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Violist Ayn Balija leads a musically rich life performing and teaching throughout the country. She joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 2007 as Lecturer of Viola. Along with maintaining a studio, she also serves as the principal violist of the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia and is the violist of the Rivanna String Quartet. In 2015-16, Ms. Balija also served as the interim viola instructor at James Madison University and in 2004 as an adjunct professor at Lorain County Community College.
Ms. Balija performs solo, chamber, and orchestral works around the country. She has soloed with Max Rabinovitsj and the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra in Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante in 2009 as well as the Milhaud Concerto for Viola with the Tennessee Governor’s School Faculty Orchestra in 2015. For 12 years, Ms. Balija was a section member of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus championing new works and recording under the Summit label. She regularly substitutes for the Richmond Symphony, Williamsburg Symphony, and Roanoke Symphony. In 2005, Ms. Balija was invited to tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony on their East Coast Tour including a performance at Carnegie Hall. An enthusiastic supporter of new music in chamber music, she was part of a consortium for Fernghetti, a new work by Libby Larsen for clarinet, piano, and viola, and performances of works such composers as Michael Daugherty, Kenji Bunch, Matthew Burtner, and Judith Shatin.
A devoted pedagogue, Ms. Balija teaches privately throughout the community. She has maintained a small private studio and taught as a Boyd Tinsley fellow, providing private instruction to musically gifted low-income students in the Charlottesville City School system. In 2014, Ms. Balija created Violapalooza, an annual, all-viola day, featuring guest viola artists teaching and performing. Guests have included Kim Kashkashian, George Taylor, and Amadi Azikiwe. She has also led masterclasses and given recitals at Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, West Virginia University, and the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Ms. Balija has also presented at the American String Teachers Association and been published on the American Viola Society’s Teacher’s Toolbox page. In 2017 she presented a lecture recital entitled, “Duo Magic: Chamber Music in the Private Lesson” at the 44th International Viola Congress in Wellington, NZ.
Ms. Balija has performed and taught over the summer at Tennessee Governors School for the Arts (TN), Yachats Summer Music Festival (OR), North Carolina Chamber Music Festival (NC), Charlottesville Opera (VA), Staunton Music Festival (VA), Beyond the Notes (VA), and the Belvoir Camp for Girls (MA).
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. She has studied with Peter Slowik, James Dunham, Jeffrey Irvine, Karen Tuttle, Victoria Chiang, and Amadi Azikiwe. Her principal mentors have been Peter Slowik, Jeffrey Irvine, and Karen Tuttle.