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Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel's Musical Adventures - record release party!

September 19, 2007 at 8:17 PM

My American Virtuosa CD is back on the Billboard charts!

After debuting at #12 on the Top Classical Albums chart in July, I was back on the charts for the third time during the week of September 8, at #13. Thanks very much to all of you for your support of my album!

For more information about “American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell,” please visit

I’m featured on the “Feminoise: Play Like a Girl!” web site

Check out “Girls who rock: Rachel Barton Pine” at Thanks for the support, Feminoise – horns up!

SEPTEMBER 20: Trio Settecento performs at the Music Institute of Chicago

I will be performing with my period-instrument chamber ensemble, Trio Settecento, at the Music Institute of Chicago’s beautiful Nichols Hall on Thursday, September 20, at 8pm. The all-German program will include 17th and 18th Century works by J.S. Bach, Buxtehude, Pisendel, Muffat, Kreigher, Erlebach, Schop, and Schmelzer.

This performance will also double as the record release party for our long-anticipated new album "An Italian Sojourn" on Cedille Records (which was recorded in Nichols Hall). The whole trio will be available to sign CDs after the concert.

For tickets or more information, please call the Music Institute at 847-905-1500 or visit

The other members of Trio Settecento are John Mark Rozendaal on viola da gamba ( and David Schrader on harpsichord ( With this ensemble, I play a 1770 violin by Nicola Gagliano in original, unaltered condition.

Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “Some of the most refreshing, life-enhancing Baroque playing heard in years," Trio Settecento formed in 1996 to record the complete violin sonatas of George Frideric Handel. The critical acclaim for that disc led to period-instrument recitals throughout the U.S., including their New York debut at the Frick Collection in 2006 and their debut at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2007. For more information, please visit

Interview about Trio Settecento with TimeOut Chicago magazine

“On the Record with Rachel Barton Pine”
by Mark Geelhoed

With a string of recordings on the Cedille label and recitals all over the world, Rachel Barton Pine is one of Chicago’s most visible musical ambassadors, and that career dictates that she isn’t able to perform in her hometown very often. Her period-instrument ensemble Trio Settecento, which includes the Baroque cellist John Mark Rozendaal (left) and harpsichordist David Schrader (right), will perform September 20 at the Music Institute of Chicago. She employs both modern and Baroque violins, and talked to us from Germany about this unique form of switch-hitting.

When did you first pick up the older instrument?
I first became interested in historically informed approaches to Baroque music when I was 14. I found an edition of Corelli’s violin sonatas in a sheet-music store which included written-out ornaments purported to have been notated by someone who attended one of Corelli’s own performances. Up until that point, I hadn’t realized that type of improvisation existed in classical music. I figured you were always supposed to play the notes on the page the way they were written.

Is there a lot of improvisation on the new CD?
Absolutely, but it was a little different. Because it’s a recording, you want to be able to have the same phrase played the same way multiple times so the edits can be made. Playing different ornaments on every take would’ve driven the recording engineers nuts. And the gut strings are going to squeak every once in a while! It doesn’t bother the audience in a concert, but you want a recording to be as pristine as possible.

Did you have a special teacher who taught you that style?
I sought out a specialist in Baroque-period music to take some coachings with, and that specialist turned out to be John Mark Rozendaal! I also took some lessons with David Schrader, when I was still 14. Neither of them are violinists, but I learned about phrasing, about the improvisation, the approach to articulation, and things like that.

Were you using a Baroque violin during this process, or still playing your modern one?
I was still using my modern equipment, but built my interpretations with a historically informed point-of-view. I went the rest of the way step-by-step. I started borrowing a friend’s Baroque bow and using it on my modern violin. That brings you more than halfway there, because you have to adopt the articulation and the tone colors. Then I started putting gut strings on my modern violin. This was in the late ’90s. Then finally, about 2002, I was able to obtain this beautiful Gagliano that I’ve played ever since. It’s from 1770 and it had never gone under the knife.

Gone under the knife?
Sometimes people will take an old violin from that era that’s been modernized and put it back to the condition it was originally in. It’s a little like undoing a sex-change operation: It might or might not be successful! Sometimes they come through and they sound glorious, and sometimes they’re never the same. All the (modernizations) were done to boost the instruments’ projection.

Why hadn’t your violin been modified?
It had belonged to various collections (of violin collectors), so it hadn’t ever been a player’s instrument, and it was absolutely pristine in its original Baroque condition. I was very, very lucky.

My first trip to Asia!

I will be in Singapore from September 23-30. Though I hope to have internet access, you can always reach my assistant Tracy at if you need something right away.

While in Singapore, I will be giving a master class at the NUS Centre for the Arts (September 27 at 7:00pm), performing for the President of the Republic of Singapore (September 28), and giving a recital at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (September 29 at 8:00pm). The recital program, with pianist Lanny Yap, will comprise Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, Brahms’s Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Augusta Read Thomas’s Rush (written for me in 2004), Amy Beach’s Romance, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Deep River, David Baker’s Deliver My Soul, and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.

I look forward to sharing pictures and stories from this trip with all of you!

