Kristoffer Dolatko is one of the leading violin teachers in Denmark. He graduated from Feliks Nowowiejski School of Music in Gdansk (Poland) where he studied with Professor Krystyna Jurecka, continuing his studies at the Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdansk in the class of Professor Henryk Keszkowski.He moved from his native Poland to Denmark in 1990 where he started to teach in Northern Jutland and play in the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. As a result of his distinguished teaching, Kristoffer Dolatko was invited to be a member of the jury of the Jacob Gade Youth Violin Competition in Vejle. In 2002 he began teaching at the Aarhus Musikskole - one of the best music schools in Denmark. For many years he has enjoyed a very close collaboration with Alf Richard Kraggerud and is often invited to Norway (Barratt-Due Musikkinstitut and Valdres Sommersymfoni). In 2008 he was appointed to the position of violin tutor at the famous and prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, where he is working at present with some of the most talented children from Great Britain and abroad. In 2012 he accepted a teaching position at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. His students have been awarded many prizes at regional, national (Danish) and international competitions. Kristoffer Dolatko is continuously exploring and searching for new methods of teaching, practising and developing talented young musicians in the best possible way. He has been Assistent Director of the Astona International Summer Music Academy for many years.
Alf Richard Kraggerud is one of the most successful and respected violin teachers in Scandinavia. His students have won numerous international prizes over the past twenty years. Several of his protégées presently enjoy extensive careers, performing with major orchestras, participating in prestigious festivals, as well as appearing frequently in the media, both nationally in Norway and abroad. One of the first to receive Mr. Kraggerud’s mentoring in practicing skills was his younger brother, Henning Kraggerud, today considered one of the most interesting and exhilarating violinists of his generation. In 1992, after having completed his studies in pedagogy and violin with honors at the renowned Barratt Due Institute of Music (Oslo, Norway), he continued to study conducting in London (classes at the Royal Academyand Morley College). In 1999 he assumed responsibilities for the talent section (pre-school) of the Barratt Due Institute of Music, an institution at the international forefront of musical education. Presently, he is the co-director of Barratt Due. Alf Richard Kraggerud is the founder of the Valdres Sommersymfoni in Norway (initiated in 1994) and has been a member of the faculty of the Astona International Summer Music Academy for many years.
The Belgian-Israeli violist Nathan Braude has performed in many of the world's most prestigious concert venues including the Wigmore Hall in London, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris,
Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Köln Philharmonie and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Nathan Braude has also appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras including the “Brussels
Philharmonic”, “Orchestre National de Lille”, “Orchestra della Svizzera italiana”, "Stavanger Symphony Orchestra", “Gürzenich Orchester, Köln”, “Australian Chamber
Orchestra”, “Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège”, “Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen”, “Limburgs Symfonie Orkest”, “Solistes Européens Luxembourg”. Festival appearances include
“Progretto Martha Argerich” in Lugano, “Ravinia Festival” in Chicago ,‘’Festival de Radio France” in Montpellier’’, "Oxford International Chamber Music Festival",
Stavanger International Chamber Music Festival" amongst many others.
Nathan's numerous chamber music partners have included artists such as Patricia Kopachinskaja, Vilde Frang, Priya Mitchell, Ilya Gringolts, Mischa Maisky, Sol Gabetta and his wife Polina Leschenko. His début recording for the Fuga Libera label with the complete works for viola, by the Belgian composer Joseph Jongen, has been released to great critical acclaim. Other recordings include the Dvorak piano quartet op.87 released on EMI Classics as part of the “Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012” series and Brahms horn trio (viola version) for the Warner Classic label. Prior to his position as first principal violist at the Gürzenich Orchester, Köln, Nathan has held solo viola positions at the Brussels Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.
Since September 2017 Nathan is a professor of viola at the Royal College of Music in London.
French cellist Francis Gouton has given concerts as a soloist and chamber musician in many of the major concert halls and festivals on all continents, such as the Columbia University in NYC, John F. Kennedy Center fort he Performing Arts in Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, the Wigmore Hall in London, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney Opera House, Berlin Schauspielhaus, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, the festivals of Ludwigsburg, Lyons (musicades), Gstaad, and Saint-Barthélemy in the French carribean, with chambermusic partners such as Thomas Brandis, Joseph Silverstein, Ana Chumachenco, Nelson Goerner, Anton Nel , Emmanuel Pahud, Bruno Pasquier, Jean-Claude Pennetier, the Jerusalem Quartet among others.
As a soloist he played with the Stuttgart state orchestra, the Stuttgarter chamber orchestra, Real filharmonía de Galicia (Spain) Orquestra Sinfonica de Maracaibo (Venezuela), the Württemberg chamber Orchestra Heilbronn, the Ìzmir State Symphony Orchestra (Turkey), the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra in Palermo (Italy) in Japan with Century Orchestra Osaka, The Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra Yokohama and the Gunma-, Nagoya- and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras.
