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“Instrument of the devil,” legendary violin comes to Columbus

Laura Dachenbach

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He was so good that people believed he had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his virtuosic talents. In fact, for 36 years after his death, his body was denied burial, so convinced was the general public that Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) was in league with Satan. The violinist was known for composing works of such extraordinary difficulty that only he could play them. His odd appearance, frequent illnesses, and many vices only reinforced Paganini’s diabolical reputation.

Paganini began playing the violin at the age of seven. When he was 15, he sold his expensive Amati violin to pay off a gambling debt. An amateur violinist and businessman gifted Paganini with a neglected Guarneri Del Gesu violin, constructed in 1743. The young musician named the instrument “Il Cannone” (the cannon) for its unparalleled powerful and resonant sound and played it for the rest of his life. Today the violin is housed at the Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Doria-Tursi in Genoa, Italy, the city where its owner was born.

The now-276-year-old violin continues to enthrall audiences. It has been played by Shlomo Mintz, Joshua Bell, jazz violinist Regina Carter, and the yearly winner of each Premio Paganini contest.

This spring, the Devil’s Violin will seduce the modest Midwest right here in Columbus.

For a week in May, Il Cannone will be exhibited at the Columbus Museum of Art. On Wednesday of that week, it will be played in concert with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Rossen Milanov. Selections for the concert include the overture to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, the Pas de action from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the meditation from Thaïs by Massenet, and works composed by Paganini himself.

Sameen Dadfar, Program Manager with Greater Columbus Sister Cities International has been working on Il Cannone as a cultural project for over two years, supported by Columbus City Council.

“It all started in 2015. Councilmember [Priscilla] Tyson led a delegation of young professionals to Genoa that year, and among the many activities they did, they got to see the violin be performed.” A discussion began about whether the violin could be traveled to Columbus as part of a sister city relationship with Genoa. The initial answer was a firm no.

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“The violin very rarely leaves Genoa. It’s only been [in the US] in New York and San Francisco before. So Columbus is kind of something that we had to work towards,” explained Dadfar. “We’re working very closely with the Columbus Museum of Art and the Columbus Symphony so that we can make sure the violin is taken care of.”

In addition to the exhibition and concert, the film Strad Style will be showcased at the Gateway Film Center. A winner at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Strad Style is a documentary of Columbus native Daniel Houck who, through the medium of YouTube videos, becomes a self-taught violin maker on a quest to craft a concert-level replica of Il Cannone. Much of the story takes place in Houck’s run-down Ohio farmhouse. Houck will be available for a talkback after the showing.

Because of its history with a most unusual owner, Il Cannone has acquired an almost mystical presence in the world of music. Today many speculate Paganini had Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder which was responsible for his long, thin fingers, and unusually flexible joints, endowing him with the ability to perform violin techniques thought physically impossible, and therefore, the product of the Devil’s powers. But the violin’s witching power lies in more than its history. Like a fine wine, Il Cannone has improved with time. 

“As opposed to modern-day instruments, the biggest difference is that the Il Cannone has had hundreds of years to open up. The wood ages, becomes more complex, softens, etc.,” explained CSO Concertmaster Joanna Frankel, who will play Il Cannone in concert. “The sound that players produce on this instrument affects the structure and timbre, allowing the wood to mold over the years to sound  and time.”

What has taken years to plan across two continents will culminate in just a brief time of rehearsal and performance for Frankel. 

“I will have only limited minutes to practice on this instrument, to unlock its mysteries and ‘wake it up’ so to speak, as it is mostly these days on view in a glass case at Genoa’s Palazzo Tursi. I’m excited for the challenge, and also extremely humbled to become one of the few violinists in history to perform on this instrument.”

Il Cannone will be on display at the Columbus Museum of Art from May 10th to May 19th. See columbusmuseum.org for details. The violin will be played in concert on May 15th at the Ohio Theatre. See columbussymphony.com. 

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The Weekend Lookout: 9 different ways to spend your weekend in the city

Mitch Hooper

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Summer is fleeting, but luckily fall is on the way. We are entering that Goldie Locks zone of weather which means it's the perfect time to get up, and get out. From a big music jamboree with Doc Robinson on Saturday to Tyler, The Creator stopping off at Express Live, here are the events and happenings to keep on your radar.

