By Hannah Edgar
In December 2001, Regina Carter was invited to Genoa, Italy to play on one of the most famous violins in existence: a 1743 Guarneri once favored by the virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. NicknamedIl Cannone (“The Cannon”) for its explosive, robust sound, the violin is usually only played in a performance once a year by the winner of the Premio Paganini, a violin competition featuring young musicians from across the globe.
When news broke that Carter would be performing a concert in the city on Il Cannone, conservative Genoans were appalled. Not only was Carter black—the first black musician to play on the instrument—but she planned to play jazz, of all genres.