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Conductor, founder and artistic director of the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot.

Born in Warsaw in 1948, Wojciech Rajski is a graduate of the Music Academy in Warsaw where he studied conducting with Bogusław Madey, gaining a diploma with distinction. He then studied at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany, on a DAAD scholarship. In Vienna, he participated in Master Classes with Witold Rowicki.

He made his professional debut in 1971 at the Grand Opera Theatre in Warsaw conducting the ballet Giselle. From 1974-78, he served as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for the State Philharmonic Orchestra in Poznań and also conduced the Betovenhalleorchester during 1978-80. In 1982 he founded the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot.

From 1993 to 2006 Wojciech Rajski served as Artistic Director of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Warsaw, regularly performing some of the best European concert halls in France, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Spain and Italy.

In addition to concert performances, he realised many recordings for Polish Radio.

Beside the regular work with Polish orchestras, Wojciech Rajski has appeared as a guest conductor with numerous orchestras in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mexico, England, Sweden, Greece, Spain and Germany. He has worked closely with several orchestras, including the Orchestre de la Suisse Romaine, NDR Hannover and Bayerische Rundfunk. He has performed with many soloists of world renown including Mstislav Rostropovich, Henryk Szeryng, Sabine Meyer, Ivo Pogorelich and Krystian Zimerman, who toured Germany together with Wojciech Rajski and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.

Wojciech Rajski has taken part in numerous international festivals including the Prague Spring, the Festival of Flanders, Festival Gran Canaria, Festspiele Europäische Wochen Passau, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Festivals at Evian and Montpellier, La Chaise Dieu and the Festival in Copenhagen. His discography includes over 50 albums for labels such as EMI, Chant du Monde, Claves, Thorofon, Tacet, Midas, Bis Wifon, KOCH, and many others. He has also records for radio and television in Poland and Germany  for SAT 1, 3 SAT and ARD.

In 1993 Wojciech Rajski began teaching, accepting a position at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe where he was awarded the title of Professor. Since 1998 he has been a Professor of Conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, and has also taught conducting classes at the Music Academy in Gdańsk since 2008. In 2010, he received the title of Professor from the President of Poland.

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The vocal and instrumental ensemble Cappella Mediterranea was created in 2005 by Leonardo García Alarcón, with the aim of returning to the roots of the aesthetic ideals of the great musicians from southern Europe.

United by a rare bond with their artistic director, the ensemble’s aims are to re-orientate the approach to Latin baroque music with reference to recent musicological discoveries in Italian rhetoric, to codify the baroque parameters still alive in the popular music of southern Europe, and lastly to redraw the north-south journey which was common to all the arts from the renaissance to the baroque.

Cappella Mediterranea explores the three main musical genres of the early 17th century – the madrigal, the polyphonic motet and the opera. The ensemble’s original approach, along with the high quality of its performances, have earned it the [recognition/admiration] of the international press.

The ensemble’s discography of works by Barbara Strozzi, Giovanni Giorgi, Zamponi and Falvetti are viewed as reference recordings and have received numerous awards.

In 2011 Cappella Mediterranea continued its prestigious collaborations, accompanying the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter at Ambronay Abbey, the Wigmore Hall and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. This programme was recorded for Naïve for release in Autumn 2012.

Continuing its activity in the rediscovery of musical works, one of the key projects of 2012 is the performance and recording of Nabucco by Michelangelo Falvetti, found in 2011 and not played since its premiere in Messina in 1863.

In 2013, Cappella Mediterranea will be invited to the Academy of Aix en Provence to perform Cavalli’s opera Elena, conducted by Leonardo García Alarcón and directed by Jean-Yves Ruf.

For several years now, the ensemble has also tackled new operatic repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Mozart.

Cappella Mediterranea is supported by the Fondation Orange, DRAC Rhône Alpes, the region of Rhône Alpes and the Ain department.

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Simon Hanrath grew up in Krefeld. Some might add “regrettably”. But for him it was more of a blessing, as this is where he met his first saxophone teacher, Laszlo Dömötör, who has remained to this day a powerful source of motivation and inspiration to him.

The second benefit of growing up in Krefeld, is that it lies at a reasonable distance from Dortmund, where Simon ended up studying, with Prof. Daniel Gauthier, one of the most renowned saxophonists in the world. Incidentally, a third advantage of living in Krefeld should be mentioned: its inhabitants are a very accommodating people, who have put up, without complaining, with hours of his relentless practice.

The latter seems to have paid off over the years, as Simon has diligently accumulated 1st prizes at the national competition “Jugend musiziert” (Youth Makes Music). Further prizes followed during his studies, such as a 1st prize at the Gustav Bumcke Saxophone Competition and a scholarship from the Society for the Promotion of Cultural Work of Westphalia (GWK).

Since then he has been a regular guest at leading German orchestras (WDR Radio Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Philharmonic Essen, Ensemble Modern). Since 2005, he has been working as assistant saxophone teacher at the Frankfurt College of Music. Simon Hanrath has been living in Ulm since 2003, where he works together with the saxophone quartet Saxofourte, and from where he can look back at an extended concert activity.

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“This brilliant pianist can create incredible excitement and knows how to please a crowd,” reported The Washington Post when reviewing Alexander Peskanov’s Kennedy Center performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto.

Mr. Peskanov’s American debut as orchestral soloist came with the National Symphony under Mscislav Rostropovich, and he has since appeared internationally with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, as well as in the United States with the Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston, Utah, Richmond and Pacific Symphonies. He was also the featured soloist during the six-week tour of the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot which included appearances at The Kennedy Center and Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Recently, Alexander Peskanov was featured in solo recital at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, as part of the series Russian Splendor. He is a popular guest soloist with orchestras in South and Central America such as Bogota Philharmonic, Costa Rica National Symphony and Venezuela Symphony Orchestra. Among the illustrious musicians with whom he has collaborated are Maurice Andre, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Yo-Yo Ma.

Alexander Peskanov is also a successful composer of classical works. He has written three concertos for young pianists, the 1st being selected for the National Federation of Music Clubs’ 2007 –2010. The score and recording are soon to be released by Hal Leonard Publications. Mr. Peskanov is the recipient of three special ASCAP awards.

His recordings include a CD of his own piano compositions entitled “Spirits of the Wind – Peskanov Plays Peskanov” which has been featured in a satellite broadcast on National Public Radio stations.

Mr. Peskanov graduated from the Stoliarsky School of Music in Odessa, Ukraine, and received his Masters and Bachelor degrees at The Juilliard School in New York. He is also the author of the series of six books entitled: “The Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano,” published by the Willis Music.

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Olga Bezsmertna has been member of the ensemble at Vienna State Opera since February 2012, where she made a spectacular house debut as Dame in Hindemith’s Cardillac conducted by Franz Welser-Möst: “From this superb voice certainly exciting things will be heard also in the popular repertoire in the near future.” (Die Presse). At the Nurejew-Gala at the Vienna State Opera she impressed the audience with her interpretation of Vier letzte Lieder by Richard Srauss, accompanied by the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. In the season 2012/13 Olga Bezsmertna will sing Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro with Jeremie Rhorer conducting, Pamina in Zauberflöte and will appear in Elektra, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Fledermaus, Pollicino and Götterdämmerung at Wiener Staatsoper. She also made her debut at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn with a recital of songs by Bach, Haendel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

Olga Bezsmertna was unanimously elected Neue Stimme 2011. The jury was chaired by Dominique Meyer. Prior to this, in summer 2011 she participated in the Young Singers Project in Salzburg.

In 2010 and in 2011 Olga Bezsmertna was among the finalists at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna. At the 2008 European Opera Singing competition DEBUT she won both first prize and the people’s choice prize as well as the Puccini award. In 2006 she received an award at the International Rimsky-Korsakov Vocal Competition in St. Petersburg, followed by an engagement at Oper Oder-Spree Festival in 2007. Her repertoire includes Contessa, Pamina, Donna Elvira, Fiordiligi, Micaëla, Marguerite, Nedda, Marfa (Die Zarenbraut), Tatjana, Jolanthe, Zemfira (Aleko). Olga Bezsmertna graduated from the Kiev National Academy of Music in Ukraine in 2010.

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IRYNA ZHYTYNSKA mezzosoprano

Born in Ivano-Frankovsk (Ukraina), in year 1998 entering in Music College on violin facultet. In 2002 entering in the National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music on vocal facultet in class of prof. V. M. Kurin and finished the study in class O. M. Dyachenko. Actual vocal teacher is Jolanta Żmurko. In year 2003 took part in the National Competition “The new names of Ukraine” and became a laureate. In year 2004 became a laureate in the International Competition “Art of the 21. Century” in Ukraine (3rd Prize). In year 2006 became a laureate in the International Competition of Young Singer by A. Solovyanenko also in Ukraine(2nd Prize).

Her repertoire includes various opera parts: Olga, Siebel, Lubasha, Carmen, Maddalena, Fenena, Witch (Purcell’s Dido and Aeneos”), Emilia, Papagena, Cherubino, Dorabella, Zerlina, Charlotte, Marina Mnishek, Hostess, Konchakovna, Dalila as well as oratorio repertoire: “Gloria” A. Vivaldi, “Te Deum” A. Bruckner, “Illia” F.Mendelssohn, Messe C-Dur L. van Beethoven, “El amor brujo” M. de Falla.

She made her debut with the Ukrainian National Opera in Kiev in 2007 as Olga in “Evgeniy Oniegin”. In December 2007 she debuted in Wroclaw Opera as Maddalena in “Rigoletto” and currently is a soloist of this opera. In December 2008 she made her debut in Teatro Real in Madrid as Zefka from “Zapisnik zmizeleho” by Leos Janaček and in October 2009 in Opera Narodowa in Warsaw as Hostess in “ Borys Godunov” by M. Musorgsky. In April 2010 the artist debuted in Teatr Wielki in Poznan as Charlotte from “Werther” by J. Massenet. A year later she sang Olga in Teatro ABAO-OLBE, Bilbao and in May 2013 she will sing Olga in Teatro Reggio in Torino

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Born in 1986 in Kiev; since 2006 he studies at the vocal faculty of the National Musical Tchaikovskiy Academy. In 2004, he was the recipient of the international competition «Art of XXI century». He made his debut in 2008 singing the roles of Trike and Lenskiy in Eugeny Onegin (Tchaikovski) at the National Shevchenko Opera Theatre and Lykov in The Tzar’s bride (Rimskiy-Korsakov) with the Tatar Academic State Opera and Ballet, M. Dzhalil Theatre (Kazan, Russia) and the Shaliapin festival of opera singers.

In 2010, he received the Grand Prix of the 16. International Lydia Abramova vocal student’s competition «Bella voce» (Moscow, Russia), the Grand Prix for the best Tchaikovskiy music performance in the National Tchaikovskiy Musical Academy vocal faculty competition, the Third Prize « International Vocal Competition in Memory of Antonina Nezhdanova» (Odessa , Ukraine), the Special Award of the festival “Tournament Tenors” (Szczecin, Poland), the Special Prize of the Jury at the International Vocal Competition “Debut” (Wiekersheim, Germany), in 2011, the Grand Prix International Ivan Alchevski Vocal Competition “Alchevskiy Debut ” (Kharkov, Ukraine). He is finalist of the International Vocal Competition in the Opera Festival in Savonlinna (Finland). He has toured with the Kiev Musical Theatre performing the role of Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata in Switzerland. He performed in France in The Nose of Shostakovich (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2011 and the Opera de Lyon) with Kazyshi Ono as conductor and William Kentridge as director, the roles in Wagner’s Parsifal (Opéra de Lyon) with Kazushi Ono as conductor and François Girard as director. With the Symphony Orchestra of Thessaloniki (Greece) performing Jewish Songs by Shostakovich, conductor Alexander Myrat in 2012.

In October 2012, he joins the Atelier Lyrique of the Paris National Opera.

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A graduate of the Warsaw Music Academy in Kazimierz Pustelak’s vocal class. As a student he began working with the Warsaw Chamber Opera singing in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. During this time he also performed at the Grand Theatre – the National Opera in Warsaw as Don Basilio in Rossini’s Barber of Seville. He has toured abroad in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan with the ensembles of both these theatres.

Robert Gierlach performs on prestigious opera stages and concert halls of Europe, North America and Japan. He has appeared on Italian stages, including the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and has performed in theaters in France such as the Opera of Nice and Marseilles and the Theatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

In the United States he played Figaro in Marriage of Figaro at the Detroit Opera House and sang at Carnegie Hall in New York. He also performed in Marriage of Figaro at the Nico Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, the Grand Theatre in Geneva and the Grand Opera in Miami, Florida.

Frequently on tour, he has worked with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Polish National Radio Symphony, Sinfonia Varsovia, the Orchestre National de France, ‘I Soloisti Veneti,’ the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Orchestra, the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Filarmonica della Scala, the Dresdner Rundfunk Orchester, and the NHK Tokyo Orchestra.

He has taken part in many music festivals, including Vratislavia Cantans, the Salzburger Festspiele, the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, the Berliner Festwoche and Schleswig-Holstein Festival. He has collaborated with many famous conductors and opera directors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Nello Santi, Charles Dutoit, Jeffrey Tate, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Claudio Scimone, Michele Plasson, Vladimir Jurovski, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Daniele Gatti, Christian Thielemann, Jan Krenz, Kazimierz Kord, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Gabriel Chmura, Jerzy Semkow, Antoni Wit, Peter Stein, and Luca Ronconi.

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Olga Konošenko was born in Vilnius on January 1, 1978. After graduating from the Vilnius M.K. Čiurlionis School of Arts in 1996, she joined the Ballet Company of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2002 she won diploma and special prize for musicality at the Perm International Ballet Competition “Arabesk”. The same year she received an award of Jurgis Žalkauskas, a chairman of an Australian Ballet Society and became a winner of the “Švyturiai” prize as the »Ballet Hope of the Year«, in 2010 and 2011 she became a winner of the “Švyturiai” prize as the »Female Ballet Soloist of the Year«.

She has toured with the Ballet company of the LNOBT to Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, USA, Japan, Turkey, Egypt, Holland, Denmark etc. Her repertoire includes roles of : Raymonda (Raymonda), Egle (Eglė, the Queen of Grass-Snakes), Mari (The Nutcracker), Odette and Odile (Swan Lake), Ekaterina (Russian Hamlet), Capuletti (Romeo and Juliet), The Queen of the Dryads, Grand Pas (Don Quixote), Magnolia (Cipollino), Lilac Fairy (The Sleeping Beauty), Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Venus (Walpurgis Night), Cinderella (Cinderella), Soloist (Acid city), Soloist (Carmina Burana), Mirhta (Giselle), Lucia (Venecian Masquerade), Ipolitta and Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ballerina (Red Giselle), Olympia (Coppelia), Sylphide (La Sylphide), Gamzatti (La Bayadere), Blanchefleur (Tristan and Isolde).

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In 1999 Martynas Rimeikis graduated from the Ballet Department of the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Arts and in that same year became a soloist with the Ballet Company of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2007 he won the “Švyturiai” Award as «Ballet Hope of the Year», and In 2011 won the “Švyturiai” Award as the «Male Ballet Soloist of the Year».

Mr. Rimeikis has toured the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland and other. His repertoire includes: Espada (Don Quixote), Yorgos (Zorba the Greek), Hilarion (Giselle), Chekist (Red Giselle), Othello (Desdemona), Franz, the Count (The Blue Danube), Žygimantas Augustas (Barbora Radvilaitė), Prince Lemon (Cipollino), Nathanael (Coppelia), Gurn (La Sylphide), King Mark, Rivalen (Tristan and Isolde).

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An honors graduate of prof. Krystina Jurecka’s Violin Class at the Music Academy of Gdansk, Paula Preuss is currently a doctoral candidate at the same institution. She has been lauded at many solo and chamber competitions, including in Gdansk, Olsztyn, Ponan, Wrocław, Ziolona Górze and Łódz.

In 2008 she took the Third Place at the V J. Brahms International Chamber Music Competition in Gdansk. She took place in Music Courses in Łańcut, Baloszyce, Jadwisin, Gdansk and Bagneres de Bigorre, where she perfected her skills under the guidance of such distinguished teachers as Wanda Wikomirska, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Yair Kless, Sergej Stadler, Marianne Piketty and Maxim Vengerov.

She received scholarships from the Mayor of Gdansk, “Agrafka Muzyczna” and from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2009-2011. As part of the Erasmus scholarship program she studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse in Lyon, France, in the class of prof Marianne Piketty.

Throughout the country she performs many concerts and has appeared as a soloist with the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of the Music Academy in Gdansk, the Sopot Polish Chamber Philharmonic under the direction of Wojciech Rajski, The Polish Baltic Philharmonic and the Baltic Youth Philharmonic.

Paula Preuss participated in the XIV International H. Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznan in October 2011.

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Born in Hamburg he began learning piano at the age of 6 and horn at the age of 8. In 2000 he began his studies with Prof. Michael Höltzel with whom he later studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock.

He was a member of many well-known youth orchestras and since 2010 holds the position of principal horn at the ›Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin‹

He has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the ›Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin‹, the ›Düsseldorfer Symphoniker‹, the ›Hamburger Symphoniker‹, the ›Münchner Kammerorchester‹, the ›Polish Chamber Orchestra‹ etc.

He has been awarded several prizes at international competitions, for example the 2nd Prize at the ›Internationaler Aeolus Bläserwettbewerb 2007‹ in Düsseldorf as well as the 2nd Prize at the ›Internationaler Instrumentalwettbewerb Markneukirchen 2008‹

In 2010 he won the 2nd Prize at the ›Internationaler Musikwettbewerb der ARD‹ in Munich.

He is a welcome guest at festivals such as the ›Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele‹, the ›Rheingau Musikfestival‹ and the ›Europäisches Klassikfestival Ruhr‹.

He was scholarship holder of the ›Oscar und Vera Ritter Stiftung‹, the ›Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben‹ and the ›Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes‹.

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Born in Manchester (UK) in 1991, grew up in southern Germany. In his early years he gained valuable musical experience in different productions as an ensemble member and soloist i.e. Die Zauberflöte, Midsummernight’s Dream, Lucia di Lammermoor, Götterdämmerung, Nabucco, Lustige Witwe, La Forza del Destino and many more.

His solo repertoire includes works by Bach, Händel, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Tosti and Britten. Since October 2012 he is a vocal student of Prof. Thomas Heyer at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt.

He has sung many different concerts in Germany and abroad i.e. Alte Oper Frankfurt and Summer Festival Gdansk, and is currently singing the role of DonRamiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the Bad Vilbeler Burgfestspiele.

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MARGAUX BLANCHARD viola da gamba

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