a view from the stage

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CLASSICAL MUSICIAN IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?

Like other conservatory graduates, I was set on becoming an orchestral player. But something happened in the second year of my Masters degree. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra went on strike. A world renowned orchestra was closing its doors for an indeterminate amount of time, leaving its musicians without work, an audience without an orchestra, and its management with the financial burden of piecing a machine back together. I had just auditioned for a regional orchestra in Ohio, and after not having progressed past the first round, drove back feeling disheartened and like a failure. Like many musicians after an audition, my mind began the internal dialogue about the pros and cons of switching careers.

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NOAH BENDIX BALGLEY: CONCERTMASTER OF THE BERLIN PHILHARMONIC

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra had been on strike for several months, and this was their first concert back in Heinz Hall following several months of painful negotiations between management and the musicians' union. Celebrating the end of what seemed an arduous strike, it seemed fitting that Noah Bendix-Balgely, (the previous Concertmaster of the PSO) would return to play Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the orchestra. Two months prior to Noah's return, I had  interviewed Ann Martindale Williams, Principal Cello of the PSO, to ask her questions about the strike and her views on orchestral careers. When I learned that Noah Bendix-Balgely was flying back from Berlin to perform with the PSO, I thought "Why not ask Noah his thoughts about the future of symphony orchestras?" Several rounds of emails later, Noah agreed to an interview between rehearsals at Duquesne University. Noah had some beautiful insights into the future of classical music, and what millennials should be doing to create a sustainable career in music.

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