Alexander Balanescu is one of the most visionary and exciting violinists of our time as well as a prolific composer. With a repertoire centred in contemporary and new music he is always looking to the future.
Balanescu was born in Romania and at the age of seven went to the Special School for Music, in Bucharest. His teachers in Romania were Dolly Koritzer, Garabet Avakian and Stephan Gheorghiu. Studies continued at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem with Iair Kless, London's Trinity College with Bela Katona and from 1975-79 at the Julliard School, New York with Dorothy Delay, where he also took part in master classes with Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir and Robert Mann.
He returned to London and begun working with many of the major contemporary music groups of the early 1980's included Capricorn. Music Projects, Matrix, Gemini, Dream tiger and the London Sinfonietta. He also began his collaborations in the world of dance playing Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Crumb's Black Angels in Ballet Rambert¹s Mercury Ensemble and Bach Partitas and Nyman's And do they do for London Contemporary Dance Theatre.
In 1979 Balanescu became leader of the Michael Nyman Ensemble and toured with this group around the world for 15 years. During the same period he was also a member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble.
Balanescu was in the Arditti Quartet for 4 years before forming his own quartet in 1987. The Balanescu Quartet has commissioned over 25 works to date beginning with Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, Kevin Volans and Balanescu himself, before going on to include the non-classical writers John Lurie, David Byrne, Keith Tippett, Carla Bley, Rabih Abou Khalil, recording with Spiritualized and recording and touring with the Pet Shop Boys. The huge success of the quartet has led to tours to the USA and European performances have included festival appearances at Roskilde, Poori (Finland), Sziget (Budapest), Sphinks (Belgium), Ars Electronica (Linz), North Sea, Bath, Vale of Glamorgan and Huddersfield.
Recent collaborations as a composer/performer include in dance with Merryl Tankard, Pina Bausch, Rosemary Lee, Suzy Blok, Johann Ulrich, Phillipe Saire and Virgilio Sieni and in Theatre Productions at Theatre de la Place, Liege, Belgrade State Theatre, Cabaret Dromesko, Rennes, and Watford Palace Theatre. Balanescu's credits as a composer of film and TV music include the feature films Angels and Insects (dir. Philip Haas), Le Poulpe (dir.Guillaume Nicloux), Il Partigiano Johnny (dir. Guido Chiesa) and Eisenstein (dir. Renny Bartlett), TV documentaries Dancing through Darkness (Theresa Griffith) and Spinoza (Chris Spencer) and over 20 animation films.
Balanescu's solo recital programmes, most recently given in London, Napoli, Linz, Budapest, Gyor, Szeged and Bucharest, include the work of Nyman, Sciarrino, Reich, Glass and Balanescu. In 1996, he performed at the Meltdown Festival as a soloist in a selection of Duke Ellington pieces before performing Korngold's Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller. 2002 saw Balanescu on tour in the UK with Philip Glass in Screens with performances given at the RFH, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Salisbury Festival. The collaboration with Glass will continue with the commission of a viola concerto in 2004.
One can find recordings of Balanescu's original work on his albums for MUTE ('Possessed', 'Luminitza', 'Angels and Insects') as well as his tribute to YMO, 'East meets East' (Con-Sipio) his score for the italian war film 'Il Partigiano Johnny' (Virgin ,Italy) and collaborations with electronica artists 'Lume, Lume' (Staubgold) as well as guesting on albums by To Rococo Rot, Spiritualized, Rabih Abou Khalil, The Pet Shop Boys.
Balanescu recently premiered a ground breaking project in collaboration with the austrian video artist Klaus Obermaier, and featuring the Balanescu Quartet. His work is based on the songs and voice of the legendary Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase, and it was performed for the first time at the Art Rock festival in Brittany.