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Anticipation builds for Hilary Hahn concert (w/video)

  • Violinist Hilary Hahn performs at the Vatican in April 2007 during a concert celebrating Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday. (Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press, file)

Although violinist Hilary Hahn returns on a regular basis to perform at venues in San Francisco and Berkeley, it's been more than 13 years since she appeared in Sonoma County.

From 1997 to 2001, the rising young star performed with the Santa Rosa Symphony three times, working her way through the lyrical Mendelssohn, Brahms and Elgar violin concertos.

Now a bona fide superstar at 34, Hahn has recorded a total of 14 albums and received two Grammy awards. She has also matured from a virtuosic prodigy into a daring artist, championing new works and pushing musical boundaries with cross-genre collaborations.

So it was not surprising that her recital, coming up at 3 p.m. Sunday at Sonoma State University, was one of the hottest tickets of the 2013-14 MasterCard Performance Series.

“Hilary Hahn was one of the big sellers right out of the gate,” said Jessica Anderson, marketing manager at SSU's Green Music Center. “Those tickets were flying out as soon as they went on sale.”

Accompanied by pianist Cory Smythe, Hahn will perform a wide-ranging recital program of works by Telemann and Mozart, Schubert and Schoenberg. But the most interesting may be the two short works that open the program.

The affecting “Three Sighs” by Anton Garcia Abril and the angst-laden “Shade” by Richard Barrett both were commissioned by Hahn for her latest album, “In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores” (2013).

A few years ago, Hahn decided that her repertoire for encore performances was getting a bit thin in terms of contemporary works. So she explored that genre, then personally reached out to 26 composers, asking each to write a work. For the 27th, she held an online competition that attracted 400 entries.

Since 2013, Hahn has sprinkled those works into her recitals, creating a new style of encore repertoire for the 21st century.

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