“I’m truly honored and thankful to have made it into this level of the competition,” the 21-year-old said.
The quadrennial competition is regarded as the most prestigious in the world – the Olympics of classical music.
On the way to the finals, Armstrong won a jury award for his flashy performance of the John Corigliano piece “Stomp,” during which he employed a move he said he learned at the Cloverdale Fiddle Contest.
“Who knew that Cloverdale’s old-time style fiddling celebration would be carried forward over the years and miles to touch the most prestigious classical music competition in the world?,” wondered his father, Marc Armstrong.
Armstrong is a recent graduate of The Colburn School in Los Angeles, which “is very proud of Nigel’s international success and achievement,” said school President Sel Kardan. “His dedication and talent have now been recognized at the highest level possible.”
In the finals in Russia this week, Armstrong performed two pieces for a jury that included two past winners, and renowned soloists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Maxim Vengerov.
No American has even won the violin competition outright. The last American to win a gold medal of any kind was Deborah Voigt, for female voice, in 1990.
Armstrong amassed $10,250 in prize money during the competition.