Saturday

Doc Robinson's Family Jamboree @ Woodlands Tavern

If you trust our taste with The Turbos, then having you trust us once more with Doc Robinson shouldn't be a stretch. Here's a little taste of what Doc Robinson will bring to the stage on Saturday. The Family Jamboree kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will include a large roster of local acts including Parker Louis and Hebdo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg

German Village Oktoberfest @ Wunderbar

You already know the drill here: fill your steins full of Great Lakes Brewing beers, chow down on German classics from places like Pierogi Mountain, and don't even worry about the cover charge because this is a free-to-attend event.

Can Release: Opera Cream Stout @ Platform Beer Co.

New beer, who dis? Platform Beer Co. is breaking out a new can this Saturday at the taproom where they collaborated with The BonBonerie for this Opera Cream Stout. Platform will have beers ready for purchase around 10 a.m. so come early, and come thirsty.

Sunday

Kölsch In The [email protected] Gemüt Biergarten

It's a beer release party in the Garten! Gemüt Biergarten is breaking out its newest brew Huginn & Muninn Kölsch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just $3 in the Garten. Gemüt describes this beer as a light-bodied German ale that is malt-forward with a slightly fruity flavor.

Tyler, The Creator @ Express Live

Tyler, The Creator has been on a new level in terms of music popularity. His albums Igor and Flower Boy have received plenty of critical acclaim, and his unique sound landed him as the artist who created the soundtrack to the newest iteration of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The often off-the-walls rapper will be taking over Express Live on Sunday evening with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

It: Chapter 2 and Hustlers @ South Drive-in

Going to a drive-in to see an It movie, ah. It feels like the good old days again. Was I around for those days? Maybe not, but the nostalgic vibes still stand. Head over to the South Drive-in for a double feature of the newest It: Chapter 2 as well as Hustlers. Everything kicks off around 7:15 p.m., and the Drive-in suggests showing up an hour early to be safe.

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A Day In Delaware: Horse racing, kayaking, food trucks, cocktails

Mitch Hooper

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It's horse racing season in Delaware at the Little Brown Jug and that means two things: you're either about to lose, or currently losing.

The beloved horse racing at Little Brown Jug, affectionately known as LBJ, kicked off on Sunday and will run until Thursday. If you're looking to get in on the action, here is where you can buy tickets.

But, if you've already spent all your gambling money and just need a break from the horses, there are plenty of alternatives available in Delaware. Here are three spots to keep in mind as you explore our not-so-distant neighbor to the north.

Kayaking at Alum Creek

Whether you hit it big on your bet, or lost it all in the first race, Alum Creek is perfect because it's free. While the views on the walking trails are great, the views from a kayak are even better. The water there is very calm with the exception of a boat passing through every once in a while making it a nice spot for beginners.

And if you're a veteran on the water, the lake is relatively large meaning you can make an entire day out of it. I recommend packing a cooler with some picnic food—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese with crackers, and some fresh fruit—and making pit stops at some of the beaches right off the lake. And, just so I can say I told you so, leave your phone in the car, or in a water proof bag.

Dinner At The Food Truck Depot

The Food Truck Depot is a relatively new eatery and bar in Delaware and it's sure to have something for everyone. If you, or someone you're with, is a vegetarian/vegan, Encompass Eatery is a familiar face at the Food Truck Depot and they offer plant-based dishes such as a grilled caprese sandwich, or straight up carnivorous sandwiches like the hearty roast beef sandwich. Other food trucks that have made appearances include Tortilla, Red Door BBQ, and Deja Food. Also at the Food Truck Depot is a full service bar with craft selections and cocktails as well as a large sand volleyball court if you need to burn some calories.

Drinks On Sandusky St.

