Sarah Chang, one of the world’s greatest violinists, returns to OKC to perform with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic as part of a night of darkly romantic music including Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.
She debuted with the New York Philharmonic at age 8, which led to a successful career lasting over twenty years. OKC Phil Conductor Joel Levine said that Rachmaninoff’s piece takes the audience on an emotional journey that is a trademark of the composer.
“Long, expansive melodies and fast, delicious writing makes the listener sit up and watch a virtuoso orchestra working at the top of its game,” Levine said.
Chang will perform with the orchestra on Bruch’s composition, a piece that, according to Levine, “does everything right.”
“There is no tortured musical agenda here; the piece is designed to make everyone feel wonderful,” he said.
“The Bruch is one of the most popular, beautiful concerti in the violin repertoire,” Chang added.
“I love how unapologetically romantic and lush it is, with soaring melodies, heart-tugging lyricism and technical fireworks.”
Chang first performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 as part of her Juilliard School audition at age 5.
“I have such a special place in my heart for the piece, since it was the concerto that got me into the school of my dreams,” Chang said.
She explores every piece of music she performs far beyond the notes on the page.
“I research as much as I can about the composer, not just about his life but specifically what he was going through during the timeframe he was writing the particular work,” Chang said. “I feel it’s essential for any and every piece one performs onstage.”
Music has been a part of Chang’s life since she was 3. It’s a passion that has translated into her older years; as an adult, she promotes music education programs for children.
In 2011, the US Embassy named her an artistic ambassador and sent her to schools all over the world to perform, teach and help inspire the next generation of musicians.
“I believe that early exposure is essential,” Chang said. “It truly is a joy and a privilege, seeing and working with so many children from so many different cultures and all facets of life.”
Chang is among one of the most in-demand classical musicians working today with bookings extending years into the future.
The downside is that she ends up spending large swaths of time in airplanes and airports.
“I sleep all the time because I’m perpetually jet-lagged,” she said. “The love I have for performing, though, and the natural high one gets from being onstage and making music, is beyond incredible.”
When asked how a multi-awardwinning, world-class violinist relaxes, she said she takes far-flung departures from her daily experiences to help keep her life in balance.
“If I have a rare free evening off, I love hanging out with friends, eating great food and watching trashy reality TV shows,” she said.