When I had the pleasure of hearing the young violinist Julian Rachlin performing live and seeing him in action at this year’s summer festival at Verbier, it was clear that this performer had something more to offer than a beautiful tone-palette on the violin (and the viola for that matter, his second instrument of choice). His recent interest in conducting also must contribute to transmitting his widening spectrum of deep involvement with the classical music he loves.
Most definitely this artist has shown determination in establishing a powerful artistic communication on many different levels. For one thing, he integrated the classical music world with personalities from the film industry. This he tried and succeeded with at his own “Julian Rachlin and Friends” Music Festival in the Croatian Dubrovnik. James Bond film legend, Roger Moore, proved a fascinating lover of classical music getting involved with Prokofiev- readings of Peter and the Wolf, and the classical comedian team Igudesman& Joo, longtime personal friends of Rachlin, spoofed away at the festival and beyond on their you- tube gigs which have been followed by their millions of fans, since the festival’s inauguration in 2001.
“I fell in love with the medieval town, and at the time – I was 25 years old- the festival that had enjoyed a great tradition in the sixties and seventies before the war, was completely bankrupt and many monuments still lay in ashes. The revival of the festival was offered to me, if I was able to bring them even just two or three amazing musicians, like Vengerov, Bashmet or Maisky,” remembers Rachlin, about the beginnings of his involvement in Dubrovnik, after a performance there.
And sure enough even at his early age, Lithuanian born Rachlin, who has been based in Vienna since 1978, was able to rely on his good contacts and ability to connect– a talent in itself, which helped him build the festival into a yearly attraction, with financial support of the newly founded “friends of Rachlin and friends” in the US and Austria. It is now in its eleventh year attracting an array of world famous musicians, from conductor Zubin Mehta to Rachlin’s long -term mentor, pedagogue and chamber-musician, Boris Kuschnir. Photo – Rachlin with Zubin Mehta at Dubrovnik’s Festival “Rachlin and Friends”
In 2010, Rachlin was officially appointed UNICEF ambassador, raising money and awareness for projects, supporting underprivileged children all over the world.
“I have also started an intense collaboration with the soccer club of Barcelona, whose entire team is an ambassador for UNICEF as well. That allowed me to connect my love of soccer and bring this interesting alliance into the classical music arena. This connection just begged to be further developed into the UNICEF soccer -gala event at my festival in Dubrovnik, mixing ex-celebrities of the football team with musicians and football enthusiasts from the media. The children get inspired by the interaction of all their heroes.”
Photo of the venue in Dubrovnik by Wolf-Dieter Grabner.
While building on the old and incorporating the new does not seem like an entirely new concept initially, Rachlin’s sure entrepreneurial instincts and personal integrity have proven successful in bringing people from all different directions together and has gained him stout support and a great following.
Without the “dumbing” down aspect of classical music, used by so many, through crossovers into other more popular music genres, he is guarding the integrity of classical music and its protagonists.
“Classical music will never die, but we have to find new ways of packaging it to warrant what it takes to achieve its highest quality, “says Rachlin quoting his old time friend, cellist Misha Maisky.”On a personal note, I recognize all the great individual efforts of some of the most prestigious agencies that went into building my professional reputation, even if now I have decided on a different approach.” Since this year, Rachlin has hired a smaller management’s representative, the entrepreneurial Alexia Blumenthal, focused to bring all of Rachlin’s and his many friends’ endeavors under one umbrella. She is continuing to expand horizons for Rachlin’s outreach into North- and South America.
This Friday, October 14th, Rachlin will open the Philadelphia Orchestra’s new season under the baton of Charles Dutoit, in his final season as the orchestra’s chief conductor of thirty years, with Sibelius’s violin concerto.
Rachlin has performed with the venerable conductor, who will continue collaborations with the Philadelphia Orchestra as their conductor laureate during their 2012-13 seasons.
Further upcoming performances for Rachlin include engagements with: The Israel Philharmonic (Zubin Mehta); Orchestra Filharmonica della Scala (Daniel Harding); Leipzig Gewandhaus (Josep Pons); Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (Yannick Nézet-Séguin);Detroit Symphony(Leonard Slatkin); and the Orchestre National de France (Daniele Gatti). He will also continue his play/direct performances with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,the Camerata Salzburg, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Moscow Virtuosi.
With his regular duo partner, pianist Itamar Golan, Rachlin will perform a series of recitals, including a Beethoven Cycle at the Beethoven fest in Bonn and a Brahms Cycle at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. Currently composer Krzysztof Penderecki is writing a Double Concerto for Rachlin, to be premiered at the Vienna Musikverein in 2012 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons.