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On a Personal Note: A Conversation with Violinists Joseph Deninzon and Yulia Ziskel.

Event Type
Krouse Family Visiting Scholars in Judaism and Western Culture Fund | Program in Jewish Culture & Society | Illinois Humanities Research Institute | Slavic Languages and Literature | Champaign Urbana Jewish Federation | Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity Equity & Inclusion | Illini Hillel
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Aug 31, 2020   7:30 pm  
Yulia Ziskel and Joe Deninzon
Jewish Culture & Society

A conversation with Yulia Ziskel & Joe Deninzon about their journey from their Russian-Jewish roots to current positions and relationship with Jewishness/Judaism and how that has evolved over the years.

Yulia Ziskel has established herself as a highly acclaimed violinist. A member of the New York Philharmonic’s First Violin section (Friends and Patrons Chair), she has also performed all over the world as a soloist and chamber musician. Ms. Ziskel has been praised by the Strad Magazine for “The sweetness of her sound.” Ms.Ziskel arrived to the United States as a refugee from St. Petersburg, Russia in 1994 when she was 17 years old with help of HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; now the global Jewish non-profit that protects refugees). Her parents settled in Atlanta, Georgia and have been living there since. 6 months after her arrival to the US, she was accepted to the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, where she completed her Bachelor of Music Degree. Yulia received her Master’s Degree at the Juilliard School in New York City.

You can find additional information and watch a brief video about Ms. Ziskel at  

Joe Deninzon has been hailed by critics as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin,” because of his innovative style on the “Viper” seven-string electric violin. Joe has worked with the Who, Bruce Springsteen, 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, Ritchie Blackmore, Alex Skolnick, Smokey Robinson, Les Paul, Peter Criss from KISS, Renaissance with Annie Haslam, Kurt Elling, and as a soloist with Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY All Star Jazz Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet.

Joe is the lead singer and electric violinist for the progressive rock band, Stratospheerius, and the Latin Jazz String Quartet Sweet Plantain. In 2015, Joe premiered his “Concerto for Seven String Electric Violin and Orchestra”.

As an educator, Joe has taught at Mark O’Connor’s String Camp and Mark Wood’s Rock Orchestra Camp, and makes annual appearances performing at the Grand Canyon Music Festival with renowned harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio. In 2006, Joe co-founded the Grand Canyon School of Rock in Arizona, an annual music program for local high school students. He travels worldwide as a clinician and has contributed articles to Strings, Downbeat, and American String Teachers Journal. In 2012, Mel Bay published Joe’s book on electric violin techniques, titled “Plugging In.” A BMI Jazz Composer’s Grant recipient and winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, he has written a solo piece for renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine, and in 2015, premiered his Electric Violin Concerto.

Joe has made the Downbeat Critic’s poll for “rising stars” in jazz/rock violin. Chris Haigh’s book, “Discovering Rock Violin,” lists one of Joe’s recorded solos among the “Top 20 greatest rock violin solos of all time.”

Joe holds Bachelor’s degrees in from Indiana University and a Master’s from Manhattan School of Music.

Joe was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His family emigrated to the United States as stateless refugees in 1979. In New York, they were helped by the NYANA (New York Association for New Americans), which was active in the late seventies in helping Jewish immigrants from the USSR.  

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