Hilary Hahn & Valentina Lisitsa

Biography Hilary Hahn & Valentina Lisitsa

Hilary Hahn
In the two decades since her professional debut, two-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn has brought her virtuosity, expansive interpretations, and creative repertoire choices to diverse global audiences.

A Baltimore native, Hahn will open the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-2015 season with Beethoven and go on to perform with the New York Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, and San Diego Symphony. She will return to Bach concerti in a series with the Cleveland Orchestra and will perform other favorites by Bruch and Korngold throughout the season. Hahn will tour Luxembourg, the Nether-lands, and Germany with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra; in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, she will perform Brahms with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Over an extensive spring tour, Hahn will continue her longtime collaborations with colleagues Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Leonard Slatkin and the DSO Berlin, and pianist Natalie Zhu; appear with the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra, and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; and embark on a recital tour through Asia, Europe, and the United States. The season will see the release of Hahn’s next orchestral disc: Mozart’s 5th and Vieuxtemps’s 4th violin concertos with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.

Hahn began recording at the age of 16. She has released 15 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, while her 2012 album, Silfra, captured her collaboration with experimental prepared-piano expert Hauschka. The record was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson and was entirely improvised by the two performers after an intensive period of preparation. In 2013, Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe, who will join her in recital this season, released In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. The recording was 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.

Hilary 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 continue her violin studies and take additional 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.

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, posting journal entries and articles on her website, hilaryhahn.com. Additionally, she produces a YouTube channel, youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos, where she frequently interviews guests from around the world. 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.

Valentina Lisitsa
is not only the first «YouTube star» of classical music; more importantly, she is the first classical artist to have converted her internet success into a global concert career in the principal venues of Europe, the USA, South America and Asia.

Washington Post Online wrote: “It’s striking that her playing is relatively straightforward. ‘Straightforward’ is an inadequate term for virtuosity. She does not tart the music up. She does not seek to create a persona, much less impose one on what she is playing. She offers readings that are, when you penetrate through the satin curtains of the soft playing and the thunder of the loud playing, fundamentally honest and direct. You feel you’re getting a strong performer but also a sense of what the piece is like rather than of how Lisitsa plays it. I was impressed, sometimes dazzled and sometimes even taken aback by the ferocity of her fortissimos. And she is also a delicate, sensitive, fluid player who can ripple gently over the keys with the unctuous smoothness of oil.”

The Ukraine-born artist began her musical education in her native city of Kiev at the Lysenko Music School for highly talented children and continued it at the Conservatoire in the city. Not confining herself to the musical world, she also dreamed of a career as a professional chess player. After immigrating to the USA, Valentina launched herself as a piano-duet partner alongside her husband. Several competition successes and the consequent concert engagements marked the start of her life as a concert artist. Soon, however, Valentina Lisitsa looked for new ways of enlarging her audience. Her exceptional sense of new developments and her openness to unconventional approaches proved vital. She posted her first video on the internet platform YouTube in 2007, a recording of the Etude op. 39/6 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. In a broadcast interview, she said: “My first YouTube clip was a lo-fi VHS recording on an awful school piano, and my hands were out of sync with the sound. But even so, my message came across to people. Straight away they started telling me that my interpretations meant something to them, that they changed things, that they stood out.” The views increased staggeringly; more videos followed. The foundation stone of a social-network career unparalleled in the history of classical music was laid. Her YouTube channel now records 346.000 subscribers and 147 million views with an average 75000 views per day.

During the season 2017-2018 Valentina will be on tour with the Russian State Philharmonic in Great Britain with concerts in London, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Warwick and plays recitals during a South America Tour in Buenos Aires, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro. She is invited to numerous festivals such as Palermo Classica Festival, Festival der Stille, Festival Savoy Truffle in Megève and will make her debuts in Singapore and China. Moreover, Valentina will appear in the USA, Korea, South Africa, Spain, France, Germany and Belgium. A Special highlight of the upcoming season will be a concert in honor of the King of Taipei.

Highlights of the past seasons were amongst others a sold out concert at Auditorio Nacional with the Spanish National Orchestra, where Valentina played all piano concerts as well as the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergej Rachmaninoff in one evening. With this more or less historical event Valentina managed to captivate her audience until the very end as one could also read in the press: “Lisitsa, with an unstoppable natural strength, evolved a charming musicality and a staggering virtuosity on the beautiful Bösendorfer, complemented by a fascinating physical endurance. Every single one of those five masterpieces alone already leaves most of the grand pianists breathless; to play all of them together in one evening is simply impossible for the most.”

In 2010, Valentina Lisitsa played the Dutch premiere of the newly arranged Piano Concerto No. 5 (based on the Second Symphony) by Sergei Rachmaninoff with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In 2011, she debuted with the Orchestra Sinfonica Brasileira under the baton of Lorin Maazel, having previously played with such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Seoul Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Pittsburgh Symphony. A spectacular recital in London’s Royal Albert Hall before an audience of 8000 in June 2012 set the seal on her international breakthrough. Listeners had the chance to vote online in advance for their preferred programme – a form of audience participation that has become one of Valentina Lisitsa’s “trade marks”. The major label DECCA gave Lisitsa an exclusive artist contract, releasing the live recording of the RAH concert only one month later on CD and DVD. In February 2013, Valentina Lisitsa made her debut in the large auditorium of the Berlin Philharmonie and she also appeared at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall London. In 2014 she performed with Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Järvi, with Staatskapelle Dresden at Semperoper, in London’s Wigmore Hall, at Prinzregententheater Munich and with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in Vienna and Istanbul. Recent highlights were performances with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Orchestre National de Radio France, Strasbourg Philarmonic, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Norrköpings Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, and Prague Symphony Orchestra.

Valentina Lisitsa has collaborated with renowned conductors such as Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi, Vasily Petrenko, Manfred Honeck, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Dmitrij Kitajenko, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Michael Francis, Thomas Sanderling, and Lorin Maazel among others.

Furthermore she is a welcome guest at many famous music festivals. The highlights include her performances at Bristol Proms, Tivoli Festival, Zaubersee Festival Lucerne, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Heidelberger Frühling, Rheingau Music Festival, Nordlysfestivalen Tromsø, Ankara Piano Festival, Cartagena, and Ravello Music Festivals in Italy.

Valentina Lisitsa records exclusively for Decca Classics. Her discography contains amongst others recordings of every piano concert by Sergei Rachmaninoff, works by Chopin, Philipp Glass, Liszt and Scriabin as well as her latest CD «Love Story – Piano Themes from the Cinema’s Golden Age» with major film music from the 1920s.

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