Rachel Barton Pine, guest violinist with the WVSO Performing on September 17th for Opening Night 2016

Rachel Barton Pine, guest violinist with the WVSO Performing on September 17th for Opening Night 2016

The line dividing classical music and heavy metal music isn’t all that thick — at least, it doesn’t seem so for world-renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

“So many of the serious heavy metal genres were influenced by classical music. A lot of the [heavy metal] guitarists studied or practiced classical pieces,” said Pine, who helps the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra open its new season at the Clay Center this weekend.

That’s not just something the 39-year-old Chicago native has heard, but something she’s seen. For years, Pine played an electric six-string fiddle in the group Earthen Doom.

It was a side project, but as part-time jobs go, she thought it was a good one. Earthen Doom opened for Megadeth, Mayhem and Black Label Society, among others.

“I had the great honor of meeting some of my favorite bands,” she said.

And she was surprised by how many of them were not just classical music fans, but classical music fanatics.

Pine said, “Hanging out with Dan Lombardo, the drummer for Slayer, he showed me his iPod and it’s filled with Rachmaninoff, Berlioz and Liszt.”

Many metal musicians are just fans of good music. If it’s good, it hardly matters whether a piece was written in a drawing room in 17th century Italy or in garage in 20th century New Jersey.

“Classical concerts are so much more nuanced,” she said. “You don’t want to miss a single detail of the performance. The audience is so quiet, you can hear a pin drop — and that’s how it should be.”

“But at a rock concert, when you’re plugged in and playing loud, you know exactly to what degree the crowd is with you. If they’re into it, they’re going to be loud. They’re going to bang their heads, maybe throw the [metal] horns and move closer to the stage.”

Pine has seen all of that and said the experiences in metal have taught her how to be a better communicator with all the music she performs, including classical, which is what she’ll be playing this weekend.

Original article by Bill Lynch from the Charleston Gazette-Mail from 9/18/14