Meet the Players: Hilary Hahn

Does your instrument case tweet? Our String Player of the Week has a very active violin case that posts social media updates from around the world! Hilary Hahn is only 38 years old but as of this writing has played 1594 concerts. She has also won three Grammy awards and she regularly performs with major orchestras.

Hilary Hahn began playing the violin shortly before her fourth birthday. Starting in a Suzuki program in Baltimore, Maryland, the young Hilary Hahn started on a “box violin” (a cardboard box with a ruler taped to it). By age 11, she was soloing with major orchestras. In the popular imagination, child prodigies and superstar players are often depicted as antisocial, totally absorbed in their art and unable to identify with regular people. However, Hahn bucks the stereotypes. She has appeared on Sesame Street and Mister Rogers Neighborhood and you can follow her violin case on Instagram and Twitter! In fact, through social media, Hahn recorded herself daily practicing for 100 days in a row under the #100Days hashtag.

Although performing and recording keeps Hahn very busy, she has made time to pursue other interests, attending summer language immersion programs at the Middlebury Institute in German, French, and Japanese. Even for an accomplished concert violinist, there is always more to learn.

 

Hilary Hahn, violinabout_bioHI2

Born: Lexington, Virginia, USA, 1979

Website

Recordings

YouTube

 

 

“Things get in the way. You do your best as an artist regardless of the circumstances and you just keep moving forward.” – Hilary Hahn

 

Watch Hilary Hahn play on NPR’s “Tiny Desk” Concert Series

Fun Fact: Hilary Hahn plays on an 1864 violin which was copied after Paganini’s violin.

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Meet The Players: Roberto Diaz

And the GRAMMY goes to… a viola concerto! Last night’s GRAMMY awards for best contemporary classical composition went to Jennifer Higdon’s “Viola Concerto”, played by Roberto Diaz. You can learn more about Higdon’s wonderful new music here, but since this blog is about the viola, let’s talk more about the viola player who recorded Higdon’s viola concerto.

This is not Roberto Diaz’ first trip to the GRAMMYs. His 2006 recording of viola transcriptions by William Primrose previously earned him a nomination. In addition to performing and recording, he is the current dean of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he also teaches viola.

Born in Santiago, Chile, Diaz moved to the US with his family in 1966. In addition to teaching at Curtis, he has served as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, principal viola of National Symphony Orchestra, and section player of the Boston Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras.

 

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Roberto Diaz, viola

Born: Santiago, Chile, 1966

Lives in: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Website

Recordings

Watch on YouTube

“As musicians, we never feel that we stop learning.” – Roberto Diaz

Watch Roberto Diaz perform the Walton Viola Concerto

Fun Fact: One of three siblings born to musical parents, Roberto Diaz often plays in the Diaz String Trio, alongside one of his brothers.