November 2007

Rachel's Musical Adventures: Please vote for me!

November 28, 2007 12:20

Please vote for me!

I have been nominated for “Best Classical Entertainer” by the Chicago Music Awards. Please take a moment to visit and vote in Category 7. The results will be announced at the end of January. Thanks for your help!

My best YouTube video yet!

“Brahms Violin Concerto, 3rd movement - Rachel Barton Pine”

I am very excited to be able to share with you the last movement of the Brahms Concerto which I performed with the Israel Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Gil Shohat in Tel Aviv on October 16, 2007. Many thanks to the ICO for allowing me to record this concert.

Please share this video with all your friends!

It finally happened to me…

This is the story of what happened during one of my concerts in South Carolina a couple weeks ago. This blogger tells it better than I ever could!

“BEFOREMATH”: Are you ready for what MIGHT happen?
By Terry Weaver
CEO, Chief Executive Boards International

I recently saw an amazing example of organizational preparation for
"what might happen". It was at a symphony concert, featuring one of the top women violin soloists in the world, Rachel Barton Pine.

During an aggressively-played performance, I heard a "plink" that shouldn't have been there. She had broken a string (on an instrument insured for $7 million). None of that was amazing, although I had never before seen a soloist break a string in a full orchestra performance. The music stopped, and the audience was expecting some confusion on stage -- at least a 5-10 minute break in the piece being performed
-- while the string was replaced.

Didn't happen that way. Without hesitation, she turned to the Concertmaster
(1st chair/1st stand violinist), handed her instrument to him, and he exchanged his with her. Even that wasn't really amazing -- he was the closest person at hand who had what she needed -- a working violin.

The amazing part was what happened next. The Concertmaster, as the leader of the violin section, needs to be playing, and he needed a violin, as well. The 2nd person on the same
stand handed him her violin. And THEN the last person at the back of the 1st violin section walked forward, exchanged his instrument with the stronger player, took the injured violin, and walked off the stage.

Meanwhile, the conductor had determined where to pick up the performance. He looked at the soloist, said "189?" (the measure number in the score), she nodded, he raised his baton and the performance resumed in less than a minute of total elapsed time.

Behind the scenes, then, the broken string was replaced, and during the applause following the first number the soloist's violin was returned to her and everyone else swapped violins back down the line.

What does this have to do with business?

We often analyze and try to learn from the aftermath of an event. This was an extraordinary case of "beforemath". I talked with both the guest artist and the orchestra members after the concert and learned that she had never before broken a string in a symphony performance. She had, however, thought about what she would do if that ever happened. The orchestra had never seen a soloist break a string before, either. Likewise, they had talked about (although not actually practiced) what they would do if that happened. Their forethought about an unlikely, but easily imaginable event made what could have otherwise been a disruption to a great performance into a "business as usual" incident.

Do our own organizations spend enough time on "beforemath"? Are you ready for things that are unlikely, but in fact might happen? Perhaps an upcoming staff meeting or offsite session would be a good place to spend an hour or so with your team brainstorming a list of things that deserve a "beforemath" plan.

I’m featured in important new musicological book, The WORLD of WOMEN in Classical Music

This wonderful book is a treasure trove of history, and I’m very honored to be included among the biographies of musical women past and present.

Buy your copy at

From the official press release:
The eagerly awaited sequel to Dr. Anne Gray's The Popular Guide to Classical Music, the newly released, The WORLD of WOMEN in Classical Music, is written in the same scintillating style and reflects over 10 years of research and incredible WEALTH of information! Besides Composers, Conductors and Performers, also explored are two hitherto neglected fields: Musicologists, and Women in the BUSINESS of Music. And what a field the latter is! Women behind the scenes in Orchestras and Opera companies! Women in the publishing and recording businesses. Women as nurturing and pioneering impresarios up to today’s savvy Agents! Plus a miscellany of other niches from running Chamber Music America to the American Symphony Orchestra League. As if this were not enough, the icing on the cake comes in the last chapter, The Unforgotten, which beautifully pays homage to Women Philanthropists whose generosity has founded Symphonies and kept Classical Music alive and vibrant. Each entry is a miniature masterpiece of biography, revealing personal glimpses of talented women who defied limiting social conventions to forge a path for themselves and future generations. Starting in caveman times, this exciting book takes us through the musical eras: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern, always within the context of historic events. Women in music known and admired by Emperors, Kings, Popes and the foremost male counterparts of each century, now spring back to life in the pages of this generous 1100 page scenario. History will prove that Dr. Gray has fulfilled a destiny by drawing back the veil that has enshrouded centuries of women in music, bequeathing to us a detailed and colorful tapestry upon which to feast our imagination, and forever enrich our minds, hearts and spirits......

