The Village

Hilary Hahn waxes Classical

If you’re a fan of the music in The Village, you’ll probably recognize her name.  She was the violinist on the score.  Here is an excerpt from an article about her:

She has few complaints about a career with recent highlights that include a Grammy Award, bestselling recordings, a performance on the soundtrack of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film The Village and a guest appearance on Worlds Apart, the latest CD by the Austin art-metal rock group …And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead.

Last Monday she performed with the Montreal Symphony, a few days later she was on a stage in Austin, Texas, and this week, the26-year-old violinist described by Time magazine as “America’s best young classical musician,” will be in Ottawa for her debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Next week, she’s off to Switzerland.

So Hilary Hahn didn’t hesitate when asked if there’s anything she doesn’t like about a career that takes her from her home in Philadelphia to concert halls around the world.

“The airport security checks,”Hahn said from Austin, before rehearsals with the Austin Symphony. “I can deal with everything but security checks. They’re getting more and more invasive. That’s the one thing that is bothering me at the moment.”

Otherwise,she has few complaints about a career with recent highlights that include a Grammy Award, bestselling recordings, a performance on the soundtrack of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film The Village and a guest appearance on Worlds Apart, the latest CD by the Austin art-metal rock group …And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead.

Band founder Conrad Keely is a fan of Hahn’s. The CD is included on Hahn’s list of “Music You Should Hear” on amazon.com.

“Ilove the whole album. I really appreciate the intelligence of the musical structures and the lyrics,” writes Hahn. Her list also includes a disc by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, double-bassist Edgar Meyer’s recording of Bach Cello Suites, a disc of violinist Fritz Kreisler playing his own compositions, and Bela Fleck’s Perpetual Motion, in which the banjo virtuoso performs his arrangements of classical pieces.

Hahn,who grew up in Baltimore and Philadelphia, had her first violin lesson a month before her fourth birthday. Admitted to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute at the age of 10, she studied for seven years there with Jascha Brodsky, the last surviving student of Belgian violinist and composer Eugene Ysaye.

At 16, Hahn signed a contract with Sony Classical and made her Carnegie Hall debut. She now records for Deutsche Grammophon. Between concerts, she files updates on her website (www.hilaryhahn.com). The site includes Hahn’s journal entries and photos from the road, the link to her list of recommended discs on Amazon, artwork by fans and tips on interesting things to watch for in orchestra concerts. She suggests, for example, watching the faces of the oboe and clarinet players.

“When they have to play long sections without taking a breath, their skin turns from red to purple,their veins and eyes start to pop out, and their facial muscles look very strained. I think I’d pass out if I had to perform such a feat,”she writes.

In Ottawa, Hahn will perform Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor with the orchestra and guest conductor Arild Remmereit, an acclaimed young Norwegian who is stepping in for NACO director Pinchas Zukerman. In December, Zukerman decided to take a sabbatical that will keep him away until next month.

Because Zukerman had to be replaced, the rest of the concert has changed, and will include music by Sibelius and Grieg rather than the Verdi and Shostakovich promised in the season brochure.

Here are a few excerpts from Hahn’s chat with the Citizen:

Citizen: Did you always know that violin was your instrument?

Hahn: It just worked out really well for me. I took piano for several years,and it was helpful, but it was never my instrument. There is so much you can do with the violin. You can make it sound like a voice, you can make it sound like a percussion instrument. … I also really like the repertoire.

There are composers who have written for violin who haven’t written for many other instruments besides piano and orchestra… but it’s not like the piano repertoire, which is so big you have nohope of getting to all of it in the course of your career.

I occasionally tried other instruments for fun, and if I had settled on another instrument, it would probably have been something in the percussion family.

Citizen: There is a lot of interesting information on your website, for people who already know classical music and for those who might be new to it. What do you most like about having the site?

Hahn: It’s a good change of pace. Right now I’m working toward my next album (a disc of Spohr and Paganini to be released next fall), so I haven’t been able to work on the site as much. As soon as Ican get out of my hotel room a bit more, I’ll take more pictures and post some new things.

When I was growing up, I had a lot of access to behind-the-scenes stuff, because I knew people in the Baltimore Symphony who would take me backstage. I was lucky to see how things worked before I got immersed in it. The site shows people what it’s like to be a musician on the road. It’s partly for young people who are perhaps thinking of becoming musicians, but it’s also for people who have been going to concerts for years and are curious about what goes on behind the scenes.

One of the best things is getting the fan artwork from kids, and sometimes from professional artists,which I post. I like having the outlet for that.

The NAC Orchestra performs Wednesday and Thursday with violinist Hilary Hahn.

Read the rest at The Ottawa Citizen

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