Kei Shirai, Violin
2nd prize ARD music competition | lives in Vienna | Chambermusic with the Stefan Zweig Piano Trio | performed with Seiji Ozawa | Member of Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra | studied in Tokyo and Vienna | plays as concert master in the NHK Symphony Orchestra
Japanese violinist Kei Shirai was born in Trinidad and Tobago and began playing the violin at the age of three. As a child he was taught by Tsugio Tokunaga and, while studying at Geidai University of the Arts in Tokyo, by Chikashi Tanaka and Miyoko Yamane-Goldberg. Upon his graduation in 2007, Kei Shirai was awarded a Japanese Government Scholarship to continue his studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna with Johannes Meissl. Among his awards at major international competitions are the second prize and the audience prize at the 2009 ARD Competition in Munich.
Kei enjoys a multi-faceted career as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. His concert engagements take him frequently to Japan’s biggest venues and festivals. In Europe he performs regularly with the Stefan Zweig Trio and the Ludwig Chamber Players: an acclaimed mixed instrumentation ensemble based in Stuttgart.
Since April 2020 Kei Shirai plays as concert master in the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo.
Emily Körner, Violin
Emily Körner was born in Illinois, USA and grew up in Canada. She studied at The Juilliard School in New York with Sally Thomas and Joel Smirnoff. As a scholarship recipient of the Canada Council and Huntington Beebe Fund, she moved to Berlin in 1995, where she continued her studies with Professors Uwe-Martin Haiberg and Mi-Kyung Lee at the Hochschule der Künste.
From 1998 to 2000 she was the solo violinist of the “Palastorchester with its singer Max Raabe.” Before joining the SWR Symphonie Orchester as principal second violin in 2002, she held the same position for two years in the Radiophilharmonie Hannover of the NDR (Northern German Radio). In addition, she is an honorary professor of violin at the State University of Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart.
As an highly regarded chambermusic player, she plays with the Hegel-Quartett.
Janis Lielbardis, Viola
Janis Lielbardis, Viola (Latvia) comes from Riga. He was Principal Viola of the “Kremerata Baltica” for many years and a chamber music partner of Gidon Kremer. As a guest at the Lockenhaus, Gstaad and Oslo festivals he played with Tatyana Grindenko, Sergio Azzolini and Ilze Grudule. Since 2002 he has been a member of the SWR Symphonie Orchester.
Gen Yokosaka, Violoncello
Born in 1986, Gen Yokosaka began to play the cello at the age 4 and studied with Katsuro Washio and later with Hakuro Mori at the Toho School of Music as well as taking further lessons with David Geringas and Jian Wang at the Ishikawa Music Academy.
Gen quickly became known as the most promising cellist of his generation in his native Japan after being awarded the top prize in the string section of the All Japan Classical Music Competition at 12 years old. He went on to win numerous competitions including,
at 15, the 2002 Viva Hall Cello Competition in 2002 of which he is the youngest ever winner.
Among his awards at major international competitions are the second prize at the 2010 ARD Competition in Munich.
Gen Yokosaka has performed with such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Kenichiro Kobayashi and Kazuki Yamada with orchestras including Symphonieorchester des Bayerishen Rundfunks, the NHK Symphomy, Yomiuri Symphony, Japan Philharmonic and Tokyo Symphony. He has had both recitals and concerto performances broadcast on national TV (NHK and TV Asahi).
In 2005 Gen performed in La Folle journée au Japon and took part in Pierre Boulez’ Lucerne Festival Academy. In the same year he was presented the Idemitsu Music Award. He also released CD of the “3 Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Cembalo” by Bach in 2016.
Gen Yokosaka studied at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and Hochschule für Musik Freiburg under Jean-Guihen Queyras.
Ryutaro Hei, doublebass
For more than 30 years, Dirk Altmann has been a principal solo clarinet with the SWR Symphonie Orchestra in Stuttgart. In addition, he is very active as a soloist, chamber musician, arranger and teacher.
In 2019 his recording of Mozart clarinet concerto KV 622 and the clarinet quintet KV 581, with the Ludwig Chamber Players and Masato Suzuki (fortepiano, conductor) has been released by the TACET label . In 2016 he produced PARIS, an album with the Japanese pianist and professor Mako Okamoto. Further CDs with works by Charles Koechlin, Robert Schumann and Paul Hindemith have been released with the labels Hänssler classic and TACET. As a soloist Altmann recorded the Première Rhapsody by Claude Debussy with Heinz Holliger and RSO Stuttgart for SWRmusic.
As a chamber musician he plays with the Ludwig Chamber Players (LCP), the STUTTGART WINDS, the newears.ensemble and in a duo with pianist Mako Okamoto.
An ensemble version of the “Visions fugitives” by S. Prokofiev (TACET:Prokofiev Chamber music), which he did for the Ludwig Chamber Players, was nominated for the International Classical Music Award (ICMA) 2017.
As a soloist, he was a guest at international festivals, In Ferrara, Schwetzingen, Salzburg or the Rheingau Music Festival, with Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Neville Marriner, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Thomas Hengelbrock, Peter Eötvös, Heinz Holliger and Daniel Harding as conductors.
In recent years, Dirk Altmann has repeatedly been invited to master classes in China, Taiwan and Japan. Since 2010 he has been cooperating with the Japanese woodwind instrument manufacturer JOSEF Woodwind Manufacture (Okinawa) and the clariner supplier LIGAPHONE Paris.
Hanno Dönneweg, Bassoon