Influences: Violinist Rachel Barton Pine

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Rachel Barton Pine will be performing Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin on Sunday, but she could burst into “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at any moment.

The onetime child prodigy, now 37, grew up with a foot in both the classical and heavy metal worlds, and she’s continued that bifurcation throughout her career. She has won a steady string of violin awards, performed with the Chicago Symphony –- her hometown orchestra –- and also plays in the thrash band Earthen Grave. Her latest album, “Caprichio Latino,” is dedicated to the music of Spanish-language composers, from Albéniz to Piazzolla. But early recordings tackle AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and a medley of Led Zeppelin songs.


She’ll be playing at one of the Southland’s best -– and hardest to get into -– chamber music series, at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. Though it’s in the West Adams neighborhood associated with USC, the 1926 building is owned by UCLA and is an internationally important center for rare books, the 18th century, and Oscar Wilde. The wood-lined room in which performances take place is intimate and acoustically close to ideal. Though maybe not if you are blasting Zeppelin.

We spoke to Pine about figures who have inspired or shaped her.

Maud Powell (1867-1920). She is my violin hero. The preeminent American violinist of her day, she soloed with the most prestigious orchestras and continually searched for ever more profound interpretations of the greatest classical masterpieces. However, she also dedicated herself to playing for communities that had never been exposed to classical music, to encouraging young musicians, and to championing works by contemporary composers, women composers and black composers. Almita and Roland Vamos. They were my violin teachers from age 9 to 17, when I completed my formal training. They taught me everything I needed to know about violin technique and musical understanding and communication. They also taught me about values, reminding me to always put family first and advising me to never compromise my ethics for the sake of my career.

Guns N’ Roses. While my usual taste in heavy metal is thrash, Guns N’ Roses was definitely my favorite band as a teenager. Fellow redhead Axl is still hands-down the most charismatic frontman I’ve ever seen, and I was inspired by the way he connected with his audience. His guitarist, Slash, could shred as well as anyone but never played any empty notes, always creating beautiful musical lines the entire time he was playing.

Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881). Vieuxtemps was one of the great post-Paganini virtuosi. In addition to his original compositions, he created numerous violin fantasies on popular operas and turned favorite American folk songs, for example “Yankee Doodle,” into flashy yet tasteful showpieces. These appealing arrangements of familiar music helped new listeners discover the joy and beauty of the violin.

Sam Hill. He was the organist-choirmaster at my church when I was growing up. His own musicianship ran from Bach Toccatas and Fugues to gospel improvisations. Beginning when I was 4, he frequently invited me to play during worship service, teaching me that the true meaning of playing music is to share it with others and uplift their spirits.

-- Scott Timberg

Rachel Barton Pine, 2 p.m. Sunday, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles. Sold out. (310) 206-8552.