Brilliant violinist at peak of powers

Last updated 17:02 15/10/2012
Hahn Bin
VIOLIN VIRTUOSO: Korean violinist Hahn Bin's performance wowed the Theatre Royal audience.

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REVIEW: Hahn-Bin with pianist Or Matias Theatre Royal Saturday, October 13, 7.30pm.

Hahn-Bin's performance Till Dawn Sunday will live with me forever and I shall be eternally grateful to the Nelson Arts Festival for bringing him to Nelson. It was the most interesting solo performance on violin, both musically and psychologically.

Hahn-Bin was born in Seoul, Korea and began playing the violin at the age of 5. His musical genius was recognised by Isaac Stern when Hahn-Bin was only 12. He was then educated at the world-famous Juilliard School in New York and was taught for a decade by Itzhak Perlman.

He has mastered all the technical wizardry of his instrument but has not been content to follow the conventional course of a professional musician. He has had the strength of mind and personal courage to be completely himself and express his innermost feelings on the violin.

He plays in dramatic costume. In the first half - The Death of Hahn-Bin - he is dressed in a long black androgynous dress and a ghostly white stole. In the second half - The Birth of Amadeus Leopold - he symbolically breaks out into colourful psychedelic array, complete with dark sunglasses.

He shares the stifling of his talent, his consequent depression and his breaking away from professional conformity. He wants to bring his personal voice and love to his audience, whom he compared to his "family".

And the audience recognised not only his brilliant musicality, but his extraordinary freedom. He danced, he sank to the floor, he leapt up on the grand piano, twirling and cavorting as he played. He flourished his fraying bow to a statuesque climax at the end of each item, demanding audience reaction.

The whole programme was memorised - from Sarasate and Saint-Saens to Gershwin and Bernstein - every item a personal favourite. The capacity audience wouldn't allow him to stop, and he rewarded them with three encores. I hope this 24-year-old can continue to share his whole-hearted and original talent with the world for many years.

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