“I grew up with classical and klezmer music,” says Noah Bendix-Balgley. “My father specialises in Eastern European folk dance and Yiddish dance.” Even as a child, the current first concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker regularly attended klezmer workshops and festivals, where he played in jam sessions and gave concerts. “Two musicians I studied with who had a particularly strong influence on me were the wonderful violinist Alicia Svigals (The Klezmatics) and the singer and violinist Michael Alpert (Brave Old World),” says the American violinist. “I’ve always considered my klezmer background a good counterbalance to my classical playing.”
In this Late Night with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Noah Bendix-Balgley focuses on his passion for klezmer – including his own Fidl-Fantazye, which will be presented in a chamber version by Samuel Adler. “When I became concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, I started thinking about commissioning a klezmer-style concerto for myself,” says Bendix-Balgley. When the project threatened to fall through, the violinist wrote the work himself, which premiered in Pittsburgh in 2016. In addition to Adler’s Duo for eight strings and other works, the programme also includes Yizkor for viola and string orchestra by Ödön Pártos, with Amihai Grosz, first principal viola with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In this piece from 1946, composed against the background of the Holocaust, the soloist acts as a kind of precentor at prayer, whose introspective “singing” is mirrored by the ensemble.