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Hilary Hahn

Friday, August 26, 2016


My Classical Notes

August 24

Great Orchestral Accompaniment

My Classical Notes Egos often get in the way of making great music. Yesterday I saw an example where the music got priority, and egos did not play a role. As a result the listener received the benefit. I heard a performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, as performed by violinist Hilary Hahn. What a wonderful performance that was! One major reason for my enjoyment was that Ms. Hahn played certain sections at a slightly slower tempo, and this provided a wonderful level of intimacy to music that has been performed so often. A key factor that drove this success was the conductor. He let the soloist decide on the tempo, and he provided the expert leadership to have the orchestra support the soloist as she unfolded this wonderful music for us. Here is Ms. Hahn in this amazing presentation:

My Classical Notes

July 31

August 28, Hilary Hahn Concert in Vienna

Wish I could attend. Here are the details: Violinist Hilary Hahn performs in Vienna. Date: Sunday, 28 August 2016 Venue: Schloss Grafenegg (Castle Grafenegg, near Vienna) Bus transfers operate from Vienna to take concertgoers to and from each of the festival concerts. Departure ist from the Musikverein. Program: Janacek: Cunning Little Vixen Suite Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 Hilary Hahn, with the Czech Philharmonic orchestra




The Well-Tempered Ear

May 14

Classical music education: Suzuki Strings of Madison performs a FREE 25th anniversary spring concert this Sunday afternoon.

By Jacob Stockinger The Ear has received the following note of public interest about an event that deserves widespread support: Suzuki Strings of Madison (below) will presents its 25th anniversary spring concert at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday, May 15. Suzuki students served as the pre-concert “warm-up band” for violinist Hilary Hahn at her recent recital at the Wisconsin Union Theater . Hahn, herself a Suzuki alumna, credited the method with her early start on her career. The concert will take place at the Middleton Performing Arts Center (below), 2100 Bristol Street, which is attached to Middleton High School . The concert is open to the public FREE of charge and will feature violin students from three years of age through Sonora , the teenage touring ensemble. The music will include selections from the Suzuki repertoire as well as several classical ensemble pieces. ALL FORMER SUZUKI STRINGS OF MADISON STUDENTS ARE INVITED TO JOIN ON STAGE TO PLAY IN THE CONCERT. Everyone is invited to a reception after the concert. Suzuki Strings of Madison has been providing complete, quality music education through the Suzuki Method to children in the Madison area for 25 years. The program offers private lessons, music reading and theory training, a mixed string ensemble and two touring ensembles. The Suzuki approach deals with much more than teaching a child how to play an instrument. It seeks to develop the whole child, to help unfold his or her natural potential to learn, and to find the joy that comes through making music. (The Suzuki Method is explained in the YouTube video at the bottom.) For more information visit www.suzukistringsofmadison.org . Tagged: Arts , band , Baroque , Cello , Chamber music , Classical music , Concert , Hilary Hahn , Johann Sebastian Bach , Madison , method , Middleton , Middleton High School , Middleton Performing Arts Center , Mozart , Music , Music education , Orchestra , recital , repertoire , strings , Suzuki , Suzuki Method , Suzuki Strings of Madison , symphony , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Viola , Violin , Wisconsin Union Theater , YouTube

The Well-Tempered Ear

April 20

Classical music: Mixing old and new music. Violinist Hilary Hahn talks about the works she commissioned and will play alongside classics when she performs Sunday night at the Wisconsin Union Theater

By Jacob Stockinger There are many great violinists playing today. But arguably the most important and innovative is 36-year-old Hilary Hahn (below), the thoughtful virtuoso who returns to perform a MUST-HEAR recital in Shannon Hall of the Wisconsin Union Theater at 7:30 p.m. this coming Sunday night. The last two recitals there by Hahn were two of the most memorable live chamber music performances The Ear has ever heard. Tickets are $27.50 to $50.50. UW-Madison students are $10. Here is a link to information about tickets, the program and audio samples: http://uniontheater.wisc.edu/Season15-16/hilary-hahn.html During her 20-year career, Hahn – who often mixes the old and new both in live performances and on recordings — has consistently turned in astounding performances the violin repertoire, including classics. Those works include concertos and sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven , Felix Mendelssohn, Niccolo Paganini, Johannes Brahms, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky , Charles Ives, Jean Sibelius, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Samuel Barber, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein and others. But she also frequently commissions and adds new works to the repertoire, including a concerto by Edgar Meyer and a Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto by Jennifer Higdon, who teaches composition at the Curtis Institute of music where Hahn studied. Plus, she is a talented and charming “postcard” blogger and interviewer. Both sides of Hilary Hahn’s artistry – the classic and the contemporary — will be on display during her Madison recital. The very busy Hahn (below, in a photo by Peter Miller) recently agreed to do an email Q&A with The Ear: You have long been known as an innovative artist. What are your new and upcoming projects, including recordings and commissions? I’m in the middle of a 14-month-long artist residency at the Vienna Konzerthaus . It’s my first such experience, so I feel like a kid in a candy store, getting to try out ideas sequentially that I would otherwise have to stretch over several years. I’m excited to include among my residency performing as soloist with five different orchestras in the same hall, as well as giving a recital there and developing local initiatives to bring the community and classical music even closer together. Next year, I will be in residence in Seattle and Lyon. It’s been fun seeing what residency activities I want to carry over and what I can add that is specific to each city. As far as commissions go, over this season and next, I’m world-premiering and touring a significant new contribution to the solo violin repertoire, Six Partitas by Antón García Abril (below), written for me. That is a meaningful project for me, because I sensed that Mr. García Abril would write a fantastic set of pieces if I could convince him to take on the assignment. He decided to do it and the music turned out to be more wonderful and inspiring to play than I could have imagined. It feels like those phrases breathe with me and the notes fit in my hands. In addition, I am in the process of wrapping up the original trajectory of my project, In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. After some concerts on this upcoming tour, as encores, my recital partner Cory Smythe and I will be giving world premieres of the Honorable Mentions from my Encores contest. Finally, in the fall, the complete edition of the sheet music for all 27 original works will be published as a single edition, with my fingerings, bowings and performance notes. Is there an underlying unity or purpose to your program of works by Mozart , Bach, García Abril, Copland and Davidson? I hope the listeners will find their own versions of unity and purpose in the program. The pieces weren’t assembled randomly, but then again, everyone listens differently. García Abril’s Six Partitas, of which I will play No. 1, entitled “Heart,” are solo polyphonic works. The violin alone carries multiple melodic lines, as well as providing its own harmonies. Johann Sebastian Bach (below top) wrote his polyphonic Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin in 1720. I felt it was important to carry forward this particular type of composition into the present day, so I commissioned Mr. García Abril (below bottom, in a photo by Julio Ficha) to create this set of works. (You can hear Hilary Hahn interview Anton Garcia Abril in a YouTube video at the bottom.) His writing for violin is compelling, fluid, emotional, clever and expressively rich in a way that I felt needed to be explored further. Especially as this is the premiere tour of his Partita No. 1, I wanted to juxtapose the new work with one of Bach’s, namely the Third Sonata with its complex and multifaceted fugue. As for the duo pieces on the program, the compositional styles — though they span 250 years — have a certain openness in common: the writing is not densely layered, leaving lots of room for imagination. What about the works by Mozart and Copland? Mozart’s set of sonatas for keyboard and violin is one of the most extensive for this instrumentation, and since I was a student, I’ve been adding at least one to my repertoire annually. It’s wonderful to explore such a prolific composer’s work over a long stretch of time. This particular sonata vacillates between stormy drama, lyricism, and playfulness. The piece by Aaron Copland (below) is gorgeous, revealing. In this sonata, Copland’s musical language is clearly recognizable, but the texture is more sparse than in his famous larger-ensemble works, making it boldly direct and engrossing to listen to. And the music by Tina Davidson ? The work by Tina Davidson (below) follows on the tonality of the Copland, but the composer’s treatment of the music goes in an entirely different direction. “Blue Curve of the Earth” was written in Wyoming during an artist residency, and was inspired by a photo of the edge of the Earth from space. The music is dreamy yet dimensional, angular yet lush. “Blue Curve of the Earth” is from the Encores project. What would you like the public to know about composers Antón García Abril and Tina Davidson and their violin music or music in general? I like to picture where pieces were written; the surroundings can add another dimension to the music. Environment influences the creative process. The studio is the private stage. Antón works in a studio outside of Madrid that his son, the architect by the same name, designed for him. Tina is based out of a refashioned church in Pennsylvania, with vaulted ceilings and a garden. Both write beautifully for voice. Since violin can be a lyrical instrument and is tonally varied, capable of both sustaining and articulating, the ability to write expressively for voice transfers to the violin. Also, I have the impression that both composers start from a strong conceptual point with their works. When I play their music, the big line is the first thing that jumps out at me; the myriad fine details support the gestures. If you play an encore or two, will they be from the ones you commissioned a couple of years ago and won a Grammy for? That’s the plan! I feel very close to those pieces. Great encores exist from previous centuries, too; I never rule out the classics. Why did you commission 27 short encores? I began to notice that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinist’s education and repertoire, and I believed that potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. How successful have they been with the public and with other artists? The public embraced the project. The music contained within the Encores is varied and imaginative. Each composer had a different concept of what an encore can add to today’s musical landscape. I think every listener can find at least one work that is particularly poignant. I want the audience to discover these pieces for themselves. It is thrilling to listen to music that you have never heard before and, uninfluenced by other people’s opinions, be free to feel your own response. This project is something I’ve been working on for a long time; I would estimate that my direct involvement in all of the different parts will wind up having a 15-year arc. What I have learned on musical and creative levels from working with the composers will stay with me for my whole career, and the logistical lessons from organizing such a big project will influence my future work. Most importantly, I hope the Encores themselves will continue in the active repertoire beyond my lifetime. That will be up to other performers, of course. You have played here several times, both concertos and solo recitals. Is there anything you would like to say about performing in Madison and about Madison audiences? I really enjoy Madison itself. It’s in a beautiful part of the country. I’ll never forget the first time I visited, in the winter, when the city was covered by snow and one of the sidewalks featured a table topped by a tower of knit hats and sweaters. As for the Madison audience, their curiosity and involvement are energizing. Is there anything else you would like to say? Hello, everyone! Tagged: Aaron Copland , Anton Garcia Abril , architect , architecture , Arnold Schoenberg , Arts , Austria , Bach , Baroque , Beethoven , bowing , Brahms , Chamber music , Charles Ives , church , Classical music , classics , Compact Disc , concerto , Cory Smythe , counterpoint , Curtis Institute of Music , Dmitri Shostkovich , drama , dramatic , Earth , Edgar Meter , Elgar , emotion , encore , fingering , fugue , Hilary Hahn , Igor Stravinsky , interview , Jacob Stockinger , Jennifer Higdon , Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , Keyboard , Konzerthaus , Leonard Bernstein , Ludwig van Beethoven , Lyon , lyrical , lyricism , Madison , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Madrid , melody , Mendelssohn , Mozart , Music , notes , Orchestra , Paganini , partita , Pennsylvania , performance , photo , photograph , Piano , polyphonic , polyphony , Pulitzer Prize , recording , repertoire , residency , Samuel Barber , Seattle , Sergei Prokofiev , Sibelius , Sonata , space , Tchaikovsky , Tina Davidson , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , vaughan williams , Vienna , Violin , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Union Theater , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Wyoming , YouTube



