Violinist Baiba Skride is enjoying a heady series of debuts with top American orchestras. Last winter, she collaborated for the first time with the New York Philharmonic, and in February, she will make her Carnegie Hall debut with the Boston Symphony, when she performs a series of concerts on tour to the revered New York venue. This month, she will make her inaugural appearances Oct. 27-30 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including a performance Oct. 28 at Wheaton College.         

“I’m so excited to come to Chicago,” Skride said from Brussels, where she was performing with the Orchestre National de Belgique. “Since I was a child, I’ve listened to all kinds of recordings from the Chicago Symphony, and it’s always been one of the dream orchestras to hear, not even to talk about playing with them. So I’m just really excited to hear them live onstage and to be in front of them, and I’m just going to enjoy every single minute I can play with them.”

Andrés Orozco-Estrada

Andrés Orozco-Estrada also is making his CSO debut alongside Baiba Skride.

For these concerts, she will be joined by guest conductor (and fellow CSO first-timer) Andrés Orozco-Estrada, music director of the Houston Symphony and chief conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. The Colombian-born maestro traveled to Vienna when he was 19 to study conducting. Skride and he first appeared together there more than 10 years ago, performing Brahms’ Violin Concerto. With the CSO, the two will team up for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, another of the most beloved masterpieces of this genre.      

Skride recorded the work alongside Carl Nielsen’s Violin Concerto for one of her six albums on the Orfeo label. “I’ve known it many, many years, since I was a child, and it’s just a beautiful piece, one of the best violin concertos ever written,” she said. Though the piece is often performed, Skride doesn’t mind its familiarity. “Sibelius gives you so many chances to say something and gives you these emotions,” she said, “so I don’t ever need to be afraid that it gets boring.”

Born into a musical family in Riga, Latvia’s capital, Skride, 35, seems to have been destined to follow the same career path as her parents and two sisters. Her father was a choral conductor, and her mother serves as a piano accompanist for music students at a local university. Her sister Linda, a violist, plays in a Swedish orchestra, and Lauma, her other sister, is a pianist and her regular accompanist. Indeed, the violinist’s most recent recording, released earlier this year, features the two performing works by Nordic composers such as Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen.

After beginning music studies in her hometown, Skride transferred in 1995 to the University of Music and Theatre in Rostock, Germany. In 2001, her career got a big boost when she won first prize at Belgium’s well-respected Queen Elisabeth Competition. “Nowadays competitions don’t decide as much as they used to, let’s say 25 years ago, because once you have those doors open, you still have to be good enough to always keep them open,” she said. “But certainly, it did give me the opportunity to show what I could do, and over the next couple of years, people did remember that I was a winner. But it also puts a lot of pressure on you. People expect certain things from a competition winner.”

In recitals, Baiba Skride (left) is often accompanied by sister Lauma on piano.

In recitals, Baiba (left) is often joined by sister Lauma on piano. Their new disc features works by Grieg and Nielsen.

The violinist makes her home in Hamburg, where she first visited on a whim. After finishing her studies in Rostock, she didn’t know where to reside, so she moved to the port city in northern Germany because Lauma and Skride’s former teacher lived there. “It was kind of a coincidence,” she said, “but I now I love the place, and it’s a great, nice city to be in.”

Skride is part of a wave of super-talented young artists flooding the field in the last few decades. “I’m very happy that there are so many musicians, but it makes a having a career in a traditional sense more competitive,” she said. “But every door is open nowadays. We can go to every country that we want to go to. It didn’t used to be that easy to travel and play everywhere. As long as musicians are honest and we give audiences the best we can do, it’s great, the more the better.”

Because she had performed frequently with the City of Birmingham Orchestra and developed a strong rapport with its music director, Andris Nelsons, Skride was named as the English ensemble’s artist-in-residence in 2015-16. Then Nelson, a fellow Latvian, left the orchestra after the 2014-15 season, to begin his tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. So Skride’s residency coincided with the orchestra’s search for his replacement, which concluded in February with the appointment of 29-year-old Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as its next music director.

A highlight of Skride’s 2016-17 season will be February appearances with the Boston Symphony in the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Triple Concerto, written for the unusual combination of violin, cello and bayan (a kind of accordion). Now 84, the esteemed composer spent most of her life in the Soviet Union before emigrating to Germany after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.  Skride will team up again with Nelsons for the concerts, as well as Dutch cellist Harriet Krijgh, with whom she has performed previously, and Swiss bayanist Elsbeth Moser.

About six months ago, Skride began performing on the Yfrah Neaman Stradivarius, which has been lent to her by the Neaman family through the Beares International Violin Society in London. The instrument was assembled by the famed Italian craftsman from the parts of two violins from different time periods. “It’s a wonderful instrument,” she said. “It’s a great  challenge for me, because every time I play a piece, basically it’s the first time I’ve played the piece on the instrument.”

Kyle MacMillan, former classical music critic of the Denver Post, is a Chicago-based arts journalist.