PHILIPPE GRAFFIN´s individual style of playing and outstanding achievements have placed him among the finest of French violinists. A student of the late Joseph Gingold and Philipp Hirschhorn, Graffin’s interpretations of his native repertoire compelled Gramophone magazine to proclaim ”his understanding of the idiom is second to none,” while his charismatic and imaginative performances of the mainstream and contemporary repertoire have been praised throughout the world by audiences and reviewers alike.
Philippe’s ever-questing mind led him to rediscover original settings of classics such as Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s Tzigane. He has also brought back to life the forgotten violin concertos of Fauré, Saint-Saëns and the English composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Frederick Cliffe, as well as championing rare sonatas such as the Bruno Walter, thereby expanding the repertoire.
Philippe has shared the stage with some of the greatest musicians of our time: Lord Menuhin, Rostropovich, Martha Argerich, Sergei Commisiona, Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Additionally he regularly partners the cellists Gary Hoffman, Truls Mork, pianists Pascal Devoyon, Stephen Kovacevich, Claire Désert, Olli Mustonen and the Chilingirian Quartet to name but a few.
As concerto soloist, he has performed all over Europe with orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, The Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Hague’s Residentie Orkest, Gothenburg Symphony, Czech Philharmonic and the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 he performed the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms and in 2010 at the Three Choirs Festival he will play the Elgar Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Norrington to mark the centenary of the work’s première.
Philippe Graffin is the founder and artistic director of ”Consonances”, the international chamber music festival of St Nazaire, France and is invited regularly to appear at the major chamber music festivals across Europe and the United States. He has also appeared in the BBC Proms.
Contemporary music forms an essential part of Philippe’s interests. A number of composers have written for him. Most recently Rodion Shchedrin has written a concerto for Graffin, Concerto Parlando for violin, trumpet and strings of which he has given the first performances in France, Russia and the UK in a London performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Lithuanian composer Vytautas Barkauskas received the 2004 Lithuanian National Prize for Art for his violin concerto ”Jeux”, which he dedicated to Philippe. Graffin also premiered Barkauskas’s Duo Concertante for violin and viola with Nobuko Imai at the Vilnius Festival. David Matthews wrote his 2nd violin concerto for Philippe and Yves Prin, Vassili Lobanov and Philippe Hersant have written solo pieces for him. This year Philippe Hersant wrote Rhapsodie, a piece for violin and luthéal. Graffin gave the world première in September 09 in Saint-Nazaire.
Philippe has made numerous landmark recordings. For Hyperion his recordings include the Ysaÿe sonatas, the complete Chausson chamber music, the three Saint-Saëns violin concertos , a collection of rare French works for violin and orchestra and rare sonatas of Pierre de Breville and Joseph Canteloube for Hyperion. For Avie Records recordings include the world première recording of the Violin Concerto of Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a recital disc of Debussy, Enesco & Ravel, Elgar’s Violin Concerto, coupled with Chausson’s Poème in original manuscript versions, shortlisted for the Gramophone awards and a double CD of Mozart duos and the Sinfonia Concertante with Nobuko Imai. He has also recorded Miklos Rosza’s Sinfonia Concertante with Raphael Wallfisch for ASV. Graffin’s most recent recordings include a virtuoso recital CD ‘Hungarian Dances’ on Onyx Classics and a highly successful recording of rare works for violin and orchestra of Frederick Delius for Dutton Vocalion. (Editor’s choice Classic FM Magazine, Nov.09). Forthcoming releases include the world première recording of Shchedrin’s Concerto Parlando and a Schumann CD, both on Onyx Classics.
Last season included returns to the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Lithuanian National Philharmonic, a tour to Taiwan with the Karl Weigl concerto and performances in the US of the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto with the New Haven Symphony. Graffin gave the first performance in over 100 years of the Frederick Cliffe violin concerto at the English Music Festival, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and in a concert at Wigmore Hall to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin he worked with the London Sinfonietta as both soloist and conductor. Recitals included concerts in Cambridge and London with pianist Claire Désert, concerts in Gstaad with Jeremy Menuhin and Turku with Olli Mustonen. He also gave performances at the Wigmore Hall and at the Sion Festival in Switzerland of his children’s story, The Hidden Fairy, with the actress Marie-Christine Barrault.
2009/10 includes his début in Italy with the Orchestra di Padova et del Veneto, a return to the Johannesburg Philharmonic to play the Beethoven violin concerto, concerts in Norway and Portugal as well as performances of the Elgar Violin Concerto in Leeds with the Orchestra of Opera North and at the Three Choirs Festival, a recital in London for the Enescu Society and at the Festival d’Alba in Italy. He will also make a recording for Hyperion’s Romantic Violin series with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. September 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of his festival, Consonances de Saint-Nazaire.
Philippe Graffin plays a Domenico Busano violin, made in Venice, 1730. He is currently Artist in Residence at the University of New York at Stony Brook.
LARS ANDERS TOMTER is one of today's most outstanding violists. The Giant of the Nordic Viola (The Strad) was born at Hamar, Norway. He began to play the violin at the age of eight and also took up the viola. Both instruments he studied with Professor Leif Jørgensen at the Oslo Music Conservatory and the Norwegian State Academy. He then continued his studies with Professor Max Rostal and with Sándor Vegh. He was awarded a special prize for his interpretation of Bartók's Viola Concerto at the International Viola Competition in Budapest in 1984 and then went on to win the Maurice Vieux International Competition in Lille in 1986.
Lars Anders Tomter has distinguished himself by performing new music extensively, including the world premiere of four concertos by Ragnar Söderlind, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Rolf Wallin and Anders Eliasson, which have all been written for Lars Anders Tomter. In 2011 he recorded Vagn Holmboe's Viola Concerto with Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra released on the dacapo label. In 2015 he recorded Poul Ruders' Viola Concerto with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and in 2017 he will perform Egil Hovland's Viola Concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic.
Lars Anders Tomter's appearances as an international viola soloist has been greeted with the highest public and critical acclaim throughout Europe and the United States, such as Vienna Musikverein, New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin and the Kölner Philharmonie. He has performed with orchestras such as BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RSO Frankfurt, NDR Radio Philharmonic Hannover, Gürzenich-Orchestra Cologne, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic and Danish National Radio Symphony. Conductors with whom he has worked together include among others Marc Albrecht, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sylvain Cambreling, Dennis Russell Davies, Olari Elts, Daniele Gatti, Manfred Honeck, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Juha Kangas, Krzysztof Penderecki, Okko Kamu, Arvid Jansons, Dmitri Kitaenko, Ken-Ishiro Kobayashi, Ervin Lukács, Nello Santi, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Ulf Schirmer, John Storgårds, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Muhai Tang and Hans Vonk. In addition, Lars Anders Tomter collaborates frequently with internationally renowned musicians in chamber music projects.
Lars Anders Tomter is a regular guest at important festivals such as BBC Proms, Lockenhaus, Kissingen Summer, Mondseetage, Schleswig-Holstein, Schwetzingen, Styriarte, Verbier as well as at a number of festivals in Scandinavia. In addition, he founded the Risør Chamber Music Festival which he directed until 2016.He is now directing the Fjord Classics festival.His large repertoire includes all major contemporary works, and he has recorded for Simax, Naxos, Virgin Classics, NMC, Somm and Chandos.
Lars Anders Tomter is a Professor at the State Academy in Oslo, supervising a number of Norway's most talented string players. In 2013 he was appointed professor at the Royal Danish Music Academy, Copenhagen. He plays a Gasparo da Salo viola dated from 1590.
SANDRA LIED-HAGA's rich, beautiful sound and prodigious talent have caught the attention of the biggest names in classical music, among them Daniel Barenboim and Anne-Sophie Mutter. Sandra stands on the threshold of a major career, having already won 4 International First Prizes and many more at home in Scandinavia. In November 2019 she was awarded the prestigious Equinor Classical Music Award of 100.000 Euro.
Sandra made her debut at Wigmore Hall aged just 12, and has since performed with numerous Orchestras, and in major Concert Halls all over Europe and beyond. She has given concerts in the UK, Germany, Austria, Russia, Norway, Italy, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Romania, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Iceland, Greece, Jordan, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and the United States. She has collaborated, among many others, with Conductors such as Rodolfo Saglimbeni, Ari Rasilainen, Terje Mikkelsen, Thomas Søndergård, Shao-Chia Lü, David Geringas, Peter Szilvay, Bjarte Engeset, Stephen Threlfall, Maffeo Scarpis and Trond Husebø.
Sandra has been invited to perform in many prestigious Festivals, among them Salzburg Festspiele, Sommets Musicaux in Gstaad, Weilburg Schloss Festspiele, Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, International Chamber Music Festival Utrecht, Bell'Arte Frankfurt, Groba Festival Spain, and the Bergen, Risør, Fjord Classics, Oslo and Valdres Festivals in Norway and the Fejø Festival in Denmark. She has also appeared at the Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia, and at the Verbier Festival Academy, following which she was invited to give her own concert at the Verbier Festival aged just 17.
