Hilary Hahn

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A hectic day in the life of the US violinist

This morning’s rehearsal is open to invited patrons so I want to look snappy

My alarm clock chimes from across the room. It is 7.15 am. I force myself to my feet, make a smoothie and tussle with a dress that isn’t fitting right; this morning’s rehearsal in Los Angeles is open to invited patrons so I want to look snappy. On the way to Disney Hall commuter traffic keeps the orchestra car in gridlock. I do my make-up in the passenger seat and give my parents a call. I am here to perform Tchaikovsky with the Philharmonic and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Rehearsal goes well. Afterwards, I am interviewed on video for a music website.

Walking through the hotel lobby before lunch, I spot a woman who looks like she’s stepped off the set of Mad Men. She is either an actress or the restaurant hostess – or maybe, since this is Los Angeles, both. Back in my room, I open the windows. It’s November, but outside it could be summer. I cook and nap. A few hours before the concert, it’s time to gather my concert supplies: violin, clothes, hair and make-up paraphernalia, sewing kit, camera and snacks. While steaming my wrinkled gown, I listen to a recording of a concert from a few weeks ago. My phone beeps to alert me to more emails, but they will have to wait. I feel the pre-performance adrenaline start to kick in.

At 8.04pm, as I step on stage, a sonorous ‘bravo’ booms through the hall. Odd, I think, because I haven’t done anything yet! The Tchaikovsky is terrific fun with these musicians. After the concert ends, I go to the foyer to sign CDs and programmes. This was my first performance in the States since the US release of my Higdon/Tchaikovsky album. It’s neat to see those discs now; that project has come to completion.

When I get back to the hotel, a bouncer is in front of the entrance. He eyes me suspiciously, but I prove I’m a guest and he lets me in.  The private party I elbow my way through on the way to the elevators is cacophonous. In my room at midnight, I listen to the revellers from afar. A cup of tea steeps on the table in front of me. I am ready to sleep.  

Originally published in The Strad, February 2011. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.

Photo: Peter Miller

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