The Berliner Philharmoniker is about to start its 2014/2015 concert season, and for three musicians, it will be a very special beginning. Noah Bendix-Balgley, Florian Pichler and Michael Karg take up their places in the orchestra on 1 September in three very different instrumental sections: As a second trumpet, Florian Pichler belongs to the brass, Michael Karg to the double bassists and Noah Bendix-Balgley succeeds Guy Braunstein as first concertmaster.
From Pittsburgh to Berlin
A native of North Carolina, the violinist held the same position with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 2011, where he delighted audiences not only as concertmaster, but also as a soloist, including a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Noah Bendix-Balgley received his first violin lessons at the age of four. Because he loved reading the book The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, his parents thought it would be fun to him to learn the violin. They were right. As a nine-year-old, their son performed before Yehudi Menuhin, and he later he studied at Indiana University and at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich under Mauricio Fuks, Christoph Poppen and Ana Chumachenco. He has won awards at numerous competitions, including the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels (Laureate) and the Concours International de Musique Vibrarte in Paris. As a soloist and chamber musician, he has worked with renowned orchestras and ensembles. When asked how he had felt after passing the audition with the Berliner Philharmoniker, he replied: “I was stunned. I am thrilled to join an orchestra I have always admired greatly from afar.” The now 30-year-old sees his role as concertmaster above all as a leader among equals in the orchestra who must serve to facilitate communication between the conductor and the orchestra, and between different sections of the orchestra. He gives his first concert as concertmaster of the Philharmoniker on 16 October, under the baton of Andris Nelsons.
Florian Pichler and Michael Karg, however, will take part in the season opening concert – and they already know the orchestra a little. After passing their auditions, they have worked as extra players on several occasions and thus have been able to gain an impression of the sound of the Berliner Philharmoniker. For a second trumpet – says Florian Pichler – it is particularly important to be able to adapt well to the sound of the orchestra. The 18-year-old Austrian came to his instrument through his admiration for his father who played the trumpet. At the age of eleven, he played in the local brass band. He trained at the University of the Arts Graz under Franz Tösch and at the Konservatorium Wien University under Johann Plank. Born in 1992, the Amberg-born Michael Karg first learned to play guitar and piano before he took up the bass. He studied under Dorin Marc at Nuremberg University of Music and won several competitions, including the International Johann-Matthias-Sperger Competition for Double Bass in 2012 and the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory Competition in 2014. The recognition he received through winning the competitions encouraged him to apply for the Berliner Philharmoniker: “With its particular sound, the orchestra represents my ideal.”