Margarita Balanas, cello
“Margarita Balanas performed to a full house, as the attentive and enthusiastic crowd soaked in the stunning music (...) Margarita Balanas appeared like a vision, and made it clear why she is featured at this cello-lovers festival. Her rendition of György Ligeti’s Sonata for solo cello was powerful, delicate, intense and brilliant...”
— GLAM Adelaide
“Ligeti, who died nine years ago, may be known by his music in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, but cellist Margarita Balanas turned this extraordinary solo sonata into a dynamic tour-de-force”
— Hilary Behrens, Co-Founder IMS
Latvian cellist Margarita Balanas is one of the most exciting and versatile artists of her generation. Known for her distinguished artistry and mesmerising stage presence, Ms Balanas has performed to audiences world-wide being hailed as “powerful, delicate, intense and brilliant” (GLAM Adelaide).
This season will include debut concerts at the Berliner Philharmonie and Laeiszhalle Hamburg, a concert tour with the Israel Camerata and Doron Saloman, directing Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Cyprus Chamber Orchestra, as well as performances with IASI Philharmonic Orchestra and Gabriel Bebeselea, and the Orchestra of St. John’s and John Lubbock as part of the Ashmolean Proms. Other highlights include performances at Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, Barbican Centre in London, and participation in the International Cello Festival Shanghai and International Cello Cesis Festival in Latvia.
Ms Balanas made her solo debut at Wigmore Hall at age 17 and has since has performed in venues such as Foundation Louis Vuitton, Royal Festival Hall, Casa da Musica and Le Corum, and has appeared in festivals such as Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles, the Adelaide International Cello Festival in Australia, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove, French Chamber Music Festival, Roman River Music Festival, Minoa Palace Chamber Music Festival, and Aurora Chamber Music Festival and the Brighton Festival.
Ms Balanas has collaborated with such artists as Trevor Pinnock, Murray Perahia, Paul Daniel, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Lynn Harrell, Peteris Vasks, Signum Saxophone Quartet, Christoph Richter, Carlos Izcaray, Thomas Riebl, Ilan Rechtman, and David Thomas. Most recently, she was extended a personal invitation by Anne-Sophie Mutter to tour with the Mutter Virtuosi across South America and Europe.
Ms Balanas regularly performs with her sister, violinist Kristine Balanas, and together they have performed across the globe, dazzling audiences with their virtuosic splendour. Most recently, the sisters performed at the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier, and future collaborations include performances at the Cayman Arts Festival and Emergents Barcelona Music Festival at the L’Auditori de Barcelona where they will perform Brahms’ Double Concerto with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dalia Stasevska.
Ms Balanas is a prizewinner of numerous international competitions, and is supported by the Anne Sophie Mutter Foundation, the Drake Calleja Trust, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Philharmonia Orchestra's Martin Musical Scholarship, the Craxton Memorial Trust, the Tillett Trust, the Hattori Foundation and the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust. Most recently she was awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal.
Ms Balanas began her musical studies with Arvids Tareila and Maris Villerušs at Emils Darzins Specialist School of Music in Riga, Latvia, before moving to England to study with Alexander Boyarsky at the Purcell School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music with Mats Lidström. Mentored by cellist Lynn Harrell, she was selected as one of six cellists to take part in the third edition of Gautier Capuçon’s Classe d’Excellence de Violoncelle at the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
Ms Balanas plays the Charles Adolphe Gand ‘Auguste Tolbecque’ 1849 cello generously on loan to her by the Little Butterfly Foundation. Camille Saint-Saëns wrote his cello Concerto No. 1 for Tolbecque who premiered the concerto on this cello in 1873. The Tel Aviv Museum in Israel commissioned a short documentary about the instrument, which is to be released and presented by them later this year. The film is being produced by On Cue Productions.