As an eclectic musician he performs the 6 Bach Suites as well as contemporary music, such as concertos by Josef Tàl, Isang Yun and Philip Glass, or the sequanza XIV by L.Berio. 2014 and 2015 he premiered the concertpiece for Cello and Orchestra by Milko Lazar and the 2. concerto by Xaver Paul Thoma, both written for him. He also records many unknown masterworks of the French repertoire such as the sonatas by Widor, Vierne, Pierné, Emmanuel and Bréville, for radio and CDs whilst he plays with the Claude Bolling Jazz Trio, the saxophonist Daniel Schnyder and percussionist Jason Marsalis. For many years he has explored the world of Bach in close cooperation with Helmuth Rilling and as a principal cello of the Stuttgart Bach-Collegium.
A passionate teacher, Francis Gouton was professor at the Trossingen music conservatory (Germany) and is now professor at the Mannheim University of music. He gives master classes across the world, he is guest professor at the Jimei University Xiamen and the Tongji University Shanghai in China, passing on to his students the teaching of his masters Maria Kliegel, János Starker and Pierre Fournier. He has been member of the faculty of Astona International for many years.
Born in Paris in 1962, François Killian demonstrated musical and pianistic talent at an early age, which led him, at age 13 to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in Jean and Geneviève Doyen's class. Two years later, George Cziffra heard him playing a Concerto of Scriabin with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France and encouraged his vocation. For several years, François continued his study at the CNSM of Paris with Ventsislav Yankoff and at the same time studied chamber music, harmony and counterpoint. In 1980, he won the first prizes for piano and chamber music. The same year, François Killian was admitted to postgraduate studies in the advanced course and won, age 19, the ARD International Piano Competition in Munich. Wishing to improve his repertoire, he left France for two years to study at the Musikhochschule Hanover with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling. This was the beginning of his career on the other side of the Rhine. He recorded with many radio stations, and in 1986 he passed the Konzertexamen. François Killian was invited to play under the batons of Theodor Guschlbauer, Emmanuel Krivine, Hubert Soudant and Jesus Lopez-Cobos. He was invited to play at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, at the Philharmonic and the Konzerthaus of Berlin, at the second Music Festival of la Roque- d'Anthéron, at France Musiques, and at the Wigmore Hall. He is particularly appreciated for his interpretations of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann or Brahms but also Ravel or Szymanowski. Killian won a prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and Palma de Majorca (1985), at the Milosz Magin Competition of the Friends of Polish Music (1987), at the GPA of Dublin (1988) and at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel-Aviv (1989). It was in 1996 at the finals of the Monte-Carlo Piano Masters, broadcast live from the Opera, that François Killian, accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo, conducted by Jean- Bernard Pommier, made his name with his interpretation of Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand. In 1998, he replaced with great success, as underlined by the press, the pianist Krystian Zimerman at the Festival "Music and Friendship'' of Biel, playing the Second Concerto of Rachmaninov, conducted by Grzegorz Nowak. At the moment, most of his concerts are taking place in Germany, in particular in the Palatinat, where in 1999, he performed in 10 concerts the complete works of Chopin. Chamber Music : The founding in 1999 of the European Fine Arts Trio with Tomasz Tomaszewski, first concertmaster of the Deutsche Opera Orchestra of Berlin and Pi-Chin Chien, prize winner of the Leonard Rose Competition of Washington, was successful. It won the Fryderyk Polish Prize for the best recording of chamber music with the trios of Chopin and Debussy (DUX). The trio also recorded for the "Musiques Suisses'' label, the triple concerto of Paul Juon (1872 - 1940) with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Cracow conducted by Tomasz Bugaj. EFAT is the outstanding interpreter of the work of this composer.
Joonas Pitkänen, born in 1986 and resident in Basel (Switzerland), is a charismatic and dynamic Finnish conductor. Aside from the Scandinavian Repertoire to which he feels a natural affinity, he is especially appreciated for his interpretations of Shostakovich and his work as opera conductor. His concerts are intriguing and moving. He sees his mission to make music and musicians come first and to render accessible less well-known works and contemporary music to the audience. Based in Basel, Pitkänen was principal conductor of Monferrato Classic Orchestra in Italy and is currently chief conductor of Stadtorchester Zug in Switzerland and Akademisches Orchester Freiburg in Germany. His future engagements include re-invitations to work with Basler Festival Orchestra and debuts with Helsinki Philharmonic, Turku Philharmonic and Akademisches Kammerorchester Zürich. He was handpicked to LEAD! Foundations Excellence Platform for Young Artists where he is being closely mentored by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Pitkänen also acts as artistic director of Finnish concert series Feeling blue & white in Basel, which he co-founded in 2014.
He has appeared as guest conductor of the Sinfonieorchester Biel-Solothurn, Slovak Chamber Orchestra, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz and Kammerorchester Basel among others. As an opera conductor he has appeared e.g. with Opera Studio Würzburg and newly with Opernkollektiv Zürich where he conducted the World Premiere Production and Recording of Joachim Raffs “Die Eifersüchtigen”.
Pitkänen studied cello in Hochschule für Musik Basel with Thomas Demenga and conducting in Musikhochschule Würzburg with Ari Rasilainen. He has also participated in masterclasses with Neeme Järvi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mark Stringer, Ulrich Windfuhr, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Hannu Lintu. In addition to his work as a conductor, he is a permanent cellist with the Camerata Zurich and an active chamber musician.