new podcast episode

Rachel Barton Pine discusses Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor

Rachel Barton Pine explains the unusual structure of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor by Max Bruch, shares her favorite moments, and talks about its importance in pedagogy and in testing violins. Includes many musical examples.

Coming soon: my UK debut

I will be making my United Kingdom debut when I perform the Tchaikovsky Concerto in four concerts with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Otto Kamu. The program also includes Rakastava and The Tempest Suite No. 2 by Sibelius and Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana.” For more information, please contact the SCO at 0131-557-6800 or visit

Concert times and locations:
Wed 12/5, 7:30 pm, Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries
Thu 12/6, 7:30pm, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
Fri 12/7, 7:30pm, City Halls, Glasgow
Sat 12/8, 7:30pm, Aberdeen Music Hall, Aberdeen

Hope to see you there, wearing your best kilt!

REVIEW: Last week’s concert with the New Mexico Symphony

November 18, 2007
Albuquerque Journal
"Pine, Feast Make for Memorable NMSO Night"
by D. S. Crafts

To everyone's delight violinist Rachel Barton Pine is becoming a regular visitor to New Mexico. Having performed with the Santa Fe Symphony earlier this season, she arrived on the stage of Popejoy Hall on Friday night as soloist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in the Violin Concerto No. 3 of Saint-Saens.

The golden gown in which she appeared seemed a visual analogue of the golden sound which emanated from her instrument (a 1742 del Gesu). If Rembrandt's brilliant golds could "sound," they would have the timbre of Pine's playing. The Saint-Saens concerto puts the violin center stage throughout and Pine responded in a marvel of espressivo and beauty of line. Beginning with the opening phrase in meaty low tones, she sang with lilting voice through the soaring lines of the Andantino, then nimbly into the free-spirit of the Finale. Maestro Figueroa, himself an outstanding violinist, knows exactly what support to give the soloist, and provided a colorful cushion with plenty of attention to woodwind details, never once overpowering the violin.

Announcing her encore in a loud and clear voice (thank you!), she commemorated the NMSO's 75th anniversary with a Theme and Variations on a popular song— Happy Birthday. She proceeded to make even that banal tune sound like real music and followed with a series of variations which rolled the Paganini Caprices into one almost unbelievable feat of virtuosity. Great fun for us; an astounding display of technique for her.

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Rachel's Musical Adventures: Live on the Internet 3 times

November 15, 2007 01:46

Live on the Internet - 3 times

This week, I will be giving interviews on rock and classical radio stations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both of these stations stream live on the internet, so you can listen too!

Thursday, November 15, 8:30am Mountain Time (9:30am Central, 10:30am Eastern)
94 Rock – listen online at
This will be an interview on the morning show with TJ Trout, and will probably include a live performance.

Thursday, November 15, 12:30pm Mountain Time (1:30pm Central, 2:30pm Eastern)
Classical KHFM – listen online at – click on the “On The Air” button on the top of the left-hand sidebar.
This will be an interview with host Bonnie Renfro.

Saturday, November 17, 8:30am Mountain Time (9:30am Central, 10:30am Eastern)
Classical KHFM – listen online at – click on the “On The Air” button on the top of the left-hand sidebar.
This will be a special interview for the “Classics for Kids” program with host Bob Bishop.

