PSO concertmaster joins CMU faculty

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The current and former concertmasters of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are joining the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University or taking on additional responsibilities there.

Noah Bendix-Balgley, 28, the PSO's current concertmaster, will join the CMU faculty as an artist lecturer this fall to coach student string quartets.

Andres Cardenes, 55, who was the PSO's concertmaster from 1989 to 2010, will be the new artistic director of orchestral studies at the CMU School of Music. In this capacity, he will head up orchestral activities and conduct two CMU Philharmonic concerts. Mr. Cardenes already is Dorothy Richard Starling and Alexander Speyer Jr. university professor of violin.

Since 2011, Mr. Bendix-Balgley has been the PSO's concertmaster, or the first chair of the violin section. Due to his schedule, he will work with two or three groups, according to Denis Colwell, head of the CMU School of Music.

"Noah is such an exciting and dynamic performer in his own right, not only with the PSO but as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He's done some really wonderful performing, and it's just great to have a musician of his caliber available to work with our students," said Dana Casto, director of marketing and communications for the school of music.

Mr. Cardenes has taught at CMU since 1989, when he started as concertmaster of the PSO. He will continue to teach the violin and hopes to upgrade the standard of orchestral studies at the university.

"I felt the typical university orchestra model was outdated and was not really serving the students in the correct manner," he said Thursday.

He replaces Ronald Zollman, who resigned this spring. Despite being appointed on short notice, Mr. Cardenes was able to secure guest conductors for next season, although professional musicians often are booked years in advance, said Mr. Colwell. Mr. Cardenes' interest in bringing different conductors to campus made him a particularly attractive candidate to Mr. Colwell.

"It was really his connections and his relationships with these participating guest conductors that we were able to [bring guest conductors to CMU]," said Mr. Colwell.

"I feel an education involves being able to respond and to understand different ways of rehearsing and different ways of conducting and different personalities and backgrounds," said Mr. Cardenes.

In addition, he is developing a series of reading rehearsals in which students will have the opportunity to play in a full ensemble context works they normally rehearse alone for orchestra auditions. He plans to involve faculty in the orchestra program, including having them sit in on or lead rehearsals. And he is working with CMU to revamp the concert experience at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, such as improving acoustics, lighting and audience development efforts.

With Mr. Bendix-Balgley's appointment, Mr. Colwell believes there will now be 23 current or former PSO musicians on the CMU faculty.


Elizabeth Bloom: or 412-263-1750 or on Twitter @BloomPG. First Published August 2, 2013 4:00 AM


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