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Sonoma violinist advances to Tchaikovsky finals

Violinist Nigel Armstrong of Sonoma advanced to the finals of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition in St. Petersburg last week, the most prestigious violin competition in the world.

In the finals this week, Armstrong will compete against four other violinists from Russia, South Korea, Israel and the U.S. for the top violin prize.

In addition to advancing to the finals, the 21-year-old violinist was recognized during the semifinals for his performance of John Corigliano's "Stomp," a portion of which he played with the bow arm behind his back.

Armstrong, who enjoys playing fiddle and jazz violin, said he picked up that trick from the old-time fiddlers at the annual Cloverdale Old-time Fiddle Festival.

Armstrong will play Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra at 8 a.m. PDT on Monday, June 27, and Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra at 8:45 a.m. PDT Tuesday, June 28, in the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. The performances will be webcast live at http://pitch.paraclassics.com/#/live/violin.

The awards will be broadcast at 9 a.m. PDT Thursday, June 30. The awards ceremony will be held that day in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and winners will perform in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory on July 1 and the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall on July 2.

In Sonoma, Nigel's first teacher was Leta Davis, whose students are known to this day as the "Little Fiddlers." Armstrong later studied with Zaven Melikian and Lee Lin, both of the San Francisco Conservatory, before going to the Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts in Boston and then Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, where he graduated in May.

The International Tchaikovsky Competition is one of the major events in the international music community and also includes competitions for pianists, cellists and singers.

Participation by previous generations of musicians, including Dmitri Shostakovich, David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich, has enabled scores of young people from many countries to gain international prominence.

For more information, go to tchaikovsky-competition.com and nigelarmstrong.net.

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