The ‘glamorous’ and creative life of a superstar violinist

By Robert Harris

February 16, 2016

Once, many years ago, as a very young arts journalist, I asked superstar performer Pinchas Zukerman about the glamorous life of an international violin soloist.

“Glamorous!” he snorted. “Here’s what I can tell you about my glamorous life. I can tell you that the baggage carousels are a long walk from the taxi stands in the Narita airport in Tokyo. That the duty-free shops are excellent in Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. That Chicago’s O’Hare is a nightmare. Here’s my life. I arrive in a new city. I go to the hotel, then to rehearse with the orchestra. I’m playing one of the same four concertos I always play – the Beethoven, the Mendelssohn, the Brahms, the Tchaikovsky. I play the concert. Go to the postconcert reception. Go back to the airport, get on a plane and do it all over again.”

I tell that story to current violin superstar Gil Shaham, who will be in Toronto at Koerner Hall on Wednesday, performing the Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto. He laughs. “I love those four concertos,” he says. He’d better, because he’ll be performing them many times over the next few years. But Shaham, now 44, has taken many steps to ensure that his “glamorous” life as a violin superstar isn’t one airport after another. For one thing, he has cut back the number of concerts he does a year, to about 50, and he often travels with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony. Balancing home and career, family and profession, is very important to him.

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