Ragin Wenk-Wolff, Violinist
Ragin (RAH-gheen) Wenk-Wolff enjoys an extraordinary career. She began playing the violin at age 11, and started studies with her first professional teacher at age 13. Only one year later, at the age of 14, she performed Mozart’s G Major Violin Concerto with her own cadenzas, and since then she has been a soloist with all the Norwegian symphony orchestras, including the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestras and the Norwegian Broadcast Orchestra. She received much acclaim for her performance with orchestra of the Vieuxtemps “Ballade & Polonaise” which was broadcast on Norwegian Television and BBC Radio 3 in England.
Her remarkable playing and mature and moving interpretation of works such as Mozart’s haunting Sinfonia Concertante instantly brought her to the forefront among Norwegian artists. At 17, she made her official debut in Oslo, which caused a sensation, and for which she won the Norwegian Debut Prize. In October 1984 she had her very successful London debut at the Purcell Room (South Bank) and the same month gave a recital in Paris in conjunction with an exhibition of her own drawings.
Having soloed with such orchestras as Het Gelders Orchestra in Holland and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra in Denmark, Ragin was in 1986 invited to record with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. She has recorded for Centaur Records, Aurora, Phillips, Varese International, NOPA, and NKF, and she has broadcast frequently on television and radio in Scandinavia and the US and has been featured on WQXR-New York and WFMT-Chicago. Her busy international commitments have included solo appearances at prestigious music festivals such as Bergen, Elverum and Janacek, as well as concerto performances and recitals in England, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, the Czech Republic, and all over the United States. Among the conductors Ragin has worked with are Karsten Andersen, Moshe Atzmon, Dennis Burkh, Per Dreier, Leo Driehuys, Oivin Fjeldstad, Dmitri Kitayenko, Ole Schmidt, Bryden Thomson, Harold Weller and Thomas Wellin. She gives master classes at major universities whenever time permits.
Her captivating music-making inspired eminent Norwegian composer Johan Kvandal to compose and dedicate his violin concerto and solo sonata to her, and Ragnar Söderlind to write his violin concerto in collaboration with her and dedicate it to her. She has premiered numerous other works dedicated to her by composers including Knut Nystedt, Reidar Thommessen, Christian Schneider and Robert Rønnes.
Ragin’s latest recordings for Centaur Records include the violin concertos by Johan Kvandal and Ragnar Söderlind (CRC 2336), a recital program entitled “Nuit Exotique” (CRC 2392), and a world premiere recording of Julius Röntgen’s violin concerto in A minor (1902), Chausson’s “Poème” and Jenö Hubay’s violin concerto in G minor (CRC 2790).
As a dedicated chamber musician, Ragin has led several string quartets; in Oslo, with members including violist Lars Anders Tomter and Anne Britt Sævig, later a principal cellist at the Oslo Philharmonic; in New York, the Riverside String Quartet, with Laura Hamilton, who became Principal Associate Concertmaster at the Metropolitan Opera and is currently Acting Co-Concertmaster there, and violist Scott Hosfeld; and also the Wenk-Wolff Quartet with three of her siblings.
Ragin, who has also performed as a pianist, began her studies in Oslo with Leif Jørgensen, continued them in New York with Aaron Rosand, Lillian Fuchs and Artur Balsam, in Paris with Ivry Gitlis, and then went to London to study with Nathan Milstein at his invitation.
Ragin plays a Stradivarius dated 1689. Together with her 3 children, she is based in New York and Norway.