Swiss conductor Stefan Blunier studied the piano, horn, composition and conducting in his Swiss hometown of Berne and at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany. After first engagements at the local opera houses in Mainz, Augsburg and Mannheim, as well as with the Belgian National Orchestra, he became Music Director at the Darmstadt State Theatre. From 2008 to 2016 he served as Music Director at Opera Bonn, and simultaneously – from 2010 to 2013 – as principal guest conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra. Further engagements in the field of opera took him to Geneva, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Oslo and, as a regular guest conductor, Deutsche Oper Berlin. Apart from his work at opera houses, he has conducted concerts at numerous venues around the world, including Tokyo, Taiwan, Frankfurt, Porto, Leeds, Stuttgart, Bratislava, Budapest, Malmö, São Paulo and Belgium. In 2021 Stefan Blunier becomes chief conductor of the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, Portugal.
Gergely Madaras has been Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège since 2019. He regularly appears as a guest conductor with orchestras including the BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Symphony, Hallé, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra Nazionale della RAI, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hungarian National Philharmonic and Hungarian Radio orchestras, the Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen and Luxembourg Philharmonic orchestras as well as with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Münchener Kammerorchester and Academy of Ancient Music. As an opera conductor he has appeared at the English National Opera, Dutch National Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève and Hungarian State Opera. While his repertoire is rooted in the classical and romantic periods, he maintains a close relationship with new music. He collaborated with composers George Benjamin, Péter Eötvös, György Kurtág, Tristan Murail, Luca Francesconi, Philippe Boesmans and Pierre Boulez.
The Finnish pianist Antti Siirala has established himself as one of the finest pianists of his generation. His rich palette of sound colours, his differentiated and songful phrasing and expressive intelligence are praised frequently. Antti Siirala is the winner of numerous international competitions, including the Leeds International Piano Competition. In 1997 he won the International Beethoven Piano Competition Vienna as the youngest laureate in its history. This resulted in the performance of all Beethoven piano works at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in the following years and a focus on Beethoven in Siirala’s repertoire.
He performs with renowned conductors like Herbert Blomstedt, François-Xavier Roth, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sakari Oramo, and with orchestras like the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bamberger Symphoniker, the Radio Symphony Orchestras of HR, NDR, SWR and WDR, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Wiener Symphoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra London, Residentie Orkest, Götenborgs Symfoniker, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo. He regularly performs chamber music with partners like Carolin Widmann, Baiba Skride, Lawrence Power, Tanja Tetzlaff, Jan Vogler and Sharon Kam.
Milestones in his career were recitals in the piano series of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Lucerne Festival and at the Ruhr Piano Festival, at concert halls like Cologne’s Philharmonie, London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York or Zurich’s Tonhalle. Furthermore, Antti Siirala was artist in residence for three years at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, featured in its series Junge Wilde.
Recent highlights were his debut with the Belgrade Philharmonic with the Grieg Piano Concerto and the German premiere of Thomas Adès Three Berceuses with Lawrence Power at the Moritzburg Festival. The upcoming season will see Antti return to the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra Mainz under Eva Ollikainen and to the Prague Symphony Orchestra under Pietari Inkinen.
CD recordings, for which he received the Editor’s Choice Award of Gramophone Magazine several times, were published by Sony (Schubert’s Trout Quintet with newly composed variations) and Naxos (works by Brahms and Schubert transcriptions). Other recordings include the last three Beethoven sonatas (AVI-Music) and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (SONY, with The Knights, Colin Jacobsen and Jan Vogler).
Antti Siirala is professor for piano at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich.
Rena Shereshevskaya is a graduate of the Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory and a postgraduate of this institution, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), a laureate of the Ippolitov-Ivanov International Prize in Musical Education and an Honorary Professor of the Moscow Ippolitov-lvanov Musical and Pedagogical Institute. She taught at the Central Special Music School for Gifted Children at the Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory for 12 years before joining the Ippolitov-lvanov Music Institute as a professor of piano and head of a piano chair. In 1993 she was first invited as a guest professor to France, where she has been working ever since. At present she is a professor of piano at the Paris Alfred Cortot Superior Music School and at the Rueil-Malmaison Conservatory. She gives masterclasses all over the world (France, USA, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Monaco, China, amongst others) and serves as a member or head of jury at international piano competitions. Many of her students became prize-winners of major competitions, for example Rémi Geniet (2nd Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, Brussels, 2013), Lucas Debargue (4th Prize and the Special Prize of the Association of Music Critics at the 15th Tchaikovsky Competition, Moscow, 2015), Alexandre Kantorow (1st Prize and the Grand Prix at the 16th Tchaikovsky Competition, Moscow, 2019). At the same time, Rena Shereshevskaya continues to play chamber music with internationally renowned musicians and in duo with her daughter Victoria, a mezzo-soprano. Moreover, she is the artistic director of a festival she conceived, Artistic Dynasties and Families.
An active concert pianist, Pietro De Maria has played as soloist with the best known orchestras, with conductors of the stature of Roberto Abbado, Gary Bertini, Myung-Whun Chung, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Daniele Gatti, Alan Gilbert, Eliahu Inbal, Marek Janowski, Ton Koopman, Michele Mariotti, Ingo Metzmacher, Gianandrea Noseda, Corrado Rovaris, Kwamé Ryan, Yutaka Sado and Sándor Végh.
Born in Venice in 1967, De Maria studied piano with Giorgio Vianello and Gino Gorini. Revealing a precocious talent, he won First Prize at the Alfred Cortot International Piano Competition in Milan at the age of 13. He graduated from the Conservatory of Venice and continued his studies with Maria Tipo at the Conservatory of Geneva, where he obtained the Premier Prix de Virtuosité with the highest honours in 1988.
His repertory ranges from Bach to Ligeti and he is the first Italian pianist to have played Chopin’s complete piano works in six public concerts. More recently, he has been focusing on Bach, presenting both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier as well as the Goldberg Variations in his concerts.
He has recorded Chopin’s complete piano works, The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Goldberg Variations for Decca, receiving important acknowledgments from international publications of prestige such as Diapason, International Piano, MusicWeb-International and Pianiste.
De Maria has also recorded three Sonatas by Clementi for Naxos, a live recital at the Miami International Piano Festival for VAI Audio, Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano with Enrico Dindo for Decca and a CD with selected piano works by Fano for Brilliant Classics.
Pietro De Maria is Academic of Santa Cecilia and is a professor at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg. He is a member of the Scuola di Maria Tipo teaching team organized by the Academy of Music in Pinerolo.
Coming from a rich tradition, pianist Andreas Haefliger won many plaudits for his Beethoven Perspectives recitals on disc and at major halls and festivals, and is also much sought-after as a chamber musician. Born into a distinguished Swiss musical family, he grew up in Germany, going on to study at the Juilliard School in New York. He was quickly recognised as a pianist of the first rank, and engagements with major US orchestras followed swiftly – the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh, Chicago and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestras among them. In his native Europe he appeared with the great orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Symphony. Andreas Haefliger is well recognised as a superb recitalist, making his New York debut in 1988. He has ongoing regular relationships with the Lucerne and Edinburgh Festivals, Vienna Konzerthaus, and other major halls across North America and Asia. Moreover, he is a regular guest at London’s Wigmore Hall with his Perspectives series, in which he performs the complete piano works of Beethoven alongside works by other composers from Mozart to Ligeti. This series has formed the focus of his solo recital appearances and recordings in recent years, the latest CD being volume 7 of the corresponding series released by BIS. Since Coronavirus struck in March 2020, Andreas Haefliger resides in the Swiss mountains and has used this period of enforced reflection to work on Beethoven’s monumental Hammerklavier Sonata, culminating in an art movie of his performance in the Alpine surroundings. The film is being taken up by cinemas and TV stations and received its world premiere streaming at the Aspen Festival 2020. The world premiere recording of Dieter Ammann’s Gran Toccata with Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic, coupled with concerti by Bartók and Ravel was released on BIS in October 2020. The first live performance of the Ammann was given at the BBC Proms 2019 with the BBC Symphony and Sakari Oramo, closely followed by the North American premiere with the Boston Symphony and Susanna Mälkki. It was co-commissioned for Andreas Haefliger by Boston together with the Vienna Konzerthaus, Munich Philharmonic, Lucerne Festival and Taipei Symphony.
Born in New York City to a musical family, Mr. Fiore received his earliest musical training from his father, a pianist and choral director, and his mother, a singer. His family moved to Seattle, where he studied piano, cello and other string instruments. Mr. Fiore began his professional musical activities at age 14 as a pianist and coach for the Seattle Opera’s annual production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, a job which he continued for six summers. He later attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. In 1981, he joined the staff of the Santa Fé Opera, where he developed an affinity for the operas of Richard Strauss.
Within a short period of time, he became a prized assistant in three of North America’s most respected companies: the San Francisco, Chicago Lyric and Metropolitan Operas. In the summer of 1986 he went to Europe, assisting Zubin Mehta for Die Meistersinger in Florence, and then to the Bayreuth Festival, where he worked with Daniel Barenboim on Tristan und Isolde.