New YouTube video

“Trio Settecento performs Leclair’s Sonata No. 12”

Trio Settecento (Rachel Barton Pine, baroque violin, John Mark Rozendaal, viola da gamba, David Schrader, harpsichord) performs the first and second movements (Adagio and Allegro ma non troppo) of Leclair's Sonata in G Major, Op. 5 No. 12, at the Boston Early Music Festival, June 15, 2007. Rachel Barton Pine introduces the piece.

To watch all of my YouTube videos, please visit


The Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
November 11, 2007
“Violinist's Global Life Goes Beyond Playing”
By David Steinberg

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine seems to be redefining what it means to be a touring concert artist.

Like many classical musicians, Pine crisscrosses the world.

But she does more than give concerts and master classes in quickie visits. Pine spent a week at the end of September in Singapore, where, among other things, she gave a private recital for the president of the island-nation and the next day gave a public concert.

During two weeks in mid-October, Pine was in Israel giving recitals at chamber music societies and at a kibbutz and then several concerts in Tel Aviv with the Israel Chamber Orchestra.

Back in August, before Pine performed in Gottingen, Germany and Santa Fe, she was in the West African country of Ghana for 10 days. The purpose of her stay there was to attend the International Consortium for Music of Africa and Its Dispora. Pine was representing her foundation.

"My foundation has a new program called Global Heartstrings to support classical music in developing countries," Pine said in a phone interview from her office in Chicago.

"We gather supplies, collecting shoulder bars, rosins, etc ... We're helping groups in India and Haiti with what they need, any developing country where people want to play classical music."

In Ghana, she worked with some of the country's youth who are learning to play stringed instruments. Pine also performed with the national symphony and played for Ghana's president.

"The people in the symphony are just regular folks playing classical music because they love it so much. I was there encouraging them," she said.

Pine returns to the Land of Enchantment next weekend to perform in three concerts with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

She will play Camille Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto No. 3.

The concerto relates to her CD "American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell" on the Cedille label. It debuted on the Billboard charts at No. 12 in July. The album has many of the pieces that Powell, one of the top concert violinists of her time, performed as a touring artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Saint-Saens work isn't on the CD, but Pine said Powell had performed it with John Philip Sousa's band.

Sousa, known for his marches, always had a soprano and a violinist on his concert programs, Pine said. He tried to come as close as he could to what we know today as a symphony orchestra.

"He always included cutting-edge classical music," she said.

Pine recorded the CD to recognize Powell because she was a virtuoso and is an obscure figure to today's audiences. Powell was the first American musician who wrote her own program notes for her repertoire and one of the first to do outreach.

"She'd find a small town on a day off and probably give the town's first ever classical concert. She'd talk to the audience from the stage about what she was performing," Pine said.

"We think of some of these things as innovations. In fact, they were thought of 100 years ago."

Pine enjoys giving pre-concert talks because she thinks it helps connect the audience to the music and to the artist. Making connections to her audience— and to potential audiences— is one of her longtime priorities. Pine has her own blog, podcasts and her own channel on She also plays her violin on rock music stations when she tours.

"There are all different ways to reach out to people. I'm sure if Maud Powell were alive today she'd be doing all of that," she said.

Also on the NMSO program are Sir William Walton's oratorio Belshazzar's Feast, which is based on the Book of Daniel and Psalms 81 and 137 and Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, also known as Fingal's Cave.

REVIEW: My concert in Greenville last week

The Greenville News (South Carolina)
November 11, 2007
“GSO’s ‘Red Violin’ program an astonishing evening of music”
By Ann Hicks

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s Saturday night Masterworks concert, “The Red Violin,” proved to be one unforgettable soundscape painted with brilliant detail by soloist, conductor and musicians.

American violin virtuosa Rachel Barton Pine opened the program with dazzling solo performances of two different works and an encore to remember.

Her performance was propulsive – filled with passion fueled with jaw-dropping technical salvo as she bowed overtime on her 1742 Guarnerius del Gesu “ex-Soldat.”

Her 16-minute performance of the “Chaconne” from John Coriglione’s Italianate score written for Francois Girard’s 1998 movie “The Red Violin” was a revelation. Pine explored and mined the works’ virtuosic etudes until it sent shivers up the spine.