Delaware is absolutely loaded with options when it comes to drinking in the evening. Looking to taste some bourbon and whiskey? Check out Opa Grill And Tavern which boasts the largest bourbon selection in Ohio. Or perhaps you're more of a beer person (you are from Columbus after all). Barley Hopsters is a beer lovers heaven as it offers large coolers stocked with local, regional, and national craft beers. Build a six-pack to take home, or sip on your beer of choice while you ponder your next option.

Not too far from Barley Hopsters is Restoration Brew Worx which offers a variety of their in-house brews. And if you're looking for an elevated cocktail, 1808 American Bistro is on 29 E. Winter St—just a stone's throw away from Sandusky St. On the flip side, if you're just looking for a dive bar to call home for the evening, The Backstretch will have you covered with cans of PBRs and Tullamore Dew.

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9 festivals for you to fall in love with this weekend

Mitch Hooper

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Summer may be rounding out, but there are still so many ways to fest outside. From vintage good fairs to rock climbing at the Scioto Audubon, here are the festivals taking place this weekend in the city.

Sept. 12-15 | Scioto Fest | Scioto Audubon Metro Park

This four-day festival is for those with an affinity for the outdoors. Here, adrenaline junkies will find rock climbing and bouldering while land lovers can enjoy camping, music, and all the food offerings.

Sept. 12-14 | Creative Control Fest 8 | Lincoln Theatre

In its eighth year, the Creative Control Fest is back to raise up and celebrate creatives of color from around the midwest. Hang out and learn useful information at one of the many workshops, or get your mind right at one of the wellness activities designed for creatives from a variety of different industries.

Sept. 13-14 | 934 Fest 2019 | 934 Gallery

In a celebration of the art scene here in Columbus, 934 Gallery is opening its doors for two-days this weekend featuring art from Lucie Shearer and Andy Meyer. Additionally, the festival will play host to two music stages, a comedy stage, local artist vendors, food trucks, craft beer, and plenty of activities for your young Picasso.

Sept. 13-15 | Country Living Fair | Ohio Historical Village

Calling all flea market fans and garage sale experts, this is your chance to splurge! This three-day fair offers more than 200 vendors from across different states selling vintage and handcrafted goods as well as antiques. Stop by one of the how-to sessions, or simply fill up your Pinterest mood board with loads of ideas.

Sept. 13-14 | Columbus Caribbean Festival | The Scioto Mile

In its third year, the Columbus Caribbean Festival has returned to The Scioto Mile for two days of live music, delicious island-inspired food and drinks including Taste Of Kingston and The Gumbo Dude Food Truck, and a parade. The music lineup includes Pete Funk, BAND AMANIAUZURI, and The Flex Crew.

Sept. 13-15 | 2019 Grandview Oktoberfest | Hofbrauhaus Columbus (Grandview)

Another weekend in September, another chance to celebrate the German Oktoberfest! This time around it's at Hofbrauhaus where live entertainment will clash with German food and bier as well as activities for little ones. Friday will feature WCOL-FM from 6pm- 8pm, while Saturday will host a face painter and balloon artists from 2pm- 6pm. And if you couldn't make it to the face painter on Saturday, they will return on Sunday from 1pm- 4pm in addition to a magician.

Sept. 14 | Crafted Food, Beer & Music Festival | Columbus Commons

From farm-to-table-to-festival, the Crafted Food, Beer & Music Festival brings nine different Columbus restaurants together to showcase their offerings. For $15, you can enjoy live music from George Barrie Band and The Floorwalkers, stuff your face, and know that you're doing some civic good as a portion of proceeds will benefit Freedom a la Cart, an organization providing paid workforce training and supportive services to survivors of human trafficking.

Sept. 14 | Oktoberfest Party | Wolf's Ridge Brewing

Wolf's Ridge is getting in on the Oktoberfest action and on Saturday you can find brats, spaetzle, and of course, WRB's very own Oktoberfest bier. If you really want to feel the Oktoberfest vibes, purchase a $14 stein and hoist it high!

Sept. 14 | Old Hilliardfest | Main St. in Old Hilliard

This street fair takes place in Old Hilliard where visitors can explore car shows and sunflower shows as well as all the fixings of most festivals: live music, food, and activities for kids at the kid's fair. Support local, and have fun while doing so!

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