PITTSBURGH – What’s in a name? For Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, it’s a violin with tremendous sound and a historic pedigree.
Bendix-Balgley recently purchased a 1732 Carlo Bergonzi violin from J&A Beare, a dealer in London, after more than a year of searching for a new instrument.
“Everywhere I went, I tried violins—I tried more than 50 top-quality instruments,” Bendix-Balgley said. “This one really intrigued me and spoke to me. It has a unique sound.”
Bergonzi was an Italian luthier (a craftsperson who makes or repairs stringed instruments) and is considered the greatest pupil of Antonio Stradivari. This violin was one of the few Bergonzi made, as the high demand for his repair services as part of Stradivari’s business left him little time to create his own instruments. In fact, only about 55 Bergonzi violins are known to exist.
Bendix-Balgley’s maple and spruce Bergonzi violin has impressive former owners. Its last was British violinist Nigel Kennedy, and it was owned for nearly 50 years by Margot MacGibbon, a well known British musician renowned for her quartet and involvement with the London Mozart Players. Bendix-Balgley purchased the violin this summer with the assistance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He played it while in Europe with the symphony during its recent tour of European Festivals.
“I am so happy to be able to purchase an instrument of this quality at this time in my career with the help of the Pittsburgh Symphony,” Bendix-Balgley said.
Bendix-Balgley will perform a solo on the Bergonzi during Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy on Oct. 25 and Oct. 27 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nikolaj Znaider. This BNY Mellon Grand Classics performance will be the first solo performance for Bendix-Balgley on the Heinz Hall stage since performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in October 2012.
Tickets to “Noah Bendix-Balgley Plays Bruch” (Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m.) are available through the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Noah Bendix-Balgley is a laureate of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and also won third prize and a special prize for creativity at the 2008 Long-Thibaud International Competition in Paris. Bendix-Balgley won the first prize at the 2011 Vibrarte International Music Competition in Paris and was awarded first Prize and a special prize for best Bach interpretation at the 14th International Violin Competition “Andrea Postacchini” in Fermo, Italy. As a soloist, he has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre National de Belgique, I Pomeriggi Musicale of Milan, Orchestre Royal Chambre de Wallonie (Belgium), the Binghamton Philharmonic and the Asheville Symphony (USA). In 2011, Bendix-Balgley was appointed concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His Pittsburgh debut recital in January 2012 was named the “Best Classical Concert of 2012” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bendix-Balgley has also performed his own version of The Star-Spangled Banner for solo violin in front of 39,000 fans at the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day at PNC Park. He is a passionate and experienced chamber musician and has performed on North American tour with the Miro String Quartet. From 2008 to 2011, he was the 1st violinist of the Munich-based Athlos String Quartet, which won a special prize at the 2009 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Competition in Berlin, and performed throughout Europe. Bendix-Balgley has appeared at numerous festivals in Europe and North America, including the Verbier Festival, Sarasota Festival, ChamberFest Cleveland, Brevard Music Center, and Chamber Music Connects the World in Kronberg, Germany. Bendix-Balgley graduated from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Munich Hochschule. He recently joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University School of Music as an artist lecturer and coaches several student string quartets.