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Menuhin Competition Goes Virtual for 2021

March 5, 2021, 6:00 PM · The Menuhin Competition - originally scheduled for May 2020 in Richmond, Va. and then postponed for a year - announced Friday that the competition will now occur as a virtual event May 14-23, 2021.

"When we postponed the event last March, we never imagined that we wouldn’t be able to bring the competition to Richmond a year later," said Artistic Director Gordon Back. "We made the difficult decision to hold the Competition virtually because the COVID pandemic would have made it impossible for us all to travel to Richmond from so many different parts of the world. We are determined to celebrate these incredibly talented young people, and to provide as much of the ‘Menuhin experience’ for them as we possibly can. Our wonderful partners in Richmond and the London team are working together to create a very special virtual event this May. We are all passionately committed to keeping the spirit of the Competition alive in this exciting new format. Keep reading...

Rachel Barton Pine: Deep Dive into the Bach Sonatas and Partitas

March 5, 2021, 11:41 AM · Personally, I’m still reeling from the announcement that Rachel Barton Pine was going to tackle a different violin concerto each week for 24 weeks. Twenty-four weeks? And now I hear she’s layering on the complete unaccompanied Bach Sonatas & Partitas because, well, because she can. An ambitious undertaking by anyone’s definition. But all in a day’s work for this Herculean violinist who clearly must never sleep.

Rachel’s latest venture is called RBP on JSB: The Bach Masterclasses. During her six-part bi-weekly series, she’ll work with various up-and-coming violinists from conservatories such as the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and the Yale University School of Music. And she’ll feature several Sphinx Laureates as well.

Here is the complete calendar for the six-part series:

March 5: Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002 
March 19: Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV 1001
April 2: Sonata No.2 in A minor, BWV 1003
April 16: Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004
April 30: Sonata No.3 in C major, BWV 1005
May 14: Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006 Keep reading...

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Interview with Violinist Hilary Hahn: 'Paris' and Artistic Collaboration

March 5, 2021, 12:42 AM · Looking at violinist Hilary Hahn's new album - which is out today, you might wonder at first why it's called "Paris." One piece is undeniably French - Ernest Chausson’s Poème, but the other pieces include Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 and the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s "Deux Sérénades."

"I didn't set out to make an album called 'Paris,' but when all was said and done, everything on the album was about Paris, in one way or another," Hilary told me during an interview in February.

"I always admired the idea of the Parisian salons, where artists would get together," Hilary said. "I'm sure the reality of it wasn't quite as romanticized, and I'm sure there were a lot of people who weren't included. But at the same time, that ideal of having a place where everyone can gather and everyone can participate is really interesting."

The album evolved from Hilary's artist's residency in Paris with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with conductor Mikko Franck, for their 2018-19 season.

The highlight of that season grew from an astonishing revelation -- a piece of music that was handed to Mikko Franck by the widow of the celebrated Finnish composer Rautavaara, following his funeral in 2016. It was a piece for solo violin and orchestra - "Deux Sérénades." Keep reading...

My 30-Minute Paganini Routine

March 4, 2021, 5:36 AM · In general, I find that although I lack for talent in virtually every arena of life, I can compensate quite well by a kind of dogged perseverance coupled with an ability to withstand mind-numbing routine. Thus, I can go month after month on a particular technical routine before beginning to freak out and need change. The three main works I use in this late stage of my life, when I have no need or ability to perform anymore, are Simon Fischer’s Warming Up; Albert Sammons' The Secret of Technique in Violin Playing; and Dounis' An Artists’ Technique.

But Leopold Auer suggests that taking technical passages from all over the repertoire is an invaluable means of developing playing. The criticism is usually that decontextualizing passages is a kind of un musical behavior. I can’t say I care too much about that. For maximum efficiency I like to use the Paganini caprices for this purpose. After all, if I destroy them musically I still have the Bach Solo Sonatas don’t I?
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Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine