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new year, new talent

January 09, 2012

new year, new talent

David Fung

To kick off a new and promising year, LACO is continuing its long tradition of bringing new and promising talent to our audiences when 21-year-old violinist Nigel Armstrong appears with the Orchestra on January 21 & 22 in Mozart. Armstrong is a native of Sonoma County, but his journey to the LACO Orchestral Series has hardly been just a trip down the 101. No stranger to LA, Armstrong studied at the Colburn Conservatory and held the post of concertmaster with American Youth Symphony. Currently attending the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Armstrong’s burgeoning career has taken him from California to Buenos Aires to Moscow and back again. Below, a sampling of highlights from his musical life so far.

First, glimpse of greatness on the horizon as Christopher O’Riley interviews a 12-year-old Armstrong, who was in Boston to perform Dvořák’s Romance in F minor on NPR’s From the Top in 2003. (His segment picks up at about 23:30.)

Fast forward several years, when Armstrong was all of 20 and the silver medalist of the Primero Concurso Internacional de Violín in Buenos Aires, playing Paganini’s Capriccio

Having also taken home the Premio Tango prize from the Concurso Internacional in 2010, his recital tour of Argentina the next year found him collaborating with Diego Schissi and Juan Pablo Navarro, wooing (and wowing) audiences with “Adios Nonio”

No doubt the presenters of those South American shows were hailing Armstrong’s latest triumph: placing fourth (the top ranking of any American) at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition last June. In an effort to promote contemporary repertoire, the competition commissioned John Corigliano to compose Stomp, a solo work to be played by all of the violin candidates, and Armstrong was awarded the prize for Best Performance of the Commissioned Work. When he brought Stomp to Chicago’s MusicNow series in the fall, the Chicago Classical Review said, “The young violinist blazed through the complexities of the work…with rock-like abandon and apt show-biz panache.” Watch Armstrong’s performance of this homage to American fiddle music in Moscow.

Finally, read about Armstrong’s experiences competing for the Tchaikovsky prize and traveling in Russia for the first time.

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