When internationally-renowned violinist Sarah Chang isn’t busy practicing, rehearsing or performing, she plays with Chewie.
No, she’s not one of those diehard “Star Wars” fans: “Chewie” is the name of her beagle mix because — like all dogs, he likes to chew on things.
”My life revolves around my dog,” said Chang, who makes her Musco Center for the Arts debut at Chapman University in Orange on Nov. 18. “He’s really a lot better now than when I first got him, when he chewed on everything, including my socks. I try to take him on my shorter tours, but not when I go to Europe. Then I leave him with my mom. But … I just like to be home with him. He’s literally the best thing in my life.”
Midway through a tour that will see her perform some 20 concerts through mid-December, Chang will give what has become more and more a rarity in her schedule: a solo recital.
“I'm excited and really looking forward to this recital,” said Chang, whose schedule of 100 concerts worldwide mostly consists of concerto engagements. “There aren’t too many halls left that I can still make a debut at. And I get to do chamber music, which I love.”
Even more infrequent for Chang is holding a masterclass, which she will do for violin students at Chapman.
“I love working with students,” said Chang, who turns 38 on Dec. 10. “It’s such a pleasure. It wasn’t long ago I was in their shoes, a student at Juilliard.”
For her Musco debut, Chang will play Béla Bartók's 1915 “Romanian Folk Dances,” Johannes Brahms' 1888 Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108, and César Franck’s 1886 Violin Sonata in A Major. She will be accompanied by Julio Elizalde at the piano, someone she has worked with for the past five years.
“He originally came highly recommended to replace another pianist, [he] arrived on the morning of our first recital, and we clicked immediately,” she said. “I consider him both a friend and a solid 50-50 partner, which is an extremely rare combination for which I am very grateful. And he’s a ton of fun off-stage: We’re both ‘foodies’ and like to try out different restaurants.”
Chang — the daughter of South Korean immigrants, both musicians — is a former child prodigy who made her New York Philharmonic debut at 8 and Carnegie Hall debut at 13. In 2004, she became the youngest ever (then 23) to be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
Despite having started her career so early, Chang insists the violin will never get old for her.
“The violin is probably one of the instruments that's closest to the human voice: you can make the violin sing, it's portable, you hold it in your hands and against your skin, and it becomes a part of you,” said the Philadelphia native. “Plus, the violin has an endless literature and there are always new pieces being added to that list.”
Such as her current project she will premiere next April: a new concerto with Czech-born, English-raised Fil Eisler, alias iZLER, whose compositions can be heard on TV shows like “Revenge” and “Shameless.”
Michael Rydzynski is a contributor to Times Community News.
IF YOU GO
Who: Sarah Chang, violin, accompanied by Julio Elizalde, piano
When: 4 p.m. Nov. 18
Where: Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange
Cost: Tickets start at $35.