Her sexy, unbridled romp through Pablo de Sarasate’s “Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen” had the audience going berserk – whistling, yelling, applauding – after she all but materialized the alluring gypsy woman in the torrid “Seguidilla” and the fiery “Habanera.”

Maestro Edvard Tchivzhell and the musicians proved to be well-matched partners to Pine.

After repeated callbacks by the delighted audience, the young virtuosa encored with her version of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate the GSO’s 60th anniversary, she said. It is darn near impossible to describe what all Pine did to that tune. Suffice to say it proved to be an experience of a lifetime as she simultaneously bowed and plucked the del Gesu and sent her fingers running from one end of the soundboard to the other. It was awesome stuff.

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Follow my adventures in real time!

November 7, 2007 20:08

Follow my adventures in real time!

The newest hot social networking site, Twitter is a service for friends to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Find out what I’m doing all day long by visiting to view my posts. You don’t have to join to read my page, but you’ll probably want to - tweeting is really fun!

My photos are moving to Flickr

I’m in the process of transferring all of the photos from my web site to It will be so much easier to add new ones frequently, and you’ll be able to comment on them too. Over Christmas break, I’m planning to go through my archives and post photos from past years that you’ve never seen before. If you have any photos of yourself with me or anything else you think should be on my Flickr site, please email them to me at

November 5: Live From WFMT

On Monday, November 5, from 8:00-10:00pm Central Time, I will be performing live on radio station WFMT, 98.7 in Chicago. You can listen online at

The program will feature rarely heard chamber music by Nicolo Paganini, including the Three Duetti Concertanti for violin and bassoon with Preman Tilson and various sonatas for violin and guitar with Rene Izquierdo. Preman, Rene, and I will also chat with popular program host Kerry Frumkin.

About Preman Tilson
After studying at the conservatories in New York, Boston and Arizona, Preman Tilson began performing in such ensembles as the Grant Park Festival Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera Company. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well. In 1993, Mr. Tilson moved to New Zealand after being named Principal Bassoon with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

About Rene Izquierdo
Cuban classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo is on the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. After graduating from the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana, Mr Izquierdo came to the U.S. and graduated from Yale with a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma. He has performed as a soloist as well as in chamber music concerts throughout North America, Cuba, Italy, Spain and France. Prior to joining UWM, he also taught at universities in New York.

new podcast episodes

My most recent podcast episodes feature conversations with friends. Please visit to listen to all of them.

Do you have a question you’d like me to answer on my podcast? Just send your question via text or as an MP3 attachment to Please also let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. If you use iTunes, be sure to subscribe!

Episode 14: Rachel and her sister Hannah Barton talk about the R.E.B. Foundation's newest initiative, Global Heartstrings.

The Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation announces its newest initiative: Global HeartStrings. Classical musicians in developing countries often cannot obtain such basic supplies as rosin, strings, reeds, and sheet music. Furthermore, they do not have access to instrument repair shops, resulting in their instruments becoming unplayable due to lack of basic maintenance. Global HeartStrings is dedicated to supporting these aspiring classical musicians.

Rachel's youngest sister, 20-year-old violinist Hannah Barton, is helping organize supply-gathering drives for Global HeartStrings.

For more information, please visit Be sure to also join the Global HeartStrings groups on Facebook and MySpace.

Episode 15: Rachel Barton Pine talks with Maestro Christoph Mueller

Rachel Barton Pine talks with Maestro Christoph Mueller, music director of the Gottingen Symphony Orchestra, about Joseph Joachim's "Hungarian" Concerto and his life as a conductor. This conversation was recorded in Gottingen on September 1, 2007, the morning after their performance together.

