Ayn Balija, Viola

The Elizabeth W. Gatewood Chair

atb3y [at] virginia [dot] edu

Balija 2015 headshot 1Violist Ayn Balija leads a musically rich life performing and teaching throughout the country.

Ms. Balija is the Lecturer of Viola of the University of Virginia. She provides individualized instruction to her students, cultivates community engagement by inviting special guests, organizes cultivation and networking events for violists of all ages and maintains a rigorous performing schedule.

Blending her love of orchestral repertoire with student mentorship, Ms. Balija serves as the Principal Viola of the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia.  For 12 years, she performed with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, a chamber orchestra in Ohio known for its performances of commissioned new works and promotion of rising stars.  As a member of the group she recorded many new works on the Summit Label.  She is often asked to sub with the Richmond Symphony, Williamsburg Symphonia and other regional orchestras.  In 2005, she was invited to play with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on its East Coast Tour.

At UVA Ayn is the violist of the Rivanna String Quartet, performing and coaching student groups each semester.  Summers also bring opportunities  to perform solo and chamber music repertoire. She has been invited to the Yachats Summer Music Festival in Oregon and is a guest faculty member at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in Murfreesboro.

To Ayn Balija, every educational opportunity is a chance to further the development of a well-rounded person. Her philosophy centers on guiding students to engage in music with inquisitiveness and awareness.  Last year, she and her students collaborated with the Kluge-Rhue Aboriginal Art Museum at the University of Virginia and TEDx to showcase the unique combination of the ancient didgeridoo and the modern string quartet.  She promotes the knowledge and study of the viola through events such as VIOLAPALOOZA, cultivates commonwealth viola collaborations as the President of the Virginia Viola Society and has been a presenter at the American String Teachers Association National Conference.   Ms. Balija continues her teaching outside the U.Va through the private instruction of middle and high school students and outreach performances at county schools in a five-county region.   She is also regularly invited to teach and give masterclasses at festivals and schools around the country.

Ayn Balija holds a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Masters of Music from The Cleveland Institute of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from James Madison University. Her principal mentors have been Peter Slowik, Jeffrey Irvine, Amadi Azikiwe and Karen Tuttle.

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