Joanna Frankel has feelings of both excitement and a little anxiety when it comes to playing a famous violin named Il Cannone in a concert Wednesday, May 15, with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

The concertmaster with the symphony will perform “Cantabile” and “Caprice 24” on the same violin as the great virtuoso, Niccolo Paganini, as well as works of other composers.

The concert, conducted by Rossen Milanov, will be held at 8 p.m. May 15 at the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St. in downtown Columbus.

Tickets are available at

Through Greater Columbus Sister Cities International, Il Cannone will be on display Saturday, May 11, through May 19 in the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad St. in Columbus.

The instrument ordinarily is on display at the Palazzo Doria-Tursi in Genoa, Italy, a sister city of Columbus.

Paganini, who died May 27, 1840, was famous for his difficult techniques, having fingers that splayed the entire length of the instrument’s neck and his ability to play pizzicato – plucking of the strings – with his left hand only.

“He was a great virtuoso,” said Frankel, a German Village resident. “He was the rock star of his day. Ladies would flock to him.”

He also was a gamblerand reportedly lost his previous violin, an Amati, in a bet. Fortunately, a friend reportedly gave him Il Cannone constructed in 1743 by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri.

His instrument was called "the cannon" because it has an extremely powerful tone and a wide range of color and volume and, therefore, a wide variety of expressions for the performer, Frankel said.

Frankel, 36, started playing violin at 3 years old. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Juilliard School in New York City.

The Philadelphia native, whose own instrument was made by Gaetano Vinaccia in 1819 in Naples, said she will be given four hours of practice on Il Cannone before the concert.

“Hearing Joanna Frankel play this coveted instrument will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Sameen Dadfar, program manager for Greater Columbus Sister Cities International. “This is the first time in 15 years that this violin has been allowed to travel to the United States, making this not just a win for Columbus, but for Ohio and the Midwest.

“Through this historic exchange, GCSCI is celebrating our sister city of Genoa for their contributions to the world of art and culture, as well as deepening our longstanding relationship that we hope will continue for many generations.”