During this period he also freelanced as an assistant to the great Leonard Bernstein. John Fiore made his debut at the San Francisco Opera conducting Gounod’s Faust in 1986, thus beginning his own conducting career.
In 1990 he embarked on an international symphonic career as well, making debuts on three continents. Since then Mr. Fiore has continued to build his repertoire and orchestral relationships. In the summer of 1996, stepping in for Robert Shaw, Mr. Fiore made a critically acclaimed debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl conducting Verdi’s Requiem. In North America, he has since conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and New York Chamber Symphony, to name but a few. In the United States, he has appeared frequently at the Metropolitan Opera as well, leading over one hundred performances of nearly a dozen operas, and he has long enjoyed relationships with both the Chicago Lyric, San Francisco, and Santa Fe Operas, and also has been to the Houston Grand Opera to conduct Tannhäuser.
Mr. Fiore has got orchestral engagements all over Europe and has been the Music Director of several leading opera companies including the Norwegian Opera, where he served from 2009 through 2015 as the institution’s first music director in over a decade. He was also formerly Music Director of the Deutsche Oper-am-Rhein (1998-2009), where he kept an intensive and extensive schedule conducting in the company’s two houses in the neighboring Rhineland cities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg. Concurrent with his appointment at the Deutsche Oper-am-Rhein, Mr. Fiore was also General Music Director of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, and led full seasons of symphonic concert repertoire.
Pianist, conductor, and educator Vladimir Feltsman is one of the most versatile and consistently interesting musicians of our time. Born in Moscow in 1952, Mr. Feltsman debuted with the Moscow Philharmonic at the age of 11. In 1969, he entered the Moscow Conservatory to study piano under the guidance of Professor Jacob Flier. He also studied conducting at both the Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatories. In 1971, Mr. Feltsman won the Grand Prix at the Marguerite Long-Thibaud International Piano Competition in Paris. Extensive tours throughout the former Soviet Union, Europe, and Japan followed.
In 1979, because of his growing discontent with the restrictions on artistic freedom under the Soviet regime, Mr. Feltsman signaled his intention to emigrate by applying for an exit visa. In response, he was immediately banned from performing in public and his recordings were suppressed. After eight years of virtual artistic exile, he was finally granted permission to leave the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Mr. Feltsman was warmly greeted at the White House, where he performed his first recital in North America. That same year, his debut at Carnegie Hall established him as a major pianist on the American and international scene. Since then, Mr. Feltsman has performed with major American and European orchestras and appeared at the most prestigious concert venues and music festivals worldwide. His vast repertoire encompasses music from the Baroque to the twenty-first-century.
Mr. Feltsman expressed his lifelong devotion to the music of J.S. Bach in a cycle of concerts that presented the major clavier works of the composer. His project Masterpieces of the Russian Underground unfolded a panorama of Russian contemporary music through an unprecedented survey of piano and chamber works by fourteen different composers from Shostakovich to the present day. In the fall of 2006, Mr. Feltsman performed all of Mozart’s piano sonatas in New York at the Mannes School of Music on a specially built replica of an eighteenth-century Walter fortepiano. His most recent project, Russian Experiment, included works of lesser-known Russian composers of the first half of the twentieth century and was presented at the Aspen Music Festival in 2017.
A dedicated educator of young musicians, Mr. Feltsman holds the Distinguished Chair of Professor of Piano at the State University of New York, New Paltz, and is a member of the piano faculty at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the International Festival-Institute, PianoSummer at New Paltz, a three-week-long intensive training program for advanced piano students that attracts major young talent from all over the world. In 2012 Vladimir and his wife Haewon established the Feltsman Piano Foundation, which helps young musicians to realize their potential and advance their careers.
Released on the Sony Classical and Nimbus labels, Mr. Feltsman’s extensive discography includes more than 60 CDs and is still growing.
Mr. Feltsman is the author of Piano Lessons, a book published in 2019 that presents insights drawn from a lifetime of devotion to music and addresses such vitally important topics as practicing, performing, learning, and recording.
Zlata Chochieva first came to international attention with her highly-praised recordings of works by Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Displaying a deep affinity with these composers, combined with probing honesty and imagination, they have established her as a distinctive voice amongst pianists. Hailed by Gramophone as “the possessor of a comprehensive technique who brings an inner glow to every bar”, Zlata Chochieva has been regularly appearing at many prestigious concert halls, most notably at Herkulessaal Munich, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philharmonie de Paris, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Konzerthaus Berlin, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Casa da Música Porto, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and Grand Hall of Saint Petersburg Philharmonia.
She has performed with numerous major orchestras, including the Russian National Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. Conductors Zlata has enjoyed working with include Mikhail Pletnev, Simon Gaudenz, Terje Mikkelsen, Charles Olivieri-Munroe, Tugan Sokhiev and Vladimir Spivakov.
Highlights of the previous season include her Wigmore Hall debut, as well as performances in Russia with the Svetlanov State Orchestra and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia. Furthermore, she was guest artist in the Serate Musicali series in Milan, at the Berliner Klavierfestival and at Zaubersee Festival Lucerne.
In 2019/20 Zlata will be appearing as Artist in Focus in three different programmes with the Aachen Symphony Orchestra as well as making her debut with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Solo debuts include the Vienna Konzerthaus, Vancouver Chopin Society, Brussels Chopin Days, as well as a second Wigmore Hall recital and various appearances at festivals across Europe and the US. A return to the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra will see her participate in the orchestra’s Tchaikovsky Festival with performances of his piano concerto no. 1 and piano trio.
Over the years Zlata has acquired many international competition prizes, including Szymanovsky International Competition (Poland), Tivoli Piano Competition (Denmark), Mozart Prize at ARD Competition (Germany), First prizes at Frechilla-Zuloaga Competition (Spain) and Alberto Fano Piano Competition (Italy) and Silver Medal at the First International Piano Competition of Santa Catarina (Brazil), where she was also declared Best Performer of Chopin and Audience Favourite. She has been regularly invited to leading music festivals, including the Miami International Piano Festival, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival (as a Gilmore Rising Star in the 2017-18 season), the Rarities of Piano Music in Husum, the Lugano festival Il Progetto Martha Argerich and the Lucerne Festival.
Her Chopin Complete Etudes disc for Piano Classics was selected as an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, and included in Gramophone’s list of 10 greatest Chopin recordings: “It is certainly one of the most consistently inspired, masterfully executed and beautiful-sounding versions I can recall.” (Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone). Her 2015 CD of the Complete Etudes-Tableaux of Rachmaninoff has likewise earned critical acclaim and been nominated for the German Record Critics’ Award.
In 1993 Ricardo Castro received the first prize at the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in England, becoming the only Latin American to win the competition since its foundation. 20 years later, he became the first Brazilian to receive an Honorary Membership from the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Ricardo Castro revealed a clear interest and ease to play the piano at the age of three, listening to his older sister’s classes with their aunt. At the age of five, having attracted the attention of Esther Cardoso, a Marguerite Long fellow, he was exceptionally accepted to join the School of Music and Performing Arts of the Federal University of Bahia.
In 1984 Ricardo Castro began his musical studies in Europe, joining the Superior Conservatory of Music in Geneva in the virtuoso class of Maria Tipo and the conducting class of Arpad Gerecz. In 1987 he graduated from the Geneva Conservatory with the Premier Prix de Virtuosité avec Distinction et Félicitations du Jury. That same year, he was the ex-aequo winner of the ARD International Competition in Munich and in 1988 he became a prize winner at the Géza Anda Competition. Shortly after he completed his piano studies in Paris with Dominique Merlet.
Ricardo was invited to play concertos with major orchestras such as the Gewandhaus of Leipzig, Tonhalle Zurich, BBC London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, City of Birmingham Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Mozarteum of Salzburg and many others. Among his stage partners are Sir Simon Rattle, Martha Argerich, Leif Segerstam, Kazimierz Kord, Midori and Antonio Meneses.
In 2003, he started a piano duo with Maria João Pires, performing a series of recitals throughout Europe, followed by a CD with solo and four-hands works by Schubert, which was released by Deutsche Grammophon. He recorded several other CDs for BMG-Arte Nova, all of which were acclaimed by specialized critics.
In 2007, Ricardo created NEOJIBA (State Centers for Youth and Children Orchestras of Bahia), a pioneering program in Brazil inspired by El Sistema in Venezuela that has benefited more than 10.000 children, adolescents and young people in Bahia. General director at NEOJIBA, Ricardo Castro is also Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Youth Orchestra of Bahia, the first Brazilian youth orchestra to perform in Europe. Since its foundation, the orchestra has played hundreds of concerts in Brazil and on seven international tours to the most prestigious concert halls in Europe and USA.
In September 2020 Ricardo Castro was nominated professor at the Haute École de Musique de Genève, where he will act as head of the keyboard department from September 2021. He also teaches piano at the Haute École de Musique Vaud Valais Fribourg in Switzerland and at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, in Italy, where in 2018 he created a course for “Conducting from the keyboard”.