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Author: Becca Vaclavik

Back in Boulder: Sarah Chang returns to Colorado for a special solo recital with pianist Julio Elizalde

At an age when most young children enter a kindergarten classroom for the first time, Sarah Chang instead found herself attending The Juilliard School for her otherworldly talents as a violinist. Before she turned 6, she had already traded crayons for concertos.

Just a few short years later, Boulder audiences were invited to be part of a historic performance, as the 8-year-old child prodigy performed with the Boulder Philharmonic in her first professional orchestra concert. At such a young age, the commotion of a professional performance and its various players was a fascinating experience. But it was also quite daunting, and not just for Chang. Her parents, music artists themselves, were nervous, too. In fact, it’s one of the first things she remembers about her first time in Boulder.

“They were both pacing around in my dressing room before the concert and fretting so much that I had to kick them out of the room and ask them to go pace somewhere else.”

But they made it through the event in one piece. And shortly after, Chang went on to debut in a more official capacity with the New York Philharmonic. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, Colorado residents will have the pleasure to hear her perform a rare solo recital with pianist Julio Elizalde in Macky Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 16.

In the nearly three decades since her first Boulder performance, Chang has played with virtually all the top orchestras and artists across the globe. But even as an enduring global icon, she finds herself playing in our city time and time again. It’s an area, she says, that holds a special piece of her heart.

“[Boulder] gave me one of my very first opportunities when I was literally a child and was just starting out in the music business. I am always grateful to the city and its community.”

We asked which local haunts she’ll visit when she’s in town, but unfortunately, there is hardly any time—Boulder is a brief stop on a fast-paced global tour. Following her time here, she’ll spend a single day in California. The day after that? On to Switzerland.

One peek at her Twitter account shows it can a grueling schedule: “[Sometimes] we get offstage around 11 p.m. After signing sessions and photos, that means we sit down for dinner close to midnight … We are literally still eating at 2 a.m.! Then 4 a.m. pickups to the airport for the next city … Honestly, these back to back to back to back flights with concerts every day in a different city aren’t as glamorous as one might think.”

It helps to have the occasional adventure on the road—paragliding, time spent with friends living in the cities she tours—or to bring along comforts from home. Chang is a dedicated dog-mom and travels with her pup Chewie whenever she can. (He’s a great traveler, she says, though he isn’t joining her for her brief stint in Colorado.)

Given her schedule, and the challenges of performing sometimes hundreds of concerts in a year, it is a particular treat local classical music lovers will have the opportunity to hear one of the greatest violinists of all time once again.

“I love every single piece on this program! The Bartók is a firecracker of a piece—hugely fun to play; the Brahms is so heartbreakingly beautiful that it has been and will always be one of my favorite works; and the Franck is an absolute masterpiece.

“It’s a program of stark contrast and colors, and I’m thrilled to be playing my first recital program in Boulder.”

See Sarah Chang, violin, and Julio Elizalde, piano, on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium. Tickets start at $20.