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Viviane Hagner returns to solo at Heinz Hall

| Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011

One of the joys of concert life is seeing the talent of young artists mature.

Violinist Viviane Hagner was 23 when she made her Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debut in 2003 playing a masterpiece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for solo violin and solo viola with her teacher Pinchas Zukerman.

This week she returns to solo on her own, eager to re-experience the "fantastic orchestra" and "beautiful hall with great acoustics."

Arild Remmereit will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with Hagner as violin soloist, at concerts Friday and Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. The program is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Joseph Haydn's Violin Concerto No. 1 and Jan Sibelius' Symphony No. 5.

Hagner, 33, lives in Berlin, where she was raised and where she's spent most of her life. Her German father and Korean mother are both physicians.

"They are very musical. They have very, very fine ears and great interest and passion for music," she says. "My sister is a pianist and is working as a doctor."

Hagner is happy her career takes her to Korea every other year or so, when she visits with members of her family. She says she's not quite fluent in Korean, except for talking about food.

Until her early teens, she played both violin and piano, but knew she expressed herself more fully on the violin. Yet, she's glad to play piano, in part because it helps with learning pieces of music.

Although Hagner was 11 when she discovered she really enjoys playing solo violin with orchestra, she decided not to go the prodigy route.

"Rather, I decided on advice from smart people, to go back and study and learn lots of repertoire until I finished high school," she says. "Yes, I did learn all the obvious concerti, and some of the less obvious ones."

The Haydn concerto she's playing with Remmereit and the symphony is one of the less obvious ones.

"The Tchaikovsky Concerto is a big wild piece," she says, "but I think the Haydn is very charming, really beautiful and worth being heard."

Hagner says she's not quite sure what to call her relationship with the violin she plays, the "Sasserno" Stradivarius, which was made in 1717.

"It's an inanimate object, yet I consider it as a quite strong character -- with lots of temperament," she says. "As much as I use it as kind of an extension of myself, I need to really listen into the violin, especially such a special one. It also reacts very sensitively to all kinds of factors, such as traveling or playing in a different room or hall. I think, as a player, if one respects the instrument as a strong character, it will also support you."

Additional Information:

'Mozart's Symphony No. 40'

Presented by: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Viviane Hagner, violin, and Arild Remmereit, conductor

When: 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $20 to $88

Where: Heinz Hall, Downtown

Details: 412-392-4900 or website

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