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Classical Sprouts: Meet Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel Barton Pine plays her violin

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine has been wowing audiences since her debut with the Chicago Symphony at just 10 years old.

Her work spans a huge spectrum of styles and composers - she's released more than 35 albums!

We talked to Pine to find out more about her music, collaborations with composers and advocacy in support of Black musicians.

One of Rachel Barton Pine's most recent collaborations was with composer Billy Childs.

Childs wrote his Violin Concerto No. 2 for her at the start of the pandemic.

With movement titles like "Romance/Rejoice," "Resilience" and "Remorse," Pine says the piece echoes many of the feelings Childs and the rest of the world were experiencing at the time.

"As you're listening to it and experiencing it, you're just really feeling the music, and I think that's the most successful music of any time - music that just speaks to your heart," Pine says.

She also says she finds the chance to work with living composers in real time invaluable.

"You can get your questions answered," she says. "I can't just text Beethoven and say, 'Wait, what did you mean by that articulation and measure 93?'"

Pine also runs a foundation that supports access to music education across the world and promotes music by Black composers.

Pine says her foundation has been working on its Music by Black Composers initiative for more than 21 years, and that part of its goal is to make sure this repertoire reaches kids' ears.

"Those children are going to grow up not just to be the performers on stage, but also arts administrators, board members and patrons of arts organizations, audience members, and they're not gonna want to retroactively go back to some narrow slice of the repertoire that's not as interesting as what they grew up with," she says.

Pine will soon re-release her album "Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th & 19th Centuries," which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023.

The album features music by composers like Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge Taylor, who Pine says weren't well-known when she initially released the album.

"When the record came out in 1997, people just had no idea that there were fabulous Black musicians, Black composers from the 17 and 1800s" she says.

"This is a generation that's finally going to have the opportunity to have Florence Price be their favorite composer."

Listen to this week's episode to hear more from Pine, including clips from her performances of works by Billy Childs, Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Hear more music from Rachel Barton Pine on Spotify!

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".