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 from 2002 to 2008 and again since 2016.
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. He joined Astona international in 2021.
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 entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris at the age of 13 to study piano in the class of Jean and Geneviève Doyen. For seven years, he carried on his studies at the CNSM of Paris with Ventsislav Yankoff, adding chamber music, harmony and counterpoint. He won in 1980 the first prize for piano and chamber music and was admitted to post graduate studies in the advanced course. In 1981 François won the ARD International Competition in Munich. In 1983 he left France for two years to study at the Musikhochschule Hannover (Germany) with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling. He recorded with many broadcasting radio stations. François was also prizewinner at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and Palma de Mallorca in 1985, at the GPA of Dublin, at the Arthur Rubinstein competition of Tel-Aviv and finalist at the Piano Master of Monte-Carlo in 1989 and 1996. He has been invited to play with conductors such as Theodore Guschlbauer, Emmanuel Krivine, Hubert Soudant, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Grzegosz Nowak and Radoslav Szulc. He was invited to play at Salle Gaveau and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Berliner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, at the Music Festival La Roque d’Anthéron, at France Musique in Wigmore Hall and in Japan, Malaysia and Taïwan. In 1999 he performed the complete works of Chopin in Germany. Currently a member of the Schumann Quartet (Maya Kadosh violine, Christoph Schiller, viola, François Guye, cello), he is also a appreciated accompanist and partner of a wide range of artists such as Philippe Bernold, Michel Moraguès, Jacques Zoon, Lajos Lencses, Nobuko Imai, Laurent Verney, Gustav Rivinius, Natalie Dessay, Branimir Slokar, Mayumi Shimizu and Estelle Revaz.
After having been an outstanding accompanist at the Geneva, Lausanne and Bern Conservatories, and then of the candidates of the Geneva International Competition and of the International Menuhin Music Academy he has accumulated over the years a considerable repertoire from duet to octet. Today he is the sought-after partner of a wide range of mastercourses and competitions. He is currently Professor of piano at the Haute École de Musique (HEMU) in Fribourg and piano accompanist at the Bern University of the Arts (HKB). He joined Astona in 2008.
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. In 2022 he was handpicked to LEAD! Foundations Excellence Platform for Young Artists where he is being closely mentored by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. 2023 he was 1st. prizewinner of the International Conducting Competition Città di Beschia-Giancarlo Facchinetti. 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. He joined Astona international in 2023.