TCPalm: Violinist Hilary Hahn to perform

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It was lucky geography that got violinist Hilary Hahn started on her soaring career.


"There was a music school in my neighborhood that gave violin lessons to 4-year-olds, so I just did it," Hahn said during a telephone interview, speaking from a Madison, Wis., hotel room.


Hahn's list of accomplishments would fill an entire newspaper page, but here's the short version: She's 31, has won two Grammy Awards, played 1,265 concerts in 272 cities in 41 countries on four continents. Studying violin since age 4, Hahn made her first major orchestra appearance at 12 and her international debut in Hungary at 14.


She doesn't remember what it felt like the first time she picked up a violin. But she does remember thinking that "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," one of the first songs she learned, was ridiculously long.


Hahn, who lives in New York City, is on the road these days about 10 months a year.


"The trick to being on the road is taking care of yourself," Hahn said. "Once you learn how to do it, it's not that hard."


She used to take her pet mouse Mars with her for company, but gave that up when she learned that if he escaped, he might eat into an airplane's wires. Now, she takes a collection of cooking essentials — a mini-blender for making smoothies, a colander, a flexible cutting board, a knife and a rice cooker.


"The biggest challenge (of touring) is trying to keep your bearings," Hahn said. "There's no routine and no constancy with sleep or eating. I travel with cookware and make my own meals, so that I can eat like I would if I were home."


On those rare weeks when she is home, Hahn likes watching movies, taking walks, learning new things and working on projects.


"I never go more than a few days without practicing because it's like a sport," Hahn said. "You have to train. If you don't, your muscles start to weaken, playing gets more difficult and you increase the chances you can get hurt."


Hahn said she's looking forward to returning to Stuart, where she has performed many times.


"What I like about Stuart is the combination of a small town with residents who come from so many places," Hahn said. "It will be great to see the audience again that I've been seeing for a long time."