Rachel Barton Pine (born Rachel Elizabeth Barton, October 11, 1974) is a violinist from Chicago. She started playing at the age of 3 and a half, debuted with the Chicago Symphony at age 10 and performed at many other renowned venues as a child and teenager. Currently she tours worldwide as a soloist with prestigious orchestras, plays in a baroque chamber music group and a heavy metal band, and has an active recording career. She is married to Greg Pine, a health care consulting firm CEO and former minor league baseball pitcher. They have one daughter.
Barton Pine began playing the violin after being inspired by the example of older girls playing at her church. Because she was homeschooled her entire life, her mother started to take her to a local violin teacher for lessons. She debuted with the Chicago String Ensemble at age 7, and with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of Erich Leinsdorf at age 10. Her principal teachers were Roland and Almita Vamos of the Music Institute of Chicago. Home schooling allowed her to practice 8 hours a day. At age 14, she was forced by circumstances to contribute significantly to her family's expenses by taking jobs playing at weddings and in orchestras. Explaining how she managed, she says, "I put on a lot of makeup and pretended I was older than I was."
She attained notable success in a number of violin competitions, for example in 1992 becoming the youngest (at age 17) and the first American gold medal winner at the Johann Sebastian Bach International Competition in Leipzig, Germany. She also earned 2nd prizes in the József Szigeti Violin Competition (1992) and the International Fritz Kreisler Competition (1992), as well as awards from the Montreal International Musical Competition (1991), the Paganini Competition (1993), and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition (1993).
On January 16, 1995, Barton Pine was severely injured in a train accident in the suburb of Winnetka, where she taught violin lessons. As she was exiting a Metra commuter train with her violin over her shoulder, the doors closed on the strap to her case, pinning her left shoulder to the train. The doors, which were controlled remotely and had no safety sensors, failed to reopen, and she was dragged 366 feet by the train before being pulled underneath and run over, severing one leg and mangling the other. Barton Pine was saved by the prompt application of tourniquets by several passengers who disembarked from the train after pulling its emergency brake handles.
She sued Metra and Chicago NorthWestern Railroad for compensation for her injuries and legal and medical expenses, eventually winning a jury verdict in her favor. Metra changed its conductor safety procedures following the accident and made other changes to the trains themselves.
The esteem in which she was held by the classical music community was highlighted when the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra organized a benefit concert and raised over $75,000 after her accident. After a two-year hiatus to allow for recovery from her injuries, aided by numerous surgeries and physical therapy, Pine resumed her career. Pine has appeared as a soloist with orchestras around the world under conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Neeme Järvi, Marin Alsop, Semyon Bychkov, Plácido Domingo, and José Serebrier. She has also appeared with Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, and William Warfield. Her festival appearances include Marlboro, Ravinia, Montreal, Salzburg, and Salzburg's Mozartwoche at the invitation of Franz Welser-Möst.
Her musical interests extend well beyond classical to baroque, folk, Celtic, rock, and jazz. She regularly instructs at Mark O'Connor's annual summer fiddle camp, and in 2004 she released a CD in collaboration with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. A number of living composers have written works for her, including Augusta Read Thomas and Mohammed Fairouz.
Pine performs chamber music as part of Trio Settecento with David Schrader and John Mark Rozendaal, and with the Jupiter Chamber Players. In September 2009, Cedille Records released Trio Settecento's album, A German Bouquet, a selection of German baroque era works with popular pieces by Bach and Buxtehude as well as rarely heard repertoire by artists including Johann Schop, Georg Muffat, and Johann Georg Pisendel. Featuring Pine on baroque violin, Rozendaal on viola da gamba and 'cello, and Schrader on harpsichord and organ, A German Bouquet followed up the group's 2007 album An Italian Sojourn. The trio continued to explore the character and complexion of Baroque music as it developed in various regions of Europe in later albums, focusing on music from France (A French Soirée, 2011) and the British Isles (An English Fancy, 2012 ).
Her current principal instrument is the 1742 "ex-Soldat" violin of Guarneri del Gesu. For seventeenth- and eighteenth-century pieces, she prefers to use an unaltered 1770 instrument of Nicolò Gagliano I.
Her taste in rock runs to heavy metal, with AC/DC, Anthrax, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Megadeth, Metallica, Motörhead, Pantera, Slayer, and Van Halen being among her favorites. She has met and jammed with a number of these; in 1997, she released a heavy-metal-inspired CD. In February 2009, she joined the thrash/doom metal band Earthen Grave, where she performs on a 6-string Viper electric violin. The band has shared the stage with such metal luminaries as Pentagram, Black Label Society, Mayhem, and Nachtmystium. The group released an EP, Dismal Times. Doommantia.com proclaimed that Earthen Grave has "all the songwriting capabilities to make one of the best albums ever." and HellrideMusic.com said "If the doom gods are with us, this band will stay around and continue to produce the kind of unique, powerful and thoughtful music contained on Dismal Times." Pine credits her experience playing in a rock band with improving her emotional rapport with her audiences.
Pine often brings a new twist to her coaching sessions with chamber music and youth orchestras, by incorporating orchestral versions of rock pieces into her sessions. For example, Pine offered the world premiere of her own arrangement of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" with the McHenry County Youth Symphony (Crystal Lake, IL) in November 2009.
Bill McGlaughlin called her a "musical Pac-Man" for her ability to take in and perform so many different kinds of music. She has often performed at schools and on rock music radio stations in an effort to interest younger audiences in classical music.
Pine was inducted as an honorary member of Sigma Alpha Iota in 2003. She performed at the music fraternity's 45th national convention during summer 2009 in Chicago.
Carl Fischer Music recently published a sheet music book of cadenzas and virtuosic encore pieces composed by Pine, as well as her arrangements of other works for violin and piano, as part of its Masters Collection. Pine became the first living composer and first woman to be so honored. Pine has also edited a 4-volume collection of compositions associated with America's pioneering female solo violinist Maud Powell, many of which she has also recorded.
On July 11, 2010, Pine gave a three-part performance at Chicago's Millennium Park as part of the Great Performers of Illinois celebration. After initially performing on baroque violin with Trio Settecento, she soloed in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and then switched gears again to perform in black leather on her electric violin with Earthen Grave. In conjunction with the event, she received the 2010 Great Performer of Illinois award.
In 2010, Pine participated in a tribute album titled Mister Bolin's Late Night Revival, a compilation of 17 previously unreleased tracks written by guitar legend Tommy Bolin prior to his death in 1976. The CD includes other artists such as HiFi Superstar, Doogie White, Eric Martin, Troy Luccketta, Jeff Pilson, Randy Jackson, Rex Carroll, Derek St. Holmes, Kimberley Dahme, and The 77's. A percentage of the proceeds from this project will benefit the Jackson Recovery Centers.
Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation:
Barton Pine started a foundation (rebf.org) bearing her maiden name in 2001 to promote the study and appreciation of classical music, including string music by black composers. It prepares music curricula on black composers, loans high-quality instruments to deserving young musicians, and provides grants to cover incidental expenses (such as for supplemental lessons, accompanists, sheet music, travel, competition entrance fees, instrument repair, and audition recordings) of students and young professional musicians. Another program, Global HeartStrings, is dedicated to supporting aspiring classical musicians from developing countries. In this effort, Barton Pine has been aided by a younger sister, Hannah Barton, also a violinist.
In 2006, after being nominated by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Barton Pine received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for her work through the foundation. She has also been given the 2012 Karl Haas Prize for Music Education for this work and her other education-related efforts.
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