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The Atlanta Journel


PREVIEW: Vanessa-Mae8 p.m. Sunday. $10; $12 at the door. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave.: N.E. 404-521-1786.: Classical: Rebel with a violin: At 17, Vanessa-Mae shakes up concert halls, pop charts.
It's safe to say Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson is not your ordinary violinist. Dubbed one of People magazine's "50 most beautiful people in the world" earlier this year, the sultry 17-year-old "Paganini in hot pants" feels equally comfortable dancing around the stage wearing a sequined miniskirt while playing a disco version of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" or performing classical standards with symphony orchestra in formal concert attire.
For her Atlanta debut Sunday at the Variety Playhouse, Vanessa- Mae will stress the more unbuttoned side of her personality, the one that propelled her first pop album, "The Violin Player," to sales of more than 2 million copies worldwide.
"I like to take the audience on an adventure," the violinist says in a high-pitched, lightly British-accented voice. . She's calling from New York, the second stop in her eight-city American debut tour. "In Atlanta I'll be playing country and western, jazz, rock and roll, even some ethnic and ambient music on my electric violin. I like to present many different kinds of emotion."
Accompanied by a six-piece band of electric guitars, percussion, winds and keyboard, she'll feature several selections from "The Violin Player," including the "Toccata and Fugue" and a reggae version of "Classical Gas."
But what will she wear? "I haven't decided yet," she says. "Probably boots, maybe my Dolce & Gabbana dress or another outfit made for me. I go through different stages."
Between her jamming and jiving, Vanessa-Mae will switch back to acoustic violin for a mini-classical recital, performing works by Brahms, Kreisler and her idol, the 19th-century violin showman Paganini. "If he had an electric violin, he'd be doing amazing things with it. He took the violin further than it had ever been taken, and that's what I am trying to do. The fact that we were born on the same day (Oct. 27) is a spooky coincidence."
Paganini was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent. Vanessa-Mae swears she hasn't. But the Singapore-born, London- reared daughter of a Thai mother and Chinese father seemed destined to be different. At 5, she gave up a promising career on piano for the violin. When she was 10, she made her concerto debut, performing with the London Philharmonia Orchestra. Two years later, Vanessa-Mae went on her first international tour and made her first concerto recording, becoming the youngest artist ever to record the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven violin concertos.
Soon after becoming a teenager, she discovered the electric fiddle, vowing to "do for the violin what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar."
Vanessa-Mae elaborates: "Hendrix did so many new things for guitar in his day, and that's what I want to do with the violin. It's such a beautiful, versatile instrument."
To hear Vanessa-Mae, call 511, enter 8600, then access code 834.
Copyright 1996, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.
Derrick Henry STAFF WRITER, PREVIEW: Vanessa-Mae: 8 p.m. Sunday. $10; $12 at the door. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave.: N.E. 404-521-1786.: Classical: Rebel with a violin: At 17, Vanessa-Mae shakes up concert halls, pop char., The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 11-22-1996, pp P18.


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