Acclaimed violinist, Joanna Frankel, to perform at Hilton Arts Festival


Joanna Frankel will be performing at the Hilton Arts Festival. Photo: Val Adamson

CELEBRATED violinist, Joanna Frankel, is looking forward to performing Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A Op.47 ‘ Kreutzer’ at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival, writes’s Estelle Sinkins.

Her recital, during which she will be accompanied by ‘Maritzburg pianist, Christopher Duigan, is one of four Beethoven-themed concerts being hosted by Music Revival in the Hilton College Chapel from September 16 to 18.

Speaking about the Kreutzer Sonata – a work she has played several times before – she admits it is a work which tests you with its myriad of technical and musical challenges.

“However, each time I play it, it presents new and different challenges, as I am able to delve deeper and deeper into the heart of the work,” Frankel, concert master with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, said.

“It was conceived by Beethoven as really a ‘Concertante’ for both violin and piano, and gives ample opportunity for both instruments to shine.

“What makes it more difficult than a concerto for solo instrument and orchestra is that while one performer is executing challenging technical passages, he must simultaneously be acting in support of the chamber partner. It is in this sense, and the orchestral and expansive breadth and length of the work that will challenge me every time I perform it, over the course of my lifetime.”

The sonata was originally written for violinist George Brdgetower, a noted British virtuoso of the day, born of Polish and West Indian parents. Beethoven later withdrew the dedication after a personal dispute following the first performance.

He finally dedicated the work it the French virtuoso, Rodolphe Kreutzer, who thought the work unplayable and never performed it.

As for her thoughts on Beethoven himself, Frankel believes his music will always be just out of the grasp of total understanding for a performer, simply because he incorporates musical genius with a complicated and pained psyche.

“Beauty and pain are closely related for Beethoven, and he experiences emotionality in quite an individual way,” she says. “While the performer will never be able to understand the composer’s complexity, he can strive to show the emotion none the less. This is why I love Beethoven’s works and will forever strive to find their special truth.”

In this concert, Frankel and Duigan pair the Kreutzer with the Sonata in A major by Belgian-French Cesar Franck, one of the best loved sonatas for violin and piano.

They will be performing on Friday, September 16 at 8 pm in the chapel, a favourite venue for classical musicians who make the trip to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to present chamber music in an intimate setting [like the chapel],” says Frankel, “I feel I can really communicate and include the audience in the journey of the work. This way, everyone experiences the music together which is very special.

“I love performing at the Hilton Arts Festival, singularly because of the warmth of the audience! I always feel so welcomed and at ease to share this magnificent music with the wonderful Hilton audience. It is a special experience.”

Tickets for the concert are R120. To book email

There are three other concerts in the Beethoven series at the Hilton Arts Festival. In the second concert, at 4 pm on Saturday, September 17, Duigan will be joined by the KZN Philharmonic Quartet to perform elections Mozart’s Concertos, in C major K415, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor.

At 10 am on Sunday, September 18 Duigan will perform three sonatas from the canon of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas; and at 4pm he will be joined by Junnan Sun (clarinet) and Aristide du Plessis (cello), to play a spirited selection of music for clarinet, cello and piano, including Beethoven’s Trio in B-flat Op.

For more information about the concerts and the Hilton Arts Festival in general, log on to, like the Facebook page: Hilton Arts Festival or follow the festival on Twitter @HiltonFest.

Inquiries: 033 383 0126/7 or email


JOANNA Frankel has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at venues like the Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and The Sibelius Academy’s Chamber Music Hall.

She has performed with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, The Ambler Symphony, The Rochester Symphony, The Olney Symphony, The Ocean City Pops, and The Southern Adventist Symphony.

Her recital appearances have taken her to Durban, Pietermaritzburg, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chattanooga, Charleston, Amsterdam, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague, Tallinn, Bratislava, and Helsinki.

Proficient on the viola as well as on the violin,Frankel embodies an honest love of chamber music and is consistently engaged to perform at a large variety of music festivals.

Born in Philadelphia in 1982, she began her violin studies at age three with The Suzuki Method, and at age seven continued in the Russian tradition with mentors Edwin Grzesnikowski, Jascha Brodsky, Choong-Jin Chang and Robert Chen.

She then trained for six years at The Juilliard School in New York City, a pupil of Masao Kawasaki and Cho-Liang Lin, and received the school’s prestigious ‘William Schuman Prize for Outstanding Artistic Excellence and Leadership’ upon graduation.

Her post-graduate work continued at Carnegie Hall, where she was selected as part of the inaugural class of “The Academy,” the Hall’s initiative that trains ambitious young musicians to be 21st century arts leaders.

Appointed first concertmaster of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic in 2013, she performs on the 1846 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin labelled ‘Joseph Guarnerius fecit Cremonae,’ on extended loan from a generous patron through the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation in Chicago.


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