Classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine is known around the world for writing her own cadenzas and researching music so she plays it as the composer originally intended. Her 30th album, released this spring, is “Testament: Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin.”
But she has another passion: she’s a self-confessed head banger, performing heavy metal with a band. She played for us recently when we met up with her at the Community for Creative Non-Violence, Washington, D.C.’s largest homeless shelter.
Pine visits homeless shelters, hospitals and prisons while she is traveling to give back through music. “I think more and more artists, especially the younger generation, are really understanding the value of community engagement,” she said. “If we were only playing for the converted, we would not be honoring our gifts to the fullest extent.”
Part of the reason she has devoted so much energy to these efforts is that she grew up in a low-income family in Chicago, with a father who was chronically unemployed. Her mother home-schooled Pine so she could focus on her violin studies from an early age after she fell in love with the instrument at the age of four. By age five, she had given her first recital. At seven, she was playing with a professional orchestra, and by 10, with the Chicago Symphony.
Now, she “plays it forward” by helping low-income students pay the types of extra costs many people don’t anticipate: travel fees, sheet music and concert clothing. Her Global Heart Strings project also supports aspiring musicians in developing countries.
Regardless of circumstance, young people need the chance to “explore who they are as artists … to really get in touch with their own personal feelings about the music and their own creativity,” Pine said. “And that’s why it’s so important that every young person have the chance to study music, whether or not they aspire to do it as their life’s work.”
For Pine, life may be coming full circle. Her four-year old daughter who travels with her and her husband is preparing to give her first violin recital.
Watch the NewsHour tonight to learn more about Pine’s music and outreach.
Video by Matt Ehrichs and Jordan Vesey.