Violinist Robyn Bollinger will step in as the featured soloist to perform Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, February 23, filling in for originally-scheduled guest pianist, Ya-Fei Chuang. Robyn was awarded a 2016 Annenberg Grant for her multimedia performance project entitled CIACCONA: The Bass of Time, and has performed with orchestras and at festivals nationwide, including the Boston Pops, the Grand Tetons Music Festival Orchestra, and the music festivals of Aspen, Lake Champlain, Maui, Marlboro, and Rockport. Concert-goers may also remember Robyn’s appearance as guest soloist on Orchestra of Indian Hill’s 2017/18 Season.
We’re happy that Robyn was able to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to chat with us about filling in with the Orchestra last-minute, performing Paganini, and more …
How did you feel when you got the call from conductor Bruce Hangen about filling in this weekend?
I felt a lot of things in very quick succession! I was of course surprised to hear from Bruce, and I felt sorry for everyone that the original program hadn’t worked out. That said, I was thrilled for the opportunity to return to the Orchestra of Indian Hill — our Szymanowski Concerto last year was a real highlight for me!
Tell us something exceptional about the Paganini Concerto — and what should we be listening for?
Well, everyone will tell you Paganini Concerto is hard – but I also think it’s so, so beautiful. Paganini was a big opera lover — Mozart’s operas were a big inspiration for him, and he was quite close with the famous opera composer Gioachino Rossini. I think that vocal inspiration really comes through in his melodies and more lyrical passages.
What is your practice regimen like? How are you preparing for the performance?
This is an exceptionally difficult concerto. I’ve canceled just about everything else this week to focus solely on this performance, and I’ll be practicing hopefully 4-6 hours a day. I need to break the practicing up into sixty- or ninety-minute chunks in order to protect my hands. It would be very easy to hyperextend my ligaments or strain my muscles in general, so it’s a real balancing act to build endurance without overdoing anything. (Paganini likely had Marfan syndrome, so he was a lot stretchier than I am — and his music is written accordingly!) When I’m not actively playing the violin, I’ll be reviewing the score and listening to recordings of my own practicing.
Check out this clip of Robyn practicing for Saturday’s performance on Instagram:
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What do you like to do outside of playing and performing?
I love to cook! I tend to gravitate toward Asian flavors, and lately I’ve been trying to perfect my own Vietnamese pho recipe (broth from scratch and everything). I am also something of an indoor plant enthusiast. I travel too much to make having a pet truly feasible, so I compensate with lots of indoor greenery. And, on a very happy note, I recently got engaged — so my fiancé and I are waist-deep in wedding planning.
What is on your Spotify or iTunes playlist right now?
I mostly listen to whatever music I need to study: currently the Paganini Concerto, Lalo Symphonie Espagnole, and a few orchestral works. When I want to relax or do work around the house, I turn on Jim Dale’s readings of the Harry Potter audiobooks. Right now I’m at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and as soon as that’s done I’ll go right back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and start the whole series over again!
See Robyn perform Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, February 23. Buy your tickets here.