Bella Hristova, violin

Christmas Eve, 2011

New York String Orchestra and director Jamie Laredo

New York String Orchestra and director Jamie Laredo

(Reprinted with permission from

It was exactly seven years ago when I was first a participant in the String Seminar. I was sitting third chair of first violins with Lexi Preucil as my stand partner. Every now and then, Jaime (Laredo) would give the two of us a look after we played too many "unique" fingerings, usually involving high harmonics...  

The soloist for the Christmas Eve concert was Gil Shaham, playing the Dvorak Romance and Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso. By the second day of rehearsals Jaime told the orchestra that Gil couldn't be there until the day before the concert and it would be great if someone from the orchestra could play the solo pieces during the next rehearsal. He asked if anyone knew them and wanted to volunteer. Allie Osborne raised her hand saying she knew the Rondo Capriccioso and could do it, but nobody was volunteering for the Dvorak Romance. Finally, I raised my hand and said that I didn't know the piece but would be happy to learn it (overnight!!!!) if someone could get me the music. By the end of that rehearsal, there was a brand new copy of the Dvorak Romance waiting for me. Once I looked through the music and it hit me that I would have to play this piece TOMORROW, I called my teacher Ida and said in a voicemail "Um....I sort of volunteered to learn the Dvorak Romance overnight and rehearse it with the orchestra tomorrow...hope that's ok with you..." That night, when everyone else was enjoying Christmas time in New York, I was back in the hotel room frantically scribbling fingerings and bowings in my music - anything that could help me the next day. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of the orchestra as the opening tutti started. I can’t put into words how magical, meaningful and memorable that rehearsal was to me. It still stands out very vividly in my memory. 

It’s now seven years later and tonight I will be playing the Christmas Eve concert at Carnegie Hall - the Bach Double with Jaime, as well as the Dvorak Romance and Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso. When the opening tutti of the Dvorak started in the first rehearsal a few days ago, I teared up a little. So much about that rehearsal was the same as seven years ago yet I’ve changed so much since then. It was very reflective somehow... It has been just as exciting and special rehearsing those pieces with the New York String Orchestra and even more so this time, because I get to play the concert! I just want to smile the whole time I’m playing on stage. It is by far the best Christmas present I could ever wish for and if someone had told me seven years ago that I’d be the soloist tonight I don’t know what I would’ve felt....probably disbelief.

Watch another fantastic performance from Bella Hristova, who will be joining us on January 23rd for a performance of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto