29 year old VC ‘Young Artist’ Noah Bendix-Balgley, from the United States was recently announced as the newly appointed 1st Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – a decision that would not have surprised many who have worked with this remarkable young musician.
We this week caught up with the VC ‘Young Artist’, and graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Munich Hochschule, in Pittsburgh – where he has served as the Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, since 2011.
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NOAH BENDIX-BALGLEY | STRAUSS | EIN HELDENLEBEN | CONCERTMASTER SOLO | PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY | 2013
A self described ‘non-star student’, Noah first came to international attention in 2009, aged 24, after advancing to the final of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition, in Brussels – alongside VC ‘Young Artists’ Ray Chen, Lorenzo Gatto, Ilian Garnetz, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky and Jiafeng Chen.
With the exposure, Noah explaining, leading to important contacts and career options – including a path to the coveted Concertmaster’s chair in Pittsburgh.
“I think one doesn’t have to win one of these major competitions to make a career,” Noah has said, ‘… when you take a look at all the violinists who got to the final in my year, regardless of whether they won first prize or third prize or were unranked, every single one of them is having a very successful career at this point.”
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Noah Bendix-Balgley | Brahms Violin Concerto | 2nd Mvt | 2009 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition
Noah acknowledges the challenge of competitions have been very important to both his musical and career development and still today he applies a similar preparation process to almost everything he does professionally – including auditions.
“That’s something I always think about, to continue that process I learned from the competitions, wherever I am – whatever I am doing professionally,” he has said.
Asked if he shaped his playing differently in Berlin to the orchestral auditions he has undertaken in the United States, Noah was adamant one should not.
“I don’t try to show something other than who I am musically and as a violinist, and if that’s a good fit for an ensemble, then they will like me.” he has said.
“It would not be honest to try to play in a way that is not natural … if you win the position, the collaboration would probably not work,” he added.
That said, Bendix-Balgley firmly believes once joining an ensemble, the relationship between an orchestra and its Concertmaster is one of give-and-take mutual respect – with all coming to an understanding collectively, inspired by a leader.
In addition, he has expressed a strong desire in Berlin to continue his chamber music coaching and teaching career.
“I feel I was very lucky with the teachers and instructors I had all throughout my life, and feel it’s a real responsibility to pass on some of the things I have learnt,” he has said.
“Teaching is a real art and something that I am starting to explore, so I don’t claim to be an expert but it’s very exciting to begin exploring that side of music making.”
Noah will commence his appointment with the Berlin Philharmonic in September this year, and will continue commitments and solo engagements with the Pittsburgh Symphony throughout 2014/2015 – describing the next few seasons as a ‘transition to becoming a full time Concertmaster in Berlin’.
Whilst sad to be leaving both his personal and musical connections in Pittsburgh, he has expressed obvious elation at the prospect of living and working in one of the world’s great classical music epicenters.
“I am always struck by how active musically German orchestras are – not just a few people, but the whole ensemble,” he has said.
“Classical music is such a huge part of German culture – it’s in the air! I always feel like I am going back to the source!”