Episode 16: Rachel Barton Pine talks with Venezuelan violinist Jesus Florido

Rachel Barton Pine talks with her friend, Venezuelan violinist Jesus Florido, about his life as a master of many styles including baroque, classical, jazz, Latin, rock, world music, and more. Jesus also discusses his approach to music education and why he teaches his students to improvise and ... cook! In addition, he plays a short original tune inspired by Venezuelan music. For more information about Jesus Florido, please visit

REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Concerto in Youngstown on October 20

The Vindicator (Ohio)
October 22, 2007
“Fleischer, Pine shine in program”
By Robert Rollin

The concert’s high point was provided by stellar violin soloist Rachel Barton Pine’s exemplary and inspired “Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto” performance. From her very first entrance it was clear that she was totally comfortable with the music. She projected beautifully over the orchestral texture, and her rich sound seemed to pour forth effortlessly. Her trill section was charming and crystalline during the more rhythmically-differentiated second theme. The orchestra accompanied very well, except for a few ragged moments in the tutti following the trills. Pine’s energy was infectious as she dug into rapid passages with her powerful bow arm gestures. Her sound on the low G string was especially lush and vibrant. The cadenza was both intense and graceful.

The muted opening to the lyric second movement, “Canzonetta,” was simply gorgeous. The expressive exchanges between soloist and clarinet and among the orchestral upper woodwinds were charming, as was the violin re-entry accompanied by lovely low-clarinet arpeggios. Notwithstanding her exceptional technique, Pine seems most at home with lyrical musical gestures and excelled in the second movement.

The third movement, beginning without pause after a short transition, moved with almost reckless abandon. The somewhat slower alternating theme provided some of the most lyrical moments in all the violin concerto literature and Pine, Fleischer and the orchestra showed themselves up to maintaining continuity, bringing out contrast, and closing the piece with flair.

Pine’s encore was her own virtuoso solo violin composition, “Introduction, Theme, and Variations on God Defend New Zealand.” The engagingly light piece shows how well she has absorbed the virtuoso literature from Paganini to Sarasate. One particularly dazzling moment involved the lovely melody soaring over a left-hand pizzicato accompaniment. The audience was enthralled.


The Sunday Times, Singapore
September 30, 2007
By Stephanie Yap

S.T.: What are you reading now?

R.B.P.: Putting the Arts In The Picture by Nick Rabkin. It is a non-fiction book about a new movement in education in America called arts integration.

This is an approach where they use the arts to discuss other topics and, at the same time, teach artistic skills to the highest level. They have discovered that it not only improves the academic skills of children, but also make them more effective artists.

This is something I have believed for a long time. I was home-schooled since the third grade as I was already performing quite extensively. I studied a lot of history and could relate what I studied to the music I play. I do feel that this opened my eyes as an artist.

I met the author when I was invited to sit on a panel on music education for teenagers about 1 1/2 years ago. This is the second time I’m reading the book - I’m re-reading it now to highlight certain passages which I can use when I give speeches about the importance of music education.

S.T.: If your house was burning down, which book would you save?

R.B.P.: The L’Art Du Violon (The Art Of The Violin) by Jean-Baptiste Cartier. It was first published in the late 1700s and is a collection of violin repertoire from the early 1700s.

He got many of the pieces from other sources, but some of these have been lost, and for many pieces, this collection is now the earliest existing source.

There are other copies of the book, but mine belonged to Cartier himself, and it has red pencil markings and extensive paragraphs of comments by him.

I bought it at an auction of violinist Isaac Stern’s belongings when he died in 2001, for only a few hundred US dollars.

One of my plans for the book is to take it to the Newberry Library, the famous humanities library in Chicago where I am a scholar-in-residence. I would like to work with the conservation department to create some kind of electronic replica of the book so that everyone will have access to it online.

The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin)
October 4, 2007
“Violinist to help Fox Valley Symphony usher in a new season amid growing expectations”
By Kara Patterson

Chicago-based classical violin soloist Rachel Barton Pine, whose tour stops include Singapore, Israel, Scotland and Puerto Rico, will join the Fox Valley Symphony Saturday at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton.

It’s the second time the young violinist has shared the state with the FVS, having performed here nearly a decade ago

Pine, who debuted professionally with the Chicago String Ensemble at age 7, played Max Bruch’s concerto “Scottish Fantasy” on her last time through the Fox Valley. On Saturday, the now 32-year-old will perform a Mozart concerto.

