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Classical 101

Hilary Hahn Ventures Into (for her) a New Musical Language

If you've read anything about composers such as Mozart or Beethoven, you know that they were prodigious improvisors.  Can you imagine going to a performance to see what flowed from the fingers of young Wolfgang? If you read further, you'll see that

what we now categorize under the blanket term classical music and improvisation were inextricably linked...something which has become nearly non-existent in performances today.

In a conversation some years ago with Yo Yo Ma, he told a hilarious story of  his first performance with Bobby McFerrin.  He remembered McFerrin taking the music they had worked on and disposing of it as they were about to go onstage.  When McFerrin introduced his performance partner, Ma told the audience he was "terrified." Something similar happened recently to Hilary Hahn.  She said it was both terrifying and exhilarating. Read Concerto on the Fly: Can Classical Musicians Learn to Improvise? (Washington Post)

Violinist Announces 11 Winners in Search for New Encore Pieces

Another aspect of Hilary Hahn's still-young career is her quest to find new music to perform.  I have rarely met a musician content to keep recycling the standard repertoire, no matter how masterful it is.  All of us need new challenges, for our fingers as well as our ears. Beginning last season, Hahn began commissioning over two dozen composers to write short-form pieces for acoustic violin and piano.  Over 400 pieces were submitted.  Over a three month period, Hahn reviewed them all herself.

Because I was planning to play the commissioned pieces myself, it was important that the composers’ writing spoke to me in some way.

She announced the winner and 10 honorable mentions on June 15th.  She will record the winner's piece and plans to play all eleven during performances between now and 2015.  For each entry received, a donation was made to Dramatic Need, an international charity dedicated to bringing the creative arts to underprivileged children. Read In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores (HilaryHahn.com) Hilary interviews the winner here

 One Cello is a ‘Teacher,’ the Other is a ‘Playground’

When the mullet hairstyle was popular, it was often described as "business in the front, party in the back."  Same thing with wearing a tie and jacket with blue jeans...business on top, party on the bottom." Cellist Johannes Moser is searching for something similar in his music as he explores the past and future of the cello. Read Johannes Moser Goes in Search of Sound, Depth & Playfulness (allthingsstrings.com) Watch Johannes Moser play Schumann with the Berlin Philharmonic http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9c5oAhSmT34