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World-renowned violinist to perform free concert in Elyria
Cindy Leise October 9th, 2012, The Chronicle-Telegram

ELYRIA — She’s been called “an exciting, boundary-defying performer” by The Washington Post, and she’s coming to Elyria.

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform with CityMusic Cleveland at five churches this month, culminating in a performance 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at St. Mary Church.

The audience should immediately recognize Bruch’s Violin Concerto, which will be performed here.

“It has so many lush and soaring melodies — it’s very powerful,” Pine said. “The last movement is full of fire and intensity.”

If anyone can ignite an audience, it is Pine, who moonlights with a heavy metal band.

She rose from modest circumstances in Chicago to become a major breadwinner for her family at age 14, performing at weddings and other events.

At age 17, she won the gold medal at the 1992 J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany — the first American and youngest person to win the prize.

Fate intervened in 1995 when the straps of her violin case were caught in the doors of a Metra Rail commuter train, dragging her for hundreds of feet.

She lost her left leg and has undergone surgery after surgery to regain use of her right leg — a fact of life that she says she does not dwell on.

“Everybody has challenges that they work through,” she said. “The way I want to be known to young people is through hard work and achievement.”

Pine, 37, prefers talking about her adoration of the violin — and her anticipation of taking part in the CityMusic concerts, which are free and held in churches to draw new fans to classical music.

“They’re going into the community and having a really forward-thinking idea of what it means to be an orchestra,” she said in a telephone interview Monday from her home in Chicago.

Pine said her own goal is to be an ambassador for music — and a bridge between the classical and heavy metal genres.

In 2009, she acquired a custom-made extended range flying V electric violin and formed the six-piece heavy metal band Earthen Grave, which recently released a critically acclaimed five-song EP called Dismal Times.

The novelty of a performer who can perform in both genres makes for some fun radio interviews and an opportunity to draw new fans to classical music, she said.

But she said her persona on stage is certainly different for both types of music.

“You won’t see me head-banging to the orchestra,” she said with a laugh.

There is a surprising number of heavy metal artists who are inspired by classical music, she said.

“The drummer for Slayer (Dave Lombardo) showed me his iPod, which had Rachmaninoff, Berlioz and Liszt on it,” she said.

Pine remembers her own excitement at the age of 3 when she saw some middle school girls play the violin.

After taking violin lessons in the neighborhood, her passion became her life.

“I was self-identifying not as someone who plays violin, but as a violinist,” she said.

Her skill and drive — she was home-schooled and practiced eight hours a day — led to later opportunities to study with top masters.

It is gratitude for those opportunities that led to creation of Pine’s Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, which assists young artists through projects such as the Instrument Loan Program, Grants for Education and Career, Global HeartStrings (supporting classical musicians in developing countries), and a curricular series developed in conjunction with the University of Michigan: The String Student’s Library of Music by Black Composers.

She is a life trustee of the Music Institute of Chicago, which named the “Rachel Barton Pine Violin Chair” in her honor.

She is performing in the 2011-12 season with Brazil’s Orquestra Filarmonica de Minas Gerais, Poland’s Beethoven Academy Orchestra, the Calgary and Las Vegas Philharmonics, and the Columbus and Tallahassee Symphonies among others.

She is releasing four CDs and is playing the complete — and extremely challenging — Paganini 24 Caprices in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.

On a personal level, Pine said she is grateful for plenty of support. She travels with her husband, Greg, a computer consultant who was once a minor league baseball pitcher, and their baby daughter, Sylvia.

“Sylvia has been touring with me since she was 3 weeks old and already she has nine stamps in her passport,” Pine said.

The performance with CityMusic Cleveland will be led by Ryan McAdams, the first recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award. He was the music director of the prestigious New York Youth Symphony, whose former music directors include Leonard Slatkin, David Alan Miller and Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

While in the Cleveland area, Pine also plans to perform with Earthen Grave at a time and location to be announced.