Meet the 2022 Chubb Scholar: Hilary Hahn

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Ilana Zaks

1:02 a.m., April 14, 2022

Collaborating journalist


Yale Daily News

Earlier this week, world-renowned violinist Hilary Hahn was welcomed to Yale as a 2022 Chubb Fellow.

The Chubb Scholarship is awarded by Timothy Dwight College and is one of the University’s highest honors for a visiting lecturer who encourages and assists students interested in government and public affairs. Hahn originally received the Chubb Fellowship in 2020, but her award was delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She now joins the ranks of Chubb alumni such as Wynton Marsalis, Steve Reich, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Elie Wiesel, George HW Bush and Shimon Peres.

“My first album at 16 in the 90s was [Johann Sebastian] Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, at a time when it was ‘taboo’ for an up-and-coming solo artist to release a Bach solo album when this repertoire is usually recorded in a more ‘mature’ part of an artist’s career” , Hahn said in the first part of his post-performance interview with Timothy Dwight College principal Mary Lui. “Now we see that more often, but I was the first to break that unspoken rule.”

Fittingly, the event began with Bach, as Hahn played the composer’s “Sarabande from Partita No. 2” in D minor. Bach was Hahn’s most performed repertoire, so she was confident in her ability to record her debut album. As it is a solo work, Hahn was able to record it in one year and three months. She said she learned a lot from the recording process, which made the process of producing her next albums much smoother.

Hahn is known for her masterful technique, balance, intonation, innovative recording projects, and her passion for advancing music education and the accessibility of classical music via social media.

The talk then focused on Hahn’s three award-winning albums: an album of concertos by Brahms and Stravinsky in 2003, a duet of concertos by Schoenberg and Sibelius in 2008, and his 2013 recording of “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. “.

“In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” is a project in which Hahn emailed 26 composers to write a piece for him, with the final piece being blindly selected in an open competition. She also interviewed each composer for her YouTube channel to complete their composition and released her own score which included comments and performance suggestions from the violinist and composers.

The project has received acclaim from composers, musicians and visual artists around the world, including Yale School of Music composer David Lang, with whom Hahn also collaborated on his latest world premiere alongside the technology of artificial intelligence created by roboticist and AI specialist Carol Reiley. To ensure more artists can get involved with AI, Hahn and Riley formed DeepMusic.Ai, an organization that aims to bring artificial intelligence and the arts closer together.

Another important project was the recording of the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto with the Liverpool Philharmonic. Hahn first met Higdon when she was a student at the Curtis School of Music, taking Higdon’s Survey of 20th Century Music course, which sparked her interest in contemporary music.

“We were encouraged to study a composer’s specific emotions and musical attributes and learn how to integrate and express them in our own interpretations of music,” Hahn said during the lecture. “The class taught me to see music from a new angle; interpreting every piece of music almost as if it were a premiere, regardless of when it was composed and examining every angle of the composer’s style, life and emotion and finding ways to communicate it as effectively as possible to the public.

Hahn’s efforts to make music more accessible to the public range from his contemporary music and commissioned projects that respond to conversations about social justice to his efforts to highlight the importance of music education through a recording of 2020 Suzuki Violin School album, Volumes 1-3 with long-running piano. collaborator Natalie Zhu.

Additionally, Hahn launched the hashtag “100daysofpractice” on his Instagram to inspire musicians of all skill levels to perform and share their experience of music making. According to Hahn, this initiative aims to inspire musicians to see the practice as a positive light “of exploring and improving one’s playing through patience in the process, rather than simply judging oneself from each point of view in the process. mirror and then to enter a great stage which also judges you.”

The conference ended with a question-and-answer session with the audience. Several students asked Hahn how they could engage in music outside of the professional pursuit as well as how to find joy in practicing despite criticism.

To learn more about Hilary Hahn, visit her website here.

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