Among Sandra's international accolades are First Prize and the Virtuoso Prize at the Tallinn Young Musician Competition; First Prize and Grand Laureate Prize at the Heran International Cello Competition in the Czech Republic; First Prize at the Padova International Music Competition and First Prize and Laureate at the International Chance Competition in Moscow. She has also been awarded the Bärenreiter Prize, The European Union Prize and EMCY Art for Music Prize.
In 2019 Sandra was awarded the prestigious Equinor Classical Music Award of 100.000 Euro. She has won 8 First Prizes in National Competitions in Norway, and was in 2017 awarded the Young Lindeman Prize by Alf Richard Kraggerud and the Lindeman Foundation.
Sandra, born 1994, began playing the cello aged 3. She became the youngest ever student on the programme for gifted children at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. She was thereafter the first student ever to be invited to the prestigious Razumovsky Academy in London, under the guidance of Oleg Kogan. She later studied with Truls Mørk for 6 years, and was subsequently invited to participate in a 1-year Artist Diploma programme at Daniel Barenboim's Academy in Berlin, where she studied with Frans Helmerson. After further studies with Lars Anders Tomter, she is now finishing her Master of Music with Torleif Thedeen at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
Sandra has played chamber music with renowned musicians at the highest level, including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janine Jansen, Leif Ove Andsnes, Yo-Yo Ma , Paul Lewis, Truls Mørk, Kathryn Stott, Gordon Back, Lars Anders Tomter, Piers Lane, Christian Ihle Hadland and Henning Kraggerud. She has appeared frequently on television and radio, and was the subject of a television portrait with her erstwhile teacher Truls Mørk.
In 2012 she was chosen as an ambassador for Playing for a Future. Sandra regularly plays Chamber Music Concerts with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the scholars in Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation and Mutter's Virtuosi. From 2019 she is part of the Crescendo Mentor Programme, with Leif Ove Andsnes and Janine Jansen as main mentors. She will in 2020 release her Debut-CD of Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor and Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations, Original Version, Label Simax Classics.
Sandra plays a Joannes Florenus Guidantus cello from Bologna 1730, kindly on loan from Dextra Musica.
MIRIJAM CONTZEN "The violinist Mirijam Contzen not only gives the figurations the necessary virtuoso brilliance with their radiant, brightly glowing tone, but also brings the treble position of the slow movement to an intense glow." Süddeutsche Zeitung
Mirijam Contzen is highly valued by the international music world as a soloist, chamber musician, festival director and professor of violin.
In her playing, grandezza and the highest technical mastery combine to create fascinatingly sophisticated views of the works. The unmistakable sound and the unique musical expressiveness testify to the deep interpretative individuality.
Born in Münster into a German-Japanese family, she was discovered during her orchestral debut by the legendary Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga, and was influenced by him as the direct successor to Jenő Hubay, Franz Gábriel, Zoltán Kodály and Leó Weiner. International debuts with orchestras followed very early in major concert halls, such as the Cologne Philharmonic, the Rudolfinum, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Barbican London and the Suntory Hall. Since the beginning of her concert activity, Mirijam Contzen has been promoting the performance of unknown repertoire. With the Orchestra de la Suisse Romane she played the violin concerto "Et derrière toi marchent les étoiles .." by Nicolas Bolens. For her debut CD, which won the Echo Prize 2001, she chose among others very rarely played works by Hubay, Ferrara and Geszler. On her CD recording with pianist Tobias Bredohl, she compared works by composer Stefan Heucke with sonatas by Hindemith.
In January 2020, Sony recorded Franz Clement's two violin concerts with the WDR Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Reinhard Goebel, with whom Mirijam Contzen had worked intensively for many years. The 2nd Violin Concerto is a world premiere recording. Franz Clement was the dedicatee of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, the latter composed in response to Clement's 1st Violin Concerto. The recording forms the first part of the cycle “Beethoven's World”, which was created under the artistic direction of Reinhard Goebel and explores the milieu around Ludwig van Beethoven. Another CD with the recording of the Hummel double concerto for violin and piano together with Herbert Schuch and the WDR Symphony Orchestra, also under the direction of Reinhard Goebel, will be released in May 2020.
