Karkowska Sisters Duo to Perform at Lander University

November 03, 2011

Karkowska SistersGreenwood Lander Performing Arts' 65th season continues on Monday, Nov. 21, with an appearance by the Karkowska Sisters Duo.

Anna Karkowska, a virtuoso violinist, and her sister Kasha, a concert pianist, are graduates of Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland, and the Julliard School of Music in New York City. They have recorded for Polish, Mexican and American television and radio, including PBS; have performed in venues which include Carnegie Hall in New York City; and have played at many prestigious events and festivals, including Camarissima, the International Chamber Music Festival, in Mexico City, Mexico; the International Mozart Festival, in Miami, Fla.; and at Pope John Paul II's 80th birthday gala, in Chicago, Ill.

Anna, accompanied by her sister, won first prize at the international competition at the Aspen Music Festival, in Colorado, and the WGUC International Radio Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also received one of the most prestigious awards for a violinist: a loan of Guarneri del Gesu, "Sennhauser," from the elite Stradivari Society. Anna is the only violinist born in Poland to be so honored.

The Karkowska Sisters' performance, sponsored by Stockman Lands, Inc., with additional support by the South Carolina Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts and Lander University, will begin with Russian-born violinist Jascha Heifetz's arrangement of American composer George Gershwin's "Summertime." The program, dubbed "90 Minutes Around the World," continues with Spanish violinist and composer Pablo Sarasate's "Carmen Fantasy, Op. 15;" French composer Jules Massenet's "Meditation;" and Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2."

Following intermission, the Karkowskas will perform "Salut d'Amour," by English composer Edward Elgar; "La Campanella," by Italian violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini; "Serenade," by Austrian composer Franz Schubert; "Polonaise Brillante Op. 4," by Polish composer and violinist Henryk Wieniawski; "Canzonetta," by Russian composer Piotr Illych Tchaikovsky; and Belgian composer and violinist Henri Vieuxtemps' "Souvenir d'Amerique (Yankee Doodle Variations)."

Contacted recently, the Karkowskas issued a statement in which they said they tried to put together a "universally appealing" program that would include both popular tunes and virtuoso pieces, a program that would "attract both a sophisticated listener and 'the accidental music tourist.'"

Their goal, they said, was "to make great music a bit more approachable and a lot of fun. We wish to convince our audience, if it isn't yet 'on our side,' that classical music, with its incredibly rich heritage, belongs to all of us."

GLPA Outreach director Jackie Counts, former GLPA executive director Myra Shaffer and Lander director of special events Eddie Shaw met the Karkowskas at the Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta three years ago, when they were in town for a performing arts conference. The next thing they knew, the sisters were playing a private concert for them in a hotel meeting room. Counts said, "the three of us sat in that little room and they played and played and played."

Counts, who described the Karkowskas as "humble but super-talented," said "very few performers of that caliber would take the time to share their music with such a small audience." She and Shaffer, she said, "were really impressed."

Admission for the Karkowska Sisters' concert, set to begin at 7:30 p.m. in Lander's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, is $25 for adults and $15 for students and children. Tickets can be purchased by calling the GLPA office at 864-388-8326.

New GLPA executive director Cecily Morris said she is eagerly looking forward to the Karkowskas' visit to Greenwood. "I can't wait to meet them and hear them perform," she said. "I know they're going to be great."