We caught up with Pine to talk about the concerto, the work she does through her foundation and what she’s listening to when she’s not on stage.

P.C.: What should your Fox Valley audience know about Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major?”

R.B.P.: One important thing to mention, actually, is that I will be using my own cadenzas for the Mozart concerto. It’s kind of like the guitar solo in a rock song - it’s the most personal way that I can interpret the concerto. Mozart wrote all the tunes, but I definitely had so much fun composing my cadenzas. It’s just been a wonderful process and I’m so excited to be able to share them with everyone.

P.C.: You’ve scheduled a master class Friday at Lawrence University. Can you offer the community’s classical music students some advice?

R.B.P.: In classical, you really do have to be a close to perfect as you can, and that takes a tremendous amount of work, just on the physical side of playing the instrument. And then of course there’s the important historic study that you have to, or that you ought to do, learning about the time and place in which the piece was written, and analyzing the score. In the end, in the moment of performance, you have to get past all of that and you have to engage the audience in the emotions of the music. You have to balance your practice session between working on all of that accuracy and also allowing yourself some degree of freedom at times to play the music, and think about how you want it to end up being dramatically.

P.C.: You are the president of the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, which assists young classical musicians through loan and grant programs. What are some of the foundation’s goals for the coming year?

R.B.P.: We have a new project that we just started this year, Global HeartStrings. This project supports aspiring classical musicians in developing countries. One of the groups we are going to help is affiliated with Lawrence University. My understating is these children attend a particular music school down there in Haiti, which sends Lawrence students down there to teach. That group also doesn’t have access to some basic instruments and supplies. Lawrence music professor Janet Anthony put together a very comprehensive list of exactly what they’re lacking, so I’m hoping to fill as much of that wish list as I possibly can.

P.C.: Can you tell me more about the foundation’s “The String Student’s Library of Music by Black Composers” project?

R.B.P.: It’s going to be the first-ever curriculum of music by black composers from all around the world from the 1700s to the present day, in volumes for beginners through advanced students, not only their repertoire but also the history of the composers and other history such as the all-black orchestras of America of the 1800s, or the fact that Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass were very enthusiastic amateur sting players and so on.

P.C.: When you’re trying to unwind and relax, what are you listening to?

R.B.P.: Well, usually heavy metal. That’s my favorite kind of non-classical music, everything from classic heavy metal to speed metal and thrash metal.

The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois)
October 18, 2007
“Violinist prepares to play Tchaikovsky for KSO benefit”
By Benji Feldheim

Rachel Barton Pine doesn't get nervous.

The accomplished violinist has been playing since age 3, and said she has been in front of audiences so many times that she gets excited rather than nervous before going on stage.
Since her first orchestra solo performance at age 7 with The Chicago String Ensemble, Pine has gone from winning varied musical competitions in her teens to a successful recording career and a touring schedule that has included performances around the world.

Pine will be performing famed Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major at a benefit concert for the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be held Nov. 2 at Northern Illinois University.

Pine, 33, started in classical but has since adopted an array of styles - including heavy metal, African-American spirituals and folk music. Aside from playing, she started the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation in 2001 to raise awareness of and appreciation for classical music, and sits on various music advocacy boards in her hometown of Chicago and across the country.

Pine took time while on tour in Israel to speak with the Daily Chronicle about writing heavy-metal pieces for the violin, advice for parents on not interfering with their child's wish to play music and trying her hand at playing the blues and a medieval instrument.

D.C.: You have played arrangements of many different musical styles on the violin. Anything new in the works?

R.B.P.: The violin can do anything. I can't even think of a style of music that can't be reproduced on it. I want to take it farther, since classical music has incorporated almost every non-classical style - jazz, pop, folk, music from different times and places. But you would be hard-pressed to find melodies, rhythms and harmonies from heavy metal in classical performances. I'm just starting a commissioning project to ask composers with a background in hard rock and heavy metal to write metal-influenced pieces for the acoustic violin. A lot of rock artists enjoy classical music and are listening to pretty out-there stuff. Their fans should really give classical a try. For example, Marty Friedman from Megadeth is really into the (Eugene) Ysaye violin sonatas. Besides, a Tchaikovsky concerto can be every bit as intense as a rock concert.