The Glass

March 22

Film Review: David Donnelly’s ’Maestro’

Maestro Endeavor Pictures Writer/Director: David Donnelly Producers: Ford D’Aprix David Donnelly 58 Mins. (DVD/Broadcast version) Maestro is a documentary on the Estonian-American orchestral conductor Paavo Jarvi, and it gives not only a brief but brilliant glimpse into Paavo’s life and career, but also an honest point of view on music (classical music, to be specific) and it’s role in our lives. The film features Jarvi himself in interviews and various pieces of footage throughout the years, as well as interviews with many of his colleagues in the concert world such as Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell and several others. Watching this, it appears that the direction for the film was not to just delve into the life of one person only, but to transcend this and make it more about why the music we call ‘classical music’ exists, what makes it so special, why we need it, and what it means for the other musicians as well. David Donnelly did a marvelous job with the combination of interviews, archival as well as newly-shot footage, and a lushly-mastered soundtrack of the orchestral music that Paavo Jarvi is known for. You will no doubt enjoy Maestro if you are a music buff, and it is great for the interviews as well as the music. There’s even a brief archival clip of hip-hop artist 50 Cent talking about his son getting classical training, which is pleasantly surprising. Before the film’s official US release, the makers of the film have a special goal–The plan is to get Maestro screening in 1,000 schools in 30 days by allowing individuals to sponsor educational DVDs. Bringing classical music to a school of their choice for the price of a pair of sneakers. The DVDs are available through this link. The information is on the page. It can impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of students who have never been exposed to classical music, and help to make a big difference for the future of music education. Thanks from everyone involved. Maestro (official website) Link for purchasing DVDs and Blu-rays

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn (November 27, 1979) is an American violinist. Beginning her studies when she was three years old, she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at age ten, and in 1991, made her major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Hahn signed her first musical recording contract at age sixteen. She graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Music degree.



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