Nigel Armstrong

Nigel Armstrong portrait courtesy of DFPhotography
Nigel Armstrong, violin

Hailed as “an astonishing talent, with exquisite technique”, Nigel Armstrong was born in Sonoma, California where he began playing the violin at the age of five.

Nigel Armstrong first debuted in 2002 with the Baroque Sinfonia and has since performed with the Boston Pops and Norwegian Radio orchestras; the Reno and Burbank philharmonic orchestras; the Berkeley and Downey symphony orchestras; Bozeman Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Asociación de Profesores de la Orquesta Estable del Teatro Colón and the American Philharmonic of Sonoma County, with which he performed for two seasons.

In 2010, he achieved silver medal wins in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition held in Oslow, Norway, and the First International Violin Competition in Buenos Aires. In both compeitions, he recived additional prizes, including the Premio Tango and the Ole Bull and Nordheim awards in Oslo. In 2008, Armstrong received multiple prizes in the Corpus Christi International Competition, including the Howard Beebe String Award for Solo Bach Performance and the Jean Ten Have Award for Violin Performance.

Following his years with the American Youth Symphony, Nigel Armstrong has since come into international fame as a finalist in the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition receiving Fourth Prize and winning Best Performance of the Commissioned Work by John Corigliano with Stomp.

In addition to serving as concertmaster with AYS from 2009 to 2011, Armstrong also served as co-concertmaster at the Colburn Conservatory of Music where he graduated from in 2011. Currently, he studies with Arnold Steinhardt and Shmuel Ashkenasi in the Diploma program at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Recently, Armstrong debuted with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in April 2013 and soloed with the Pacific Symphony in November 2012.

How did your time with AYS influence you as a musician?

Having the chance to explore some of the greatest orchestral repertoire was a wonderful experience. I fondly remember subbing with the orchestra in Brahms’ 1st Symphony, my first time playing the piece. And that was just the beginning! I joined the year afterward–some of the works that season were, if I remember correctly, Shostakovich’s 10th and Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, both behemoths of the literature.

Any cherished memories that you would like to share?

Certainly. I remember it was during rehearsals for Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra that I gained a real appreciation for that composer’s music. What he does with orchestral colors is amazing. And when we finally got to perform it on the Royce stage I was taken aback by the grandeur and scope of the tone poem. Quite a transformative experience, really.

Why would you encourage other musicians to join AYS?

Playing in AYS is a great way to learn what it’s like playing in a full-sized [100 member] symphony orchestra. And performing in Royce Hall, with musicians like Maestro Treger and the many guest artists [Sarah Chang, Johannes Moser, David Newman, etc.], offers chances to learn on many levels.

My advice to a student considering auditioning for AYS is: give it your best and make the most of it!

What’s next?

I’d love to keep performing as a solo violinist. I’d also like to get a bit more into jazz, tango, bluegrass, you name it. To me these are all great musical traditions and I’d like to broaden my horizons, so to speak.

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