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Sarah Chang (born December 10, 1980) is an American violinist.
- "I remember when I was eight, my friends thought it was a little bit unusual that I was going off to Europe or to Asia, and playing concerts. And they would go to Tower (Records) and see my CD out. So that was a little different! But, I guess they've gotten used to it now, and really could not care less," she asserted. "It's nice because most of my friends are not musicians, and it keeps me grounded."
- I had this very interesting experience when I was about 13. I went to Finland and it was dead in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold. There was so much snow and I went to Ainola, which is Sibelius' house. It was completely isolated -- just snow and forest, trees and the lake, completely beautiful but very quiet. And very serene. And I thought, well, this is where he was composing his stuff. And his great symphonies and the violin concerto, this is where it basically came from. I also got this little handbook about Ainola and there's a part that says that Sibelius wouldn't allow running water in his house because it disturbed him and his thought processes. So his daughters had to go out to the well which was half a mile away and then bring back water. So I thought, "Wow!" This person was really that much into control and silence. So you go and look at the concerto after that and the way it starts in the beginning: very shimmery. Very beautiful. But in a way it is isolated, and you feel kind of lonely when you're playing that. And gradually of course it builds up into this great big climax when every single orchestra-like instrument known to mankind is clashing and you're trying to break out there and you're trying to play your heart out. But really it did help me realize what he is like.
- Now this is very funny because my brother's name is Michael Chang, I go in for interviews or just talk to people and they say, "so what does your brother do?" I say he plays tennis and they automatically assume that he is Michael Chang, the tennis player, and I don't say anything.
- "I hate analyzing stuff. I do the bare minimum. When it comes to interpretation, I just play it and go from there. I think emotion is everything. When you get the notes, you've just scratched the surface. The best things happen spontaneously, on stage. I'm doing three concerts here; I guarantee that none of them will be the same. We're not machines."
- "There are certain moments in performance when I'm hand-in-glove with a conductor and feel I can take risks and try something completely different from what we did in rehearsal. Sometimes we pull it off, and it's magical. Other times you try to get creative, the support isn't there, and you think, oh well, maybe next time."
- I've worked with a lot of living composers recently. It drives me nuts, though, that they like to change things at the last minute. For example, two years ago I played a piece that had been completed only the day before, in front of thousands of people in a huge stadium in Taejon, South Korea.
- Everything in my life is planned. It adds stability, but it makes me yearn for something that's not planned, that's spontaneous.
- I try not to take my life for granted. I have friends who have tendinitis. That would kill me. A short break from the violin is fine, but if I don't touch it for three or four days, my fingers start to feel funny.
- The ultimate high for me is being onstage in front of an audience. Nothing else can compare.
- I've always ranked the Brahms as the Mount Everest of all concertos -- and the Beethoven, of course.
- I like Lenny Kravitz, I like Pink, and for forever and ever I've thought that Whitney Houston has an amazing voice. I really love great voices.
- (about concerts)"I love the adrenaline rush you get from having a live audience in front of you. There's nothing like performing live. I like to categorize classical music as one of those really beautiful, glamorous gems from the old era. The men are in tails onstage, the women are in beautiful dresses and the soloist comes out in a gorgeous evening gown. I really, really love that old-school glamour.For me, concert days are always exciting. It doesn't matter if I give 100 concerts or 150 concerts that season. Every concert is magical. Every concert has a sparkle to it. The challenge is to keep myself fresh and to give a spontaneous performance every single night while maturing and growing as a musician every day. The whole art form of being onstage is so mysterious and magical, it fascinates me. "
- (about her beginnings) "People assume I always wanted to be a violinist. It was actually just one of many other hobbies that I had. I had very enthusiastic parents. They gave me swimming lessons and horseback riding and gymnastics and ballet. My mom put me on the piano when I was about 3i. I asked for the violin when I was 4 because I wanted something that was smaller and more portable. I auditioned for the Juilliard School when I was about 6. During the week, I went to a regular school in Philadelphia so I could be with kids my own age." and "I started my career when I was 8 with two debuts in New York and Philadelphia, and then I started recording when I was 9. When you're so young, you don't realize the impact of a New York Philharmonic debut. You're told to do something and you go out and do it and you don't ask too many questions. I think the questions come later when you're in your teens. By the time I was 14, I was spending probably half the year in Europe. So I was out of school a lot. I did most of my homework by e-mail or fax. We made it work because my professors were incredible."
- (about her concert in North Korea) "The concert was full of government officials. Every single last seat. It was invitation only, but it was an unbelievable experience. Frightening and exhilarating at the same time. And I just thought about how lucky I am. I am so fortunate to be a musician, and at that moment, I genuinely felt that music is the one and only universal language."
Q: Did you know you had talent straight away?
A: Not really. It was only when I auditioned for the Juilliard arts school in New York at age five and a half that I realized I was at least eight years younger than everyone else, so I knew I was on to something. Before that, music was just one hobby among many.
Q: What was your big breakthrough?
A: Making my debut with the New York Philharmonic, age eight. The day after my audition, they rang and asked if I could perform the Paganini concerto the next day without rehearsal. I said yes because I didn't know any better. There's no way I'd have that sort of fearlessness now.
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