When Rachel Barton Pine takes the stage, she wants the audience to experience all that the violin can do.
The Chicago native and world-renowned musician will perform to a sold-out crowd Feb. 16 in the Listening Room at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake.
She will present “24 Caprices” written by Niccoló Paganini, which she describes as “the cornerstone of the violin repertoire.”
With the 2014 Winter Olympics underway and having actually served as a 1996 torchbearer and performed during the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Pine compared her musical repertoire to the games.
“It goes far beyond the decathlon,” she said. “You have to do every single extreme sport that exists one after each other and have them all prepared. ... It showcases the technical range, but also the color of the violin’s voice.
“Especially for audience members who aren’t violinists themselves, it’s really to just show how the violin can express itself with so much variety.”
While her skills might seem intimidating, Pine always has sought to draw audiences in with not only her music, but also with her passion and the stories behind the pieces.
A fan of heavy metal, she often makes references to the rock guitarists she admires, such as Eddie Van Halen.
Pine’s ultimate mission is to bring classical music to as many people as possible, through her performances as well as her philanthropic causes. Her charity, the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, provides services and funding for classical music education, research, performances and artists.
“It’s important to show that classical music is not on a pedestal somewhere,” she said. “It’s great music, but it’s by regular people and for regular people and something everyone should have in their lives to enjoy. I didn’t grow up in some elite enclave.”
Nagging her parents for a violin, Pine began lessons at age 3½, just a year younger than her 2½-year-old daughter, Sylvia, who already has a “teeny, tiny violin” and tours with her mother as a “road warrior.”
Inspired by her daughter, Pine’s latest CDs, “Violin Lullabies,” features work by an eclectic range of well-known and obscure composers. It’s the first collection of lullabies by violin, she said.
Pine first performed with the Chicago String Ensemble at age 7 and later with the Chicago Symphony. Well into her career at the age of 20 in 1995, the doors of a Chicago commuter train closed on the straps of her violin case as she tried to get off. She was dragged about 200 feet, severing half of her left leg and mangling her right foot.
After a long recuperation, she overcame the injuries and learned to walk with a prosthetic leg.
She’s since appeared as a soloist with many of North America’s most prestigious orchestras as well as overseas. It’s a career, she said, she was born to do.
She has said she used to sign her kindergarten papers as, “Rachel, violinist,” and pursued her musical aspirations, despite her parents’ somewhat reluctance to bring her to rehearsals.
“Don’t you want to put that thing down and go ride your bike?” they’d ask her.
She hopes to bring classical music to the next generation, to keep it alive for its own sake.
“Classical music is not just a pleasant diversion,” she said. “It really nurtures our souls and uplifts our spirits.”