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Former Pittsburgh Symphony Concertmaster To Perform Klezmer-Inspired Violin Concerto

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Noah Bendix-Balgley was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster from 2011 through 2015. Now the Concertmaster for the Berlin Philharmonic, Bendix-Balgley continues to showcase his artistic talent through the PSO. This weekend he will perform his own Klezmer arrangement with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Klezmer is the traditional folk music of Eastern European Jews, and it is characterized by its energetic and emotional dance feel as well as its mournful, improvisational moments. The Klezmer tradition is one recognizable from the music of traditional Jewish weddings and shows like Fiddler on the Roof.

Bendix-Balgley worked with composer Samuel Adler to tackle the particular challenge of adapting a style of music typically performed in a band of three to a dozen people into a full orchestral composition.

Traditional pieces of Mahler’s Symphony No.5 and Mozart’s Rondo in C Major will be performed alongside Bendix-Balgley’s own original Klezmer concerto, showcasing the wide range of skills and specialities of the concertmaster.

Bendix-Balgley may practice his trade largely in Berlin, but Pittsburgh remains an important city on his radar. After spending years with the PSO, Bendix-Balgley feels a strong bond and connection to the group of musicians who make up the orchestra.

“I feel this is a very special city and a very special orchestra, so the opportunity to premiere my concerto with the Pittsburgh symphony is, for me, is very important,” said Bendix-Balgley.

This devotion has kept Bendix-Balgley working for the PSO while also starting his position in Berlin. It’s also what keeps him coming back to Pittsburgh for this and other special upcoming collaborations.

Bendix-Balgley and his father, Erick Bendix, an expert in Yiddish and international folkdance, will be teaming up on Wednesday, June 15 at the Jewish Community Center. The free Music for the Spirit event will be an informative session for those interested in Klezmer’s history.

“We’ll be talking about the origins of Klezmer music and different styles, and he’ll be showing dance steps. I’ll be tying that into how I describe how I composed this concerto, which styles of the Klezmer dance tradition, which styles I incorporporated into this concerto,” said Bendix-Balgley.

Manfred Holneck will be conducting the closing weekend performances of Bendix-Balgley from June 17-19 at Heinz Hall.

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