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Concert Violinist Plays Indie-Rock Gigs

Violinist Hilary Hahn is just as comfortable performing in a strapless gown at Carnegie Hall as she is wearing jeans at a rock club.

The 27-year-old has been sought after on the classical music circuit since she made her first recording more than 10 years ago.

Lately, Hahn is finding time to record with a handful of indie-rock artists. She recorded a song with an up-and-coming Texas band with a mouthful of a name: And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. And Hahn recently played alongside singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau at Seattle's Tractor Tavern.

The Grammy Award-winning violinist is featured on Brosseau's new album, Grand Forks, which deals with the flooding of his hometown in North Dakota.

Hahn says her rock career started by accident when she volunteered to play with a family friend. She liked performing in smaller venues and felt connected to the audience.

Playing rock gigs, Hahn says, has taught her to become more comfortable with improvisation and given her a new appreciation for her own musical process.

"I really admired the music that I was playing in a way that I hadn't before," she says.

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Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.