In the 20/21 season, Mirijam Contzen is one of the guests with the WDR Symphony Orchestra, the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Essen Philharmonic and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she is touring Germany with a chamber music program together with pianist Bernd Glemser. She has worked with leading orchestras worldwide, including the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the RSO Frankfurt, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchester de la Suisse Romande, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
She played under the direction of Iván Fischer, Gianandrea Noseda, Reinhard Goebel, Vladimir Fedosejev, Leif Segerstam, Lothar Zagrosek, Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, Christopher Hogwood, Eliahu Inbal, Tomas Netopil, Michael Sanderling, Mario Venzago and Gabriel Feltz.
From 2005-2018 she directed the international music festival in Schloss Cappenberg, which was founded on her initiative, and which has shaped the musical landscape for over a decade through the focus on very versatile communication and intensive exchange with the audience and special program design. She is also a regular guest at renowned festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival, the MDR Music Summer, the Verbier Festival, the Lucerne Festival and the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt. Claudio Abbado invited her to the “Berlin Encounters”. Her passion for chamber music also led to collaborations with highly renowned musicians such as Emmanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Misha Maisky, Clemens Hagen, Herbert Schuch, Bernd Glemser, Tobias Bredohl and Giovanni Guzzo.
In 2016 Mirijam Contzen was appointed professor of violin at the Berlin University of the Arts. A major concern for her is the promotion of the very young violinist talent, the commitment to the training of music teachers, and the interest in educational processes in society.
BENEDICTE PALKO was born in Stavanger, Norway, of Norwegian-Hungarian parents, and is since 2002 permanently living in Seville, Spain. She chooses her musical projects with care, always true to her heart, and with a desire to live a profound musicianship in her relation with the audience and her musical partners.Benedicte Palko is well known for her technically brilliance and beauty of tone and melody. Her ability of an honest and profound music-making has not gone unnoticed among audiences and press reviews wherever she performs.
Benedicte Palko is the founder and artistic leader of the “International Chamber Music Festival Joaquín Turina”, which takes place in Seville, Spain. Here she has performed with musicians such as Philippe Graffin, Esther Hoppe, Nicolas Dautricourt, Tanja Becker- Bender, Tobias Feldmann, Mirijam Contzen, Gary Hoffman, István Vardái, Julian Steckel, Torleif Thedéen, James Dunham, Yura Lee, Lise Berthaud, José Luis Estellés, Gordan Nikoliç, KUSS Quartet...
In June 2019 Benedicte presented an new, annual chambermusic project in combination with litterature and gastronomy in the isle Bru, next to Stavanger called PALKO & Co:
Benedicte Palko is a demanded chamber musician and has shown herself as a highly appreciated partner for many renown musicians. She forms duos with violinist Philippe Graffin and cellist Lluís Claret. From 2017 she also collaborates in duos with violinist Nicolas Dautricourt, and piano trio with violinist Esther Hoppe and cellist Christian Poltéra, as well as performing together with the young, Spanish violinist Antonio Viñuales and cellist Salvador Bolón in duos o piano quartet, giving support to the young generation of musicians being one of her main interests. She has given recitals, chamber music concerts and appeared as soloist with orchestra in Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Holland, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, Spain and USA. In December 2018 Benedicte made her debut in Asia, where she was invited to perform as a Guest Leader in the chamber music series of the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea. Benedicte will continue her relation with South Korea in 2019, with chambermusic concerts in Daejeon and masterclasses at the Korea National Univerity of Arts in Seoul.
Benedicte Palko has a sincere pedagogical interest and is very active as a teacher. In Seville she has her own piano class with students from all over Andalusia and Spain, and she is a professor at MUSIKENE, the superior conservatory of the Basque country, in chamber music. Her students, pianists as well as chamber music groups, are among the finest young musicians in Spain of today. In April 2017 she was a jurymember of the renowned 59th International piano competiton “PREMIO JAÉN”.
Benedicte Palko studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music with prof. Einar Steen- Nökleberg. She continued her studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with Prof. Jose Ribera, where she completed diploma and soloist studies with her official soloist debut in November 1998. A US-Fulbright Foundation scholarship made it possible for Benedicte Palko to study with the legendary pianist and teacher Distinguished Prof. György Sebök for 2 years at Indiana University School of Music Bloomington, USA. Here she completed the highest diploma for soloists, Artist Diploma.
Benedicte has recorded the Sonata in f-minor by Prokofieff and preludes for violin and piano by Shostakovich with violinist Sakari Tepponen, as well as she appears in numerous live recordings for the National Spanish, and Norwegian Radio.