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The Astonishing Rachel Barton Pine

January 12, 2013

San Francisco Classical Voice | by D. Kern Holoman

Her swath is, to use campus parlance, awesome. The “astonishing” violinist Rachel Barton Pine of Chicago is precisely that, and so consistently alive as to be fatiguing. Blink and you may miss something as she forays into her next recording or composer or community love affair.

In Sacramento on Saturday she had pretty much everything going for her: the arresting presence onstage and off, a serious fan base after local appearances in 2010 (William Grant Still) and 2012 (all five Mozart concertos at the Mondavi Center in Davis), the cachet of what Wikipedia calls her “thrash/doom” metal band (Earthen Grave), and a darling little girl who sat with her to sign CDs well into the night — to say nothing of an emerald gown with sparkles that was pure Swan of Tuonela. And, of course, a life story made famous in the Chicago Tribune. She’s been pals with the conductor Michael Morgan since her stint as concertmaster of the Chicago Civic Orchestra in her teens.

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