Andrew Balio has been a frequent soloist since his earliest days as a student, having made his debut at the age of 15 playing Haydn’s Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony in his home state of Wisconsin. Over the years, he has appeared as soloist with various orchestras in Europe, the US, South America, and Asia under the batons of noted conductors Mehta, Venzago, Herbig, Temirkanov, Rozhdestvensky, Lintu, Stenz Bergman and McGeegan. His Carnegie Hall solo debut came in 2013 in the company of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Constantine Orbelian.
Naxos issued his first solo recording, the Weinberg Trumpet Concerto, with the St. Petersburg Symphony, inaugurating a string of other recording projects planned to document his repertoire. Most recently, Delos Records produced Soli Deo Gloria, Balio’s own transcriptions of the music of J.S. Bach. Soon to be released will be a second transcription recording, this time of the music of Brahms, Schumann, and Schubert.
Balio’s focus has been orchestral since his first rigorous studies at the age of 14 with former Oberlin Conservatory professor Gene Young, who was himself a close pupil of the New York Philharmonic’s and the Juilliard School’s William Vacchiano. The young Balio was unexpectedly introduced to the Chicago Symphony’s Adolph Herseth after a wind ensemble concert that Young had conducted, and this began a five-year association centered on intermittent lessons.
During that time, Young’s methodical instruction gained entrance for Balio to the Tanglewood Music Festival when he was 15, and there he began much-needed studies in solfeggio with Roger Voisin. There he also met his primary and most influential mentor, Charles Schlueter, the newly installed principal of the Boston Symphony after storied decades with the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras. Schlueter offered a place, and ultimately a full-scholarship, for him at New England Conservatory, which Balio briefly attended. While his conservatory studies were quite brief, his apprenticeship and friendship with Schlueter were lasting, and they provided him much experience at the master’s side and as a substitute with the Boston Symphony.
Inspiration led in an unexpected direction when Balio suddenly set music aside, leaving the conservatory to enter a former Jesuit monastery run by a Hindu order, where he lived an ascetic life and practiced meditation for the next four years. It was here that he reconciled his love of music with his faith.
It was in fact the chance meeting at the monastery with Israel’s greatest Klezmer musician and former Israel Philharmonic Orchestra clarinetist, Giora Feidman, that serendipitously turned Balio towards joining his fellow musicians again. The philosophical Feidman exhorted Balio not to play just as an occasional hobbyist but to work towards being a musician full-time again—to dedicate himself to the art and its practice, and to even make music as prayer—while throwing caution to the wind to take a more adventurous path beyond the usual concern of playing correctly. After leaving the monastery, Balio’s first job as he worked to reenter the music world was playing solo-trompeta of the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, high up in the Sierra Nevadas under the infamous Enrique Batiz.
Through no apparent connection to Feidman, five years later Balio became Principal Trumpet the Israel Philharmonic, having caught the attention of Zubin Mehta during the Shira Music by the Red Sea Festival under the direction of Lorin Maazel.
The next and still emerging chapter in this biography is the establishment of The Foundation for the Future of Classical Music, a nonprofit think tank which brings together the best minds and expertise from outside the arts to bear on the various challenges facing orchestras and classical music in the US and worldwide. This new venture was born of the cumulative experience gained in the years at the monastery, in Mexico and Israel, through extensive worldwide touring, and during the tumultuous years that the Baltimore Symphony endured. The institute will bring together the best and brightest to focus on the challenges facing classical music worldwide and promote this beautiful artwork to an ever wider audience. Please visit the Foundation for the Future of Classical Music’s website at www.futuresymphony.org to learn more about the future of classical music.
Andrew Balio is a Yamaha Artist