Bella Hristova (Contributed photo)
Violin sensation Bella Hristova to play at Pequot Library
By Douglas P. Clement
On Christmas Eve, violinist Bella Hristova, known for her passion, technical agility and beautiful sound, performed as a soloist with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, bringing her own magnetic style to Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E, Op. 64.
For the native of Bulgaria, who lives in Philadelphia and draws raves from classical music’s most exacting arbiters—“stunning” “exuberance, dignity and finesse,” “amazing,” “brilliant passages” “there is a ‘rightness’ to all her choices”—the Carnegie Hall concert was a highlight of her young career.
“It was a huge concert (with Jaime Laredo conducting) and I’m really pleased with how it went,” Hristova (pronounced h’REE-stoh-va) says in a phone conversation about an upcoming concert in Connecticut.
The 28-year-old musician—who makes magic on a 1655 Nicolò Amati violin—is so passionate and devoted to the future of classical music that she is happily transitioning from her third appearance at a major classical music mecca like Carnegie Hall to a concert Jan. 11 at a more diminutive venue, the Pequot Library in Southport.
The date is part of a series of free Young Persons’ Concerts sponsored by the group Music for Youth. Geared toward a 5-to-18 audience, the 50-minute program will begin at 2 p.m. and feature works by Beethoven, Gershwin, Bulgarian composer Peter Hristoskov and others. While the concert is free for families with children, adults without children who want to attend are asked to make a goodwill donation. No tickets or registration are required.
“We’re excited to come up, my pianist and I,” Hristova says with genuine sincerity, elaborating that she loves to play for, and work with, children. “When I play with orchestras and (have) solo concerts, I always do some sort of outreach.”
At the Pequot Library, Hristova will offer the audience “a very varied program” that also includes some Bach—Beethoven and Bach are her favorite composers—along with a short Bulgarian piece, “just to give them an idea of where I’m from and the music there.”
In a nod to the youthfulness of some audience members, she will perform short snippets. “Nothing’s going to be longer than five minutes,” she says, and Hristova will put the works in context by speaking before each piece.
“Sometimes they’re really engaged,” the violinist says of her youngest audiences. She likes to play a guessing game about how old her violin is—its 359 years old as of 2014—and she also sometimes asks children to guess how old she is.
“Once someone said 150,” Hristova says with a laugh.
When time allows, which may not happen at the Pequot, the violinist likes to have children come up in groups of two or three, so she can “teach them a beat pattern and have them conduct me.”
As she heads into the Connecticut appearance at the opening of a new year, Hristova—already armed with critical acclaim, prizes, competition wins and international demand—is clearly ascendant.
The Carnegie Hall performance of Mendelssohn will be a catalyst for higher notes, and her special connection to New Zealand will continue later in the year.
The bond began when she won First Prize in the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition there, and then made a critically acclaimed concert tour of New Zealand, and it has only deepened. Hristova will go back for a fifth time this spring/summer for performances.
The violinist-on-the-rise calls herself “very lucky” in the arc of her life and career. Also lucky are Connecticut residents savvy enough to see how special—how bella—is the opportunity to see a world-class talent in a lovely, intimate venue like the Pequot Library.
Those who attend the concert have an opportunity to register for free post-concert master classes for advanced students on violin by calling (203) 938-3843 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information in general, see the website musicforyouth.net.
And for more on why Hristova is so entrancing—why The New York Times praises her “fire” and The Strad calls her playing a “showstopper”—her bio fills in the picture nicely: