Kei Shirai, Violin


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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.

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Emily Körner, Violin

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Principal of the 2nd violin group of the SWR Symphonyorchestra since 2002 | Teacher at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart | Soloviolin at Max Rabe Palast Orchestra from 1998 – 2000 | Highly regarded chamber musician a.o. with the Hegel Quartet |

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.

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Janis Lielbardis, Viola

Member of the SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart | born in Latvia | played with the Kremerata Baltica | peformed as a chamber musician with Gideon Kremer, Tatjana Gridenko, Sergio Azzolini and Ilze Grudule | passionate latvia folk dance performer.

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

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Soloist, chamber musician and teacher | lives in Japan | 2nd prize ARD music competition | performed with Seiji Ozawa | studied in Stuttgart and Freiburg Musikhochschule | current album J.S. Bach Gamba Sonata by Warner Music

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.

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Ryutaro Hei, doublebass

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Member of the SWR Symphony Orchetra Stuttgart | Member of the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra | Teaching in Japan and Germany | performed as chamber musician in Japan and Europe | current album THE SOUND OF DOUBLE BASS with Yu Kosuge, piano.
Ryutaro Hei, Double Bass (Japan) won the 2004 DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Competition and was able to continue his Tokyo studies in Würzburg with Professor Bunya. As a soloist and chamber musician, he worked at the Festival ECLAT in Stuttgart, the Spor Festival, Denmark and “La Folle Journée” in Tokyo. Since 2007, Ryutaro has been a member of the Stuttgart RSO of SWR and since 2010 of the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra, Matsumoto (Japan). His debut CD, The Sound of the Double Bass was released by TACET in 2015.

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Dirk Altmann, Clarinet

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Principal solo clarinet with SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart | Teaching Masterclasses | Arranger | Colaboration with JOSEF clarinets and LIGAPHONE Paris | Albums “PARIS” with Mako Okamoto, piano and friends | Current recording Mozart Clarinet works, released by TACET

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.

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Hanno Dönneweg, Bassoon

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Principal bassoon SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart | Teaching at Académie supérieure de musique-Conservatoire Strasbourg | Masterclasses Japan, Taiwan and USA | Current albums bassoonFAGOTT!basson (covielloclassics) and Pleyel bassoon concerto (CPO).
Hanno Dönneweg (born 1977) received his first bassoon instruction at the age of nine. In 1997 he began his studies at the Staatliche Hochs chule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart with Professor Sergio Azzolini. In 1998 he continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’, Berlin (Academy of Music ‘Hanns Eisler’ Berlin) with Professor Klaus Thunemann. He received master’s training from Janos Meszaros, Helman Jung, Sergio Azzolini, Oscar Bohórquez and Klaus Thunemann. In 1999 Hanno Dönneweg became scholarship holder of the German music contest ‘Solisten’ (Soloists) and member of the federal selection ‘Konzerte junger Künstler’ (young artists’ concerts). After his further scholarship at the ‘Herbert v. Karajan Stiftung der Berliner Philharmoniker’ (Herbert v. Karajan foundation of the Berliner Philharmoniker) in 2001/2002 Hanno Dönneweg took on the position of the solo bassoonist at the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra(SWR) in August 2002, since September 2016 “SWR Symphonieorchester”. He has given concerts as soloist with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR), Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester Mannheim, Bayrisches Kammerorchester Bad Brückenau, Folkwang Kammerorchester Essen as well as with the Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim under Eiji Oue, Sigiswald Kuijken, Tatsuya Shimono, Michael Sanderling, Johannes Moesus, Gregor Bühl and Sir Roger Norrington. He played in chamber music ensembles with Heinz Holliger, Leonidas Kavakos, Radovan Vlatkovic, Klaus Thunemann and Sabine Meyer. Since 2004 he also performs with Steffen Mark Schwarz in the DUO. He is member of theLudwig Chamber Players, Stuttgart Winds and SWR Swing Fagottett. Hanno Dönneweg gave masterclasses in Stuttgart, Cincinnati (USA), Tokyo and Tai-nan (Taiwan) and was invited to the music festivals of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Ittingen in Switzerland and Affinis Festival in Japan. He made recordings for Organum, tacet, Coviello, cpo and Hänssler. In the year 2016/2017 Hanno Dönneweg was Professor for bassoon at the Académie supérieure de musique of Strasbourg, France. Hanno Dönneweg plays a Heckel bassoon, serial  number 15322.

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Wolfgang Wipfler, Horn

Principal solo horn with the SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart | Member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra | Teacher at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart | Masterclasses in Japan, Korea and USA | current album J.G. Lickl Chambermusic (Toccata Classics).
Wolfgang Wipfler, Horn (Germany) was a member of the European Community Youth Orchestra (ECYO) He has taught for many years at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and is a member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. He was Principal Horn of the Württemberg State Opera in Stuttgart, Germany and since 2004 he has held the same position with the Stuttgart RSO. He regularly gives masterclasses in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States.