Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn will visit Princeton today, performing in McCarter Theater as part of a college tour. At age 25, Hahn is one of the best-known classical musicians and has played in nearly every major concert hall worldwide.
Hahn began playing the violin shortly before her fourth birthday and gave her first major concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at age 12. Truly a child prodigy, Hahn enrolled at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music at age 10 and never attended college.
Despite an unconventional youth, Hahn does not believe she missed out on anything. While she may not be aware of the Princeton experience, her time at summer camps did allow her to socialize within her age group.
"I went to regular summer camps and language immersion camps so I feel I've gotten all the same experiences," she said.
Now, with her busy schedule, she still enjoys being involved in summer music festivals and makes a point of keeping her schedule open during the summer months.
Despite what many critics say about the lack of young interest in classical music, Hahn describes her audience as having a "good range."
"I see a lot of different types of people at my concerts. I've seen about half students at my recent concerts." Indeed, Hahn describes classical music as "becoming a cool underground art."
"[Classical music] used to be mainstream and then people wanted underground like rock and pop. Now that those are mainstream, classical music is the underground," she said.
While she is most versed in classical music, Hahn enjoys all genres and respects the opinions of others. "It doesn't make you any less of a listener to dislike things that other people like or vice versa," she said.
Hahn's abilities do not end with music. At Curtis, she completed the graduation requirements by age 16 but decided to defer graduation until age 19 to take extra classes in languages and literature.
As a touring artist, she recognizes the value in languages.
"[It] is very useful," she said. "I was able to use the German during interviews in German and French — French can help you all over. The Japanese is also very useful because in Japan they don't want to embarrass themselves with improper English."
Hahn has a plethora of interests, including animals and rowing. She maintains a personal journal and writes small personal news stories for her website. She explained that her passion is for "music, writing and everything creative."
On a concert circuit with many other skilled musicians, it is often hard for an artist to differentiate herself. Hahn does so remarkably well, though she denies any conscious effort to do so.
"You can't just do things to be different. I just try to focus on the music — and that's the reason I'm doing it. You should do things for quality not show."
For her current tour, Hahn said she "wanted to do a ground tour, more in the style of the old players who traveled by train and boat." Hahn, in rock star style, has been traveling across the United States in a tour bus rather than by plane.
Hahn performed on Nov. 13 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York on Nov. 17. Her repertoire for her Princeton concert will include sonatas by Ysaye, Mozart, Enescu and Beethoven.
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