Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jinjoo Cho

Jinjoo Cho is a Korean violinist and teacher born (in Seoul) on July 12, 1988.  She is well-known as the winner of several violin competitions around the world (2005, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2014), the Indianapolis being the most important among them.  It is the nature of competitions that in 2012, Cho entered the Queen Elizabeth (of Belgium) violin competition and did not make it to the finals.  (Igor Pikayzen, a very successful violinist with a brilliant technique did not make the semi-finals in that same competition (that year), although he later won other competitions.  Erick Friedman came in sixth place in the Tchaikovsky competition in 1966…, and so it goes.)  Cho has – for the most part - studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.  Her main teachers have been Paul Kantor (for four years), Jaime Laredo, Zakhar Bron, Arnold Steinhardt, and Mark Steinberg.  She began her violin studies at age 5 and later attended the Korean Art School.   Cho came to the US at age 14 and enrolled at the CIM almost immediately.  In Cleveland, she also attended the Gilmour Academy, a private (boarding) school.  At age 26 (September, 2014), she won first prize in the Indianapolis International violin competition.  As a result, she is performing on the Gingold Stradivarius of 1683 (also known as the Martinelli Stradivarius), a four year loan from the competition.   Prior to winning the Indianapolis, she had been concertizing for many years (since the age of 16) and had gained extensive experience in orchestral work and chamber music playing due to her attendance at various summer music camps.  Her technique has been described as stunning and her playing as being full of passion.  She has been quoted as saying: I think the importance of music is that it enables you to reach places in your heart that you might otherwise never reach.  It promotes soul searching.  Music also helps you see part of yourself and better understand people even in diverse situations.  Once you've experienced profound art, I really feel you are a citizen of the world.  You have a whole other means of traveling to different times and places that have shaped lives.”  Here is one YouTube video of her playing with piano accompaniment – the seldom-heard Francis Poulenc violin sonata.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pamela Frank

Pamela Frank is an American violinist and teacher born (in New York City) on June 20, 1967.  She is now best known as a chamber music player and teacher, although she has performed as a soloist with many of the world’s top orchestras and conductors.  In the early 2000s she had to stop performing due to a serious (hand) injury suffered in 2001.  In that regard, she joins (among others) Rodolphe Kreutzer, Jascha Heifetz, Bronislaw Huberman, Fritz Kreisler, Erick Friedman, Maxim Vengerov, Emanuel Vardi, Kyung Wha Chung, Hilary Hahn, and Jacques Thibaud, each of whom had their career interrupted by hand or arm injuries.  After extensive rehabilitation, she returned to the stage in August of 2012.  She has taught at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore (since 2003), the Curtis Institute (since 1996) in Philadelphia, and the State University of New York.  She has also served on several juries of violin competitions around the world and played at various music festivals, including the well-known Verbier, Salzburg, and Ravinia festivals.  Frank has also frequently given masterclasses in Europe, Israel, Canada, and the U.S.  She is fluent in German, French, and (of course) English but is one of the few violinists who does not have a website.  Frank began her studies at age 5, studying violin privately with Shirley Givens for about eleven years.  She then studied further with Szymon Goldberg (1909-1993) and Jaime Laredo.  Her formal (public) debut took place in 1985 at New York's Carnegie Hall with the New York String Orchestra under Alexander Schneider.  She was 18 years old.  She had been a section player with that ensemble since the age of 15.  Frank later debuted a second time in Carnegie Hall playing a recital there in April of 1995.  She graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1989, presenting her graduation recital on February 15, 1989, playing works by Bach, Ysaye, Kreisler, Schubert, and Beethoven.  She first appeared with the New York Philharmonic on October 27, 1994, playing the Dvorak concerto.  Leonard Slatkin was on the podium.  Her second and last appearance with the orchestra was on December 1, 1998.  On that occasion she played Mozart’s third concerto.  Andre Previn conducted.  On September 11, 1996, she appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic alongside cellist Clemens Hagen playing the Double Concerto by Johannes Brahms.  Daniel Harding was on the podium.  She was 29 years old.  Her father, the pianist Claude Frank (1925-2014), often accompanied her in recital.  (Leonid Kogan and his pianist daughter (Nina) often played together too.)  In December of 1997, she and her father presented the entire Beethoven sonata cycle at London's Wigmore Hall.  Frank’s discography is not extensive although it includes the complete Mozart concertos and the complete Beethoven and Brahms Sonatas.  Her playing is featured in the soundtrack to the movie “Immortal Beloved.”  Among other violins, Frank has played a Guarnerius Del Gesu from 1736 known as the Wieniawski.  Here is a YouTube audio file of one of her Beethoven performances.  Photo is courtesy of Nicolas Lieber