Violinist Hilary Hahn’s probing interpretations, technical brilliance, and commitment to performing and commissioning new music have not only made her one of the most sought-after artists of our time, but also brought her love of classical music to a diverse audience. Still just 34 years old, her international fame and recognition, which include two Grammies and multiple awards such as the Diapason d’Or of the Year, the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik and the 2008 Classic FM / Gramophone Artist of the Year, are a testament to her talent and drive. Hahn last performed on the International Artist Series in 2004, and more recently on the eclectic new concert series, Schubert Club Mix, in January 2014. We are thrilled to welcome her back to the Ordway stage.
Hahn took her first lessons in the Suzuki program shortly before her fourth birthday. When she was five years old, she met Odessa native Klara Berkovich, with whom she studied until being admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of ten. There, Hahn was a pupil of Jascha Brodsky, who had trained with both the Franco-Belgian master Eugene Ysaÿe and the Russian pedagogue Efrem Zimbalist. She completed her university requirements at Curtis at 16, having already made her solo debuts with the Baltimore and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras, the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic. Hahn delayed graduation a few years in order to take further courses in languages, literature, and writing. By the time she received her Bachelor’s Degree at 19, she was a full-time touring musician. Hahn’s ever-evolving approach to music-making and her curiosity about the world have made her a fan favorite.
At the age of 16, Hahn embarked on her recording career. She has released 14 albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Encompassing a range of repertoire including Bach, Stravinsky, Elgar, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Schoenberg, Paganini, Spohr, Barber, Bernstein, Ives, Higdon, Tchaikovsky, and many others, her recordings have received every critical prize in the international press and have met with equal popular success. All have debuted in the top ten of the Billboard classical chart. Her distinct approach to music shows a remarkable ability to honor the traditional violin literature while expanding listeners’ horizons. A recording pairing the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti spent 23 weeks on the Billboard classical chart and also earned Hahn her second Grammy: the 2009 Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra. Her first Grammy win came in 2003 for her Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album. In 2010, she released Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto along with the Tchaikovsky concerto. Higdon’s piece, written for Hilary Hahn, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2011 Hahn recorded Charles Ives: Four Sonatas, bringing her lyrical sensibilities to the chamber music of one of America’s most innovative artists. Her most recent album, Silfra, captured her collaboration with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka. The record was produced by Valgeir Sigurðson and was entirely improvised by the two performers after an intensive period of preparation.
The 2013-14 season saw the release of Hahn’s long-awaited album, In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, with pianist Cory Smythe. This recording is the culmination of a multi-year project to renew the encore genre. Hahn commissioned 26 composers from around the world to write short-form works. For the 27th encore, she held an open contest that drew more than 400 entries. The international premiere tours, from 2011 to 2013, were met with wide critical and audience acclaim.
Hahn’s gregarious personality reaches out to students, new listeners, and anyone with an interest in music and the arts. She is an avid writer and interviewer, posting journal entries and articles on her website, hilaryhahn.com. Additionally, she produces a YouTube channel, youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos. Elsewhere, her violin case comments on life as a traveling companion, on Twitter and Instagram at @violincase. She has appeared on the covers of most major classical music publications and has been featured in mainstream periodicals such as Vogue, Elle, Town & Country, and Marie Claire. In 2001, Hahn was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine. In January 2010 she appeared as guest artist, playing Bartók and Brahms, on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. Hahn has participated in a number of non-classical musical productions, appearing in two records by the alt-rock band …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead; on the album Grand Forks by Tom Brosseau; and on tour with folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Ritter.
Pianist Cory Smythe engages a broad repertoire of new, classical, and improvised music. He has performed internationally, making appearances as soloist and chamber musician at the Darmstadt International Summer Festival for New Music, the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York City, the Green Mill jazz club in Chicago, and the Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center. In recent seasons, Smythe has enjoyed a recital partnership with violinist Hilary Hahn, with whom he has played in many concert halls throughout Europe, Japan, and the U.S.A., while also collaborating on the recording of In 27 Pieces, an album of Hahn’s diverse collection of commissioned encores. In a review of the duo’s recent performance at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Post praised Smythe for “…the ferocity and finesse of his technique.”
A core member of the new music group the International Contemporary Ensemble, Smythe has given numerous premiers, collaborated in the development of new works, and worked closely with composers Philippe Hurel, Dai Fujikura, Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, Mathias Pintscher, and Alvin Lucier among many others. This season will see the release of a recording by ICE featuring Smythe as the piano soloist in Iannis Xenakis’s ‘Palimpsest’. Smythe has also been a featured guest and soloist with many new music ensembles throughout the United States, including Milwaukee’s Present Music, the Boston-based Firebird Ensemble, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
As an improviser, Smythe has collaborated with a wide array of jazz and improvising artists, including Greg Osby, Tyshawn Sorey, Steve Lehman, Amy X Neuburg, Vijay Iyer, Peter Evans, and Anthony Braxton. His recent performance of Braxton’s evening-length Composition No. 30 was recorded and released on the composer’s New Braxton House label and described by The Wire magazine as “startling… gorgeously dense…” Smythe is currently preparing the release of a follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut album as improviser/composer,Pluripotent, which remains available for free download at corysmythe.bandcamp.com.
Smythe holds degrees in classical piano performance from the music schools at Indiana University and the University of Southern California, where he studied with Luba Edlina-Dubinsky and Dr. Stewart Gordon, respectively. He currently resides in New York City.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Concert length is estimated to be 2 hours with one intermission.
Join us at 6:45pm in the Marzitelli Foyer for a pre-concert talk hosted by David Evan Thomas.
Cage: Six Melodies
Lang: Light Moving
J.S. Bach: Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006
Debussy: Sonata in G minor L.140
Auerbach: Speak, Memory
Schumann: Sonata No. 1 in A minor Op. 105
Encore: Mark-Anthony Turnage: “Hilary’s Hoedown”
She started out as a prodigy of rare clarity and virtuosity and has developed into a daring, mature artist eager for new collaborations and repertory.The New York Times
Tradition and cutting edge, jaw-dropping technique and cerebral challenge combined to make an elegant house concert a heart-racing event.Star Ledger