Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don't fiddle around with Hilary Hahn!

I just loved this story, recounted by violinist Hilary Hahn, about her tour in Japan last May with Paavo and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen! Read the whole thing in Mary Ellyn Hutton's article Violinist Hahn not afraid to take chances in today's Cincinnati Post.
Don't call violinist Hilary Hahn a chicken. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Paavo Järvi did and got bluegrass in his Beethoven.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Paavo Järvi did and got bluegrass in his Beethoven.

It happened when Hahn was touring Japan with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in May (Järvi is also DK artistic director).

The Grammy-winning violinist, 26, who performs Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto Friday and Saturday with the CSO under guest conductor Andrey Boreyko, was getting ready for a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the DK in Yokohama.

"I was warming up backstage with this tune called 'Down in the Swamp.' It's by Bela Fleck. He heard me, and he's like, 'You should do that onstage while you're tuning.'

"I said, 'I'm not going to go onstage and play that' and he said, 'You're chicken.' "

Hahn, who doesn't shrink from challenges, even when couched as a casual remark, decided to accept Jarvi's dare. "I thought, 'How can I work this in?' "

Like many soloists who do it to insert their own compositional touches, she put it in the cadenza, the portion of a concerto where the orchestra stops and the soloist continues in improvisatory-style.

"I didn't tell anyone I was doing it. When I got into it, I could tell that he recognized it. The audience thought it was a traditional Japanese tune. The orchestra couldn't figure out where I came up with it. He (Järvi) loved it. The next night I came up with another one. It was fun because it was like a thematic improvisational exercise."

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