If you were called to perform a solo in a concert at the last minute, could you do it? Even if the concert was in just three and a half hours?
Most of us would have to say "no," but Chicago-based violinist Rachel Barton Pine was ready to answer in the affirmative when the Ravinia Festival called her late Friday to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marin Alsop - that very night.
Rachel was filling in for violinist Midori, recent Kennedy Center Honoree who had withdrawn from the Friday performance due to illness, according to the Ravinia Facebook page. (We send Midori our best and hope she is feeling better soon.)
The orchestra had already rehearsed with Midori, and there was actually no time before the performance to have a formal rehearsal with Rachel, who was dashing to Ravinia in her car when she posted to Instagram that she was "...studying Prokofiev 1 as I drive to go perform with @marinalsop.conductor and @chicagosymphony on 3.5 hours notice!"
One reason Rachel was prepared for this moment - beyond her high level of training, experience and long devotion to the instrument - was her pandemic project, 24 in 24: Concertos from the Inside. For that project, she performed 24 different violin concertos, live and unaccompanied, over 24 weeks from January through June 2021 - performing from her living room.
Prokofiev's first violin concerto happened to be featured on Week 9 in March. It's a piece she said she's been playing for some three decades, and among other things she tells a fascinating history of its early 20th-century premiere, which was delayed due to the Russian Revolution.
This was the second time this year that Rachel has filled in at the last minute - on March 12, she stepped in for violinist Baiba Skride when the Latvian violinist was unable to travel to Michigan for a Detroit Symphony Orchestra digital concert with conductor Domingo Hindoyan. For that, Rachel played a streamed performance of Mozart Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat major, K. 207. While Mozart 1 wasn't part of her 24 in 24 show, she had it in her repertoire, having recorded the piece in 2015 for her Complete Mozart Concertos recording with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner.
Rachel will play again at Ravinia this season on Sept 7 in a concert called Lara Downes: Rising Sun.
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