The following is a partial list of my upcoming 2007 performances. Additional information is available at

October 6 – Mozart Concerto No. 4 with the Fox Valley Symphony in Wisconsin
October 12&13 – three recitals in Israel
October 16,17,18 – Brahms Concerto with the Israel Chamber Orchestra
October 20 – Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Youngstown Symphony in Ohio
October 26 – recital at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, Illinois

New YouTube video

“Rachel Barton Pine talks to teens about Bach”

Rachel Barton Pine talks to teenagers about interpreting Bach's Sonatas and Partitas after her performance at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, May 16, 2007

To watch all of my YouTube videos, please visit

“And then there’s Maud: Rachel Barton Pine discovers century-old soulmate”
by Wynne Delacoma
July 22, 2007

"I'm a total geek," violinist Rachel Barton Pine admitted with an unconcerned laugh. "My bedtime reading is doctoral dissertations."

Like most solo musicians, the Chicago-based Pine is constantly on the road. (Performances in Santa Fe, N.M.; Brooklyn, N.Y., and Singapore are coming up in September.) But she always has been interested in the thrill of a different kind of chase: looking at the world of long-gone composers and performers from unexpected angles.

Among her CDs on Chicago's Cedille label is a disc devoted to music by African-(descended) composers and another pairing concertos by Brahms and his close friend, famed violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim. Give Pine the right research topic, and she may end up spending more hours in music libraries tracking down historical information about composers and performers than practicing the music they produced.

Her latest project focuses on someone close to home: Maud Powell, a once-world-famous violinist born in 1867 in Peru, Ill., 85 miles southwest of Chicago. A child prodigy, Powell studied with Joachim in Berlin. She gave the first U.S. performances of concertos by Tchaikovsky and Dvorak. She traveled with John Philip Sousa's concert band and was the first instrumental soloist to record for what became RCA Victor's prestigious Red Seal label.

According to the Grove Dictionary of Music, "the brilliance, power and finish of (Powell's) playing, combined with an unusual interpretive gift, led her to be recognized as one of America's greatest violinists; contemporary reviewers ranked her alongside Kreisler and Ysaye.''

In June, Pine released a CD titled "American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell'' on the Cedille label, which recently hit Billboard's classical charts at No. 12. Talking about the disc, Pine brimmed with enthusiasm for the artist she sees as something of a soul mate. She became interested in Powell in 1995 after reading a biography by Karen A. Shaffer.

"I was so excited to read about this remarkable woman,'' said Pine. "I'm an avid researcher of music history, and I had never heard of Maud Powell before. The fact that she was born just an hour-and-a-half west of Chicago and that she studied in Chicago, I felt very close to her. She was an Illinois girl, too.''

Nineteenth-century Peru, Ill., might seem like an unlikely birthplace for a globe-trotting female classical musician, but it wasn't unusual for talented women of Powell's era to study the violin or piano seriously, said Pine.

"Their parents would take them to Europe. They would study with the great professors there and come back and have some debuts and tour around for a couple of years. Then they would get married and become some town's local violin or piano teacher." These women, said Pine, were often the ones who pushed to develop symphony orchestras and concert series that eventually blossomed in cities and towns throughout the country.

Though Powell did marry -- relatively late for her day, in her mid-30s -- she had no interest in retiring from the stage. That is one of one of several parallels Pine sees between herself and Powell. She was a successful soloist in her (late 20s) in 2004 when she married Greg Pine, a computer entrepreneur. Like Powell's husband, he accompanies his wife on her concert tours.

Also like Powell, Pine did what she calls her "finishing'' training in Berlin, with a student of one of Joachim's pupils. Both women were interested in music by African-American composers, and like Pine, Powell was actively involved in bringing classical music to new audiences. She gave annual U.S. tours, and her programs mixed longer, serious works with her own transcriptions of songs, spirituals and folk tunes. Powell asked audiences to send postcards listing selections from her best-selling records they would like to hear at her so-called "record'' concert at Carnegie Hall; Pine keeps in touch with her audience via a Web site, podcasts, a blog and

After the 52-year-old Powell died in 1920 of a heart attack, three factors led to her virtual disappearance from the music history books, according to Pine. Recording technology was primitive in the early 1900s, so her recorded legacy is mainly short pieces, relatively trivial works compared with the concertos and sonatas that the next generation of violinists such as Heifetz was able to record. (A few years ago Naxos collected and re-issued all of Powell's existing recordings in four CDs as part of the label's Historical Series of Great Violinists.) Powell wasn't a composer herself, and she traveled too much to pass on a legacy of instruction to generations of star pupils.

Now living with her husband in downtown Chicago, Pine is reveling in her Billboard debut and making plans for upcoming projects. … Her performing schedule is full, and last month's appearances ranged from the Boston Early Music Festival to Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Camp in Burns, Tenn. She is happily mulling a set of commissions that would combine two of her greatest passions: solo acoustic violin and heavy metal music.

"Heavy metal has been around for 30 years now,'' said Pine. "Classical music through the centuries has drawn on the popular music of its time, Bartok using folk music, Ravel using jazz. Wouldn't it be amazing to commission some classical composers who either grew up listening to heavy metal or played guitar to write pieces for the violin that purposely use heavy metal as one more tool in a composer's tool box?''

From Bilbo Prattle
Posted on September 20, 2007 at 12:41 PM
"With this ensemble, I play a 1770 violin by Nicola Gagliano in original, unaltered condition."

Very cool! And all gut I assume. But what about the G string. Do you use a wound G?

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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