Embracing the new – David Nebel

Violinist David Nebel shares with Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic a passion for contemporary music

David Nebel is delighted to be back on stage with Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on their ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour in March 2019, after they came together in July 2018 in Bad Kissingen, Germany, to give the world premiere of Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto. ‘I had an awesome time last year,’ says the 22-year-old Swiss violinist. ‘It was great to play alongside such talented musicians. They are not just doing a brilliant job, but they’re having so much fun too, and when you join them as a soloist you really feel that.’

David is equally enthusiastic about introducing Gediminas’s concerto, which was written for him by the composer, to a wider audience. ‘It is powerful, physical music, infused with a natural strength, but wonderfully atmospheric too,’ he says. ‘And with its unusual two-movement, two-cadenza from, it’s a fascinating piece to listen to.’ David collaborated with Gediminas during the composition process, and says: ‘The concerto feels very much a part of me, because it’s the first time I’ve played a piece which I’ve worked so closely on with the composer. The experience has made me hungry to explore more contemporary music.’

David gets to satisfy that hunger on this tour by performing two other contemporary works – Kristjan Järvi’s Aurora and Pēteris Vasks’s Lonely Angel. Of the Vasks, he says: ‘It invokes a sense of nature and landscape, a true Nordic atmosphere. There is an otherworldly, spiritual dimension to the long, soaring, high-register lines for solo violin, and this is complemented by beautiful orchestral textures.’

The opportunity to collaborate with Kristjan is one that David embraces wholeheartedly. As well as partnering in concert last year, the pair have recorded Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, and Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra. ‘Kristjan is a role model for me, as a musician and as a leader,’ says the violinist. ‘He is making music at such a high level, with such a cool attitude. The way he approaches contemporary music, the way he motivates young musicians and gets them not just to play the scores but to memorise them, to live them and to love the experience – it’s the complete package, and is so inspiring.’

David Nebel was born 1996 in Zurich, and started to play the violin at the age of five. His exceptional talent became apparent very early: ‘A prodigy with a promising perspective’ (Wunderkind mit Zukunftsperspektiven) was the headline in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. David first attended the Conservatory of Zurich and later studied with Boris Kuschnir in Vienna and Yair Kless in Graz. Since 2013 he has been studying with Alexander Gilman, the leader of the LGT Young Soloists. David was a founding member of this string ensemble of highly gifted musicians, with whom he made numerous tours through Europe and Asia over more than five years. In 2014 David was the youngest prize winner of the renowned Valsesia Musica Violin Competition in Italy. This was followed in 2015 by the first prize of the Istvàn Kertész Competition in Switzerland, together with a CHF 10,000 scholarship. In January 2017, together with double bassist Dušan Kostić he won the competition of the Radio-Television Belgrade Symphony Orchestra for young soloists, playing Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante.

In July 2018 David made his debut at the Kissinger Sommer festival with Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, performing the world premiere of Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto. As a soloist, David has already appeared on many major stages, such as the Liederhalle Stuttgart, the Casino Bern, the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna, the Gasteig in Munich, the Shenzhen Concert Hall, Cape Town City Hall and the Philharmonic Hall in Chernihiv.

David’s upcoming album releases include a recording of Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic under Kristjan Järvi; as well as Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Kristjan’s ‘Nebula’ with the London Symphony Orchestra, also conducted by Kristjan.

David is a 2018 Fellow of the Young Artists Foundation in Germany. He plays on a 1707 Antonio Stradivari violin, loaned by a private foundation.