Poster Rachel Barton Pine
Rachel Barton Pine combines classical and metal on her latest recording, 'Dependent Arising.'
Andrew Eccles
New Classical Tracks®

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine combines classical and metal in 'Dependent Arising'

New Classical Tracks (Extended Interview) - Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Cedille Records)

New Classical Tracks - Rachel Barton Pine
New Classical Tracks - September 20, 2023

“From age 10, when Santa Claus brought me my first transistor radio and I discovered all the other kinds of music out there on the airwaves, I was particularly drawn to metal,” violinist Rachel Barton Pine says. “It never occurred to me to play anything but classical on my own instrument. Actually, what changed it all was when I played the National Anthem for a Chicago Bulls playoff game.”

That's violinist Rachel Barton Pine, who's been living at the intersection of metal and classical music most of her life. On her new recording, Dependent Arising, these two worlds collide in the best possible way. Pairing the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with a new concerto written for her by a fellow metalhead, Earl Maneein.

“I used to listen to metal to relax when I was a teenager, which sounds counterintuitive. And I thought that I was drawn to metal because it was so different from classical. But it turns out that I must have been drawn to it because it's so close to classical, which I literally didn't realize until I started playing some of it in my early 20s. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, here's a Vivaldi passage,’ or, ‘Here's this Brahms lick.’ So I thought, ‘How can I introduce people to this side of classical, to the more intense stuff?’

“That's when I started going on the rock radio stations. I would use a cover song kind of as a bridge, like, here's a tune you already know, but here's how it sounds played on the violin. Trying to really rock out. I was really inventing how to make some of these sound effects, which was really breaking new ground. Turns out that Earl Maneein, my friend who wrote this concerto, was literally doing the same thing in New York at the same time, but we didn't yet know about each other.”

You paired this new concerto with Shostakovich's Violin Concerto. You've said that this concerto by Shostakovich holds a special place among metal enthusiasts. Why is that?

“I think the reason that it connects so much is that it's full of some of the same emotions. We all know that Shostakovich was living under this repressive Soviet regime where he was afraid for his life, literally.”

What about Shostakovich's Violin Concerto moves you when you're playing it?

“The older I've gotten and the more aware of history I am and everything else, what moves me so deeply is particularly the first movement. It's the fear and the hiding and all of that that’s just so raw. There's something just so incredible about it going on and on and on until you almost can't take it.”

The new concerto on your recording is called Dependent Arising. What is the emotional journey that the listener experiences?

“Earl is a practicing Buddhist, hence the title of the entire piece, which is Dependent Arising, meaning that everything in life is connected to everything else, that nothing is independent of everything else. Something called the “Heart Sutra” is the last movement, where it's embodying wrath. It's like going and going until you achieve some kind of catharsis, and you definitely hear that in the music. It's relentless and feels very empowering by the end.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Rachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Amazon)

Rachel Barton Pine/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Tito Muñoz – Dependent Arising (Cedille Records)

Rachel Barton Pine (official site)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (official site)

Tito Muñoz (official site)

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