D.C.: Do you have any advice for people looking to pursue music?

R.B.P.: I think the most important thing to tell any parent of a kid studying music is: Follow where they want to go. Some people (like me) are geeky and want to be practicing eight hours a day, but some don't enjoy the process. There's a fine line between encouraging, but not nagging them into not enjoying music. I don't envy any parent in that situation. I was kind of weird because I loved practicing. My mom would have to tell me to put the violin down and come to dinner. Many people including wonderful musicians don't like to practice. If you want to be a musician, make a commitment. Whether it's 45 minutes a day or three hours, it doesn't matter, just be sure to do it consistently. Make it fun, try playing old favorites and then new difficult pieces. Just don't be cramming it all in the night before a lesson!

D.C.: What can we expect at the Kishwaukee benefit?

R.B.P.: There's universal human emotion that everyone can relate to in the Tchaikovsky piece. He was struggling with being homosexual at a time where you could be put to death for it. He married a female student who was a troubled young woman. She threatened to commit suicide if he didn't marry her, so he agreed to take the plunge and try living life as a married man, but the situation was so traumatic for him that he tried to commit suicide. He ran off to recuperate and wrote this concerto while he spent time with a young male violinist. The nature of their relationship is not certain, but they did have a positive emotional bond which comes through in the piece. The first movement is full of angst and the second is incredibly lonely, but there are wonderful high spirits in the last movement. It's a huge transition to happiness and exuberance from a very dark place. No matter who we are, each of us has experienced angst, and it can be a struggle to be happy about life again. That's a universal theme, and historically this piece is way ahead of its time.

D.C.: What challenges are you undertaking?

R.B.P.: I definitely want to improve on my ability to play the blues. Growing up in Chicago, it's natural to want to play blues. When I think about the notes in my head, it flows, but when my fingers touch the strings, something gets clogged. I still have to put in the hours. Also, this is more of a hobby, but I recently bought a rebec. It's a threeing, pear-shaped medieval instrument that you hold on your arm. I'm starting to get better, but I still have a long way to go. There's always more to learn, no matter how much repertoire you have. You've never done it all.

November 11 & 12: performances with the Greenville Symphony

My debut appearances with the Greenville Symphony will feature Corigliano’s Red Violin Chaconne and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel. The concerts will take on Saturday, November 10 at 8 pm and on Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm at the Peace Center Concert Hall in Greenville, South Carolina. The program also includes Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Please be sure to join me one hour before each concert for a pre-concert conversation, where I will discuss my repertoire and take audience questions.

For more information, please contact Greenville Symphony Orchestra at (864) 467-3000 or visit

To watch a YouTube video of my discussion of the Carmen Fantasy and Red Violin Chaconne, please visit

November 16, 17 & 18: performances with the New Mexico Symphony

My fourth visit to the New Mexico Symphony will feature the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 with Maestro Guillermo Figueroa. The concerts will take place on Friday, November 16 at 8pm, on Saturday, November 17 at 6pm, and on Sunday, November 18 at 2pm, in Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. The program also includes Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the NMSO Chorus.

Please be sure to join me one hour before each concert for a pre-concert conversation, where I will discuss my concerto and take audience questions.

For more information, please contact the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra at (505) 881-9590 or visit

Please visit www./ to read program notes about these performances.

November 17: master class in Albuquerque

On Saturday, November 17, from 10:30am-12:30pm, I will give a master class for students of the University of New Mexico. Repertoire will include movements of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Barber, Prokofiev, and Bruch, as well as Ysaye’s “Obsession.” The master class will take place at Robertson and Sons Violin Shop,


Tour of the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra:
December 5 in Dumfries
December 6 in Glasgow
December 7 in Edinburgh
December 8 in Aberdeen

You can find information about all of my tour dates for the 2007-2008 season by visiting

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