my home, along with my husband Daniel and my 8-month-old son, Elliott.
Holly: What was it about music that made you seriously focus on it and make it your career?
Joanna: I think the thing that always drew me to the violin was its challenge and the amazing feeling I had when I learned how to do something new on the instrument or to express my voice more clearly. I didn’t experience the depth of learning, growth and fulfillment with anything else in my life — I truly loved trying to find my voice on the instrument. It is a lifelong journey, as an artist weaves her many experiences into her art, so it’s always changing and developing. I cannot think of a more perfect aspiration — to play the violin well — and it will always be just an aspiration, as I’ll strive for this for the rest of my life. When you are able to communicate through music, you are able to touch the lives of the people that hear your music. This is a very special thing.
Holly: You’ve had several highlighted solos throughout your time here with the Symphony, but this time you are the featured artist. Tell me what you’re most excited about being on center stage.
Joanna: I’m most excited about bringing the Beethoven violin concerto to life — it’s such a tour de force of a composition; some consider it the most perfect of violin concertos. It is so special because it feels very much like chamber music — the soloist weaves in and out of the orchestral text continuously and the piece serves to allow many orchestral players to shine. It’s a pinnacle of creation and I feel very lucky to be given the opportunity to share it with Columbus audiences.
Holly: What are some of your biggest accomplishments in your career?
Joanna: I have to say that performing in Columbus is quite an honor and I’m very proud to be here! As a young artist fellow of Carnegie Hall, I was lucky to perform chamber music many times at Carnegie Hall and have been presented in recitals across Eastern Europe — Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Tartu, Bratislava, Helsinki and Prague. I’ve also been presented at many festivals, including Marlboro Music, Fespiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Spain’s Niemeyer Cultural Center. In South Africa I helped mentor a new generation of classical musicians, and in New York City I worked in the public schools helping to bolster music programs there. All in all I’ve tried to bring music to those who might not otherwise have it, and to infuse my performances with passion, honesty and integrity. Anytime I feel I’ve communicated with music to an audience I feel it’s an accomplishment.
Holly: What can people expect when they come to a Columbus Symphony performance?
Joanna: When people attend a Columbus Symphony performance they can expect to be blown away by the energy and technical prowess of the musicians, the musical intelligence and mastery of Maestro Milanov, and the breathtaking setting and acoustics of the Ohio Theater. The musicians put their all into each note and are fulfilled when they can share this music with our audience. They can also enjoy lots of extra perks surrounding our festivals: meet the musicians, talk backs, bonus concerts and pre-concert lectures, to name a few. There is something for everyone, and the orchestra is so excited to share the musical experience with our patrons.
The Columbus Symphony invites you to Beethoven Marathon: Joanna Plays Beethoven, Jan. 25-26 at the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets start at only $10! For tickets call 614-469-0939, visit columbussymphony.com or ticketmaster.com.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.