Three-time Grammy® Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn melds expressive musicality and technical expertise with a diverse repertoire guided by artistic curiosity. Her barrier-breaking attitude towards classical music and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. Hahn is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works, and her 21 feature recordings have received every critical prize in the international press.
As Virtual Artist-in-Residence with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Hahn performed three programs this season, including the world premiere of her newly composed cadenza to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. Hahn went on to perform the concerto with the Houston and Dallas Symphony Orchestras; in Dallas, she also delivered the keynote speech of the Second Annual Women in Classical Music Symposium. Hahn has also taken time this season to perform the Dvořák Violin Concerto, appearing with both the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
In March 2021, Deutsche Grammophon released Hahn’s 21st album, Paris, recorded with Mikko Franck and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Paris features the world premiere recording of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Two Serenades, a piece written for Hahn and completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho, which Hahn premiered in 2019. The album also includes performances of Ernest Chausson’s Poème and Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, a long-time signature piece of Hahn's.
A strong advocate for new music, Hahn has championed and commissioned works by a diverse array of contemporary composers. In the 2018-19 season, before her season-long sabbatical in 2019-20, she premiered two new works written for her: Two Serenades, and Lera Auerbach’s Sonata No. 4: Fractured Dreams. The season was bookended by another major release: her most recent solo commission, 6 Partitas by the late Antón García Abril. García Abril, Auerbach, and Rautavaara had been contributing composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn’s Grammy® Award-winning multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre.
Hahn has related to her fans naturally from the very beginning of her career. She has committed to signings after nearly every concert and maintains and shares a collection of the fan art she has received over the course of 20 years. An avid and early blogger, Hahn hosts on her website a variety of original writing dating back to 2002. Her “Postcards from the Road” feature, a series of personal updates from her travels around the world, evolved from an initial year-long postcard project that she began with a classroom of third-graders. Her Bring Your Own Baby concerts, developed over recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, create opportunities for parents of infants to share their enjoyment of live classical music with their children in a nurturing, welcoming environment. Always free and offered on an infant-friendly schedule, they build on Hahn’s history of performances in unconventional venues such as community dance workshops, yoga studios, and knitting circles.
Hahn’s commitment to her fans extends to a long history of educational initiatives. A former Suzuki student, she released new recordings of the first three books of the Suzuki Violin School in 2020, in partnership with the International Suzuki Association and Alfred Music. The recordings also appear on the teaching platform SmartMusic. In 2019, she released a book of sheet music for her encores project, In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. The book includes her own fingerings and bowings, as well as performance notes for each of the commissioned works. That same year, she created a mini-video-masterclass series around 6 Partitas, and donated her $25,000 Glashütte Originals Festspielpreis to Project 440, a Philadelphia music- education nonprofit program that helps young people build essential life skills. Her Instagram-based practice initiative, #100daysofpractice, has helped to demystify the typically grueling and isolating practice process, transforming it into a community-oriented, social celebration of artistic development. Since creating the hashtag in 2017, Hahn has completed the project three times under her handle, @violincase; fellow performers and students have contributed nearly 500,000 posts under the hashtag.
Hahn is a prolific and celebrated recording artist whose twenty feature albums on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony have all opened in the top ten of the Billboard charts. In addition, she can be found on three DVDs, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Three of Hahn’s albums—her 2003 Brahms and Stravinsky concerto disc, a 2008 pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti, and her 2013 recording of In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores—have been awarded Grammys®. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which she recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2017, she released a fan-oriented retrospective collection that featured new live material recorded with classic direct-to-disc technology and showcased art from her fans. Hahn is the subject of two documentaries by filmmaker Benedict Mirow: Hilary Hahn – A Portrait, filmed in 2004, and Hilary Hahn – Evolution of an Artist, which chronicles the subsequent 16 years of her career.
Hahn has also participated in a number of non-classical productions. She was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has collaborated on 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. In 2012, Hahn launched Silfra, a free-improv project with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka, following an intensive period of development.
Hahn is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. In 2001, she was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. She also holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College—where she spent four summers in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese language programs—and Ball State University, where there are three scholarships in her name.
Image Copyright: Dana van Leeuwen