Benjamin Schmid (Chairman)

Benjamin Schmid was born in Vienna and grew up in Salzburg. Among other competitions, he won 1991 the 2nd International Violin Competition Leopold Mozart Augsburg and 1992 the Carl Flesch Competition in London, where he was also awarded the Mozart-, the Beethoven- and the Audience-Prize.

Since then he has performed on the world’s major stages with renowned orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra London, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic or the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. As one of the most versatile of today's violinists Benjamin Schmid combines his qualities as a soloist, the extraordinary broad range of his repertoire – in addition to the usual works he also plays the violin concertos by Hartmann, Gulda, Korngold, Muthspiel, Szymanowski, Lutoslawski and Reger – with his remarkable skill in jazz improvisation.

Benjamin Schmid has recorded about 50 CDs and they have received various awards such as the German Record Prize (several times for Classic and Jazz), the Echo Klassik Prize, the Gramophone Editor’s Choice and the Strad Selection. Several films and Concert Films have been made about Benjamin Schmid which document his exceptional status as a violinist; they have been screened on television throughout the world.

Benjamin Schmid is portrayed as one of the most important violinists in the book "Great Violinists of the 20th Century" by Jean-Michel Molkhou (Edition Buchet-Chastel, 2014). He performs on the Stradivari violin "ex Viotti, ex Rosé 1718", made available to him by the Austrian National Bank.

Benjamin Schmid, Photo: Wolfgang Lienbacher

Friedemann Eichhorn

Friedemann Eichhorn has been a professor at the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar since 2002 and is artistic director of the Kronberg Academy and the International Louis Spohr Violin Competition Weimar. He studied violin with Valery Gradow in Mannheim, Alberto Lysy at the Menuhin Academy in Gstaad and Margaret Pardee at the Juilliard School in New York. He received his doctorate in musicology in 2002 from the University of Mainz.

He performs with orchestras such as the SWR Radio Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and many others, often playing a double role of soloist and conductor. His discography for Naxos, Hänssler Classic and Oehms includes the complete violin works of Franz Liszt, violin concertos by Mozart and Haydn and, as first recordings, the 13 violin concertos of Pierre Rode.

His students play with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and numerous well-known opera and radio orchestras and have won prizes at international violin competitions. In addition to his work as artistic consultant for G. Henle Publishers and as an editor of music editions, Friedemann Eichhorn contributes articles for encyclopedias and journals. His performance credits include concerts with Gidon Kremer, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Yuri Bashmet, Boris Pergamenschikow as well as many other artists.

Friedemann Eichhorn, Photo: Guido Werner

Liza Ferschtman

Renowned for her strong musical personality and the versatility of her musicianship, which combines powerful dynamism and intense lyricism, Liza Ferschtman has been praised in the international musical press, with The New York Times describing her as ‘nothing short of revelatory’, and referring to the ‘laserlike intensity, purity and refined beauty of her playing’, while The Guardian commended her ‘vivacious musical personality’ and ‘lovely lyrical quality’.

The daughter of prominent Russian-Jewish musicians, Liza grew up in a musical environment and as a young child she was soon taking her first violin lessons from the legendary violinist and family friend, Philip Hirschhorn. After his death she studied with Herman Krebbers, Ida Kavafian at the celebrated Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and David Takeno in London.

Since winning the Dutch Music Award, the most distinguished prize for Dutch musicians, in 2006 Liza has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s top orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Warsw Philharmonic and Brussels Philharmonic, collaborating with conductors including Jaap van Zweden, Iván Fischer, Stéphane Denève, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jun Märkl, Frans Brüggen, Neeme Järvi, Otto Tausk, Dmitry Sitkovetsky and Thomas Søndergård.

Liza Ferschtman is also a passionate chamber musician and a popular guest at festivals and concert venues throughout the world. Since 2007 she has been artistic director of the Delft Chamber Music Festival, an internationally renowned festival that invites world-class musicians to present a captivating, strongly thematic programme each summer. Liza Ferschtman’s chamber music partners include Elisabeth Leonskaja, Jonathan Biss, Alisa Weilerstein, Christian Poltera, Julius Drake, Martin Roscoe, Nobuko Imai, Lars Anders Tomter, Marie Luise Neunecker, Sharon Kam and Amihai Grosz. Her Wigmore Hall debut with Roman Rabinovich in December 2017 received glowing reviews, including 5 stars in The Independent.

Liza Ferschtman has an impressive discography. Her CDs under the Challenge label feature violin concertos by Beethoven, Dvořák, Mendelssohn, Korngold and Bernstein (Serenade). She has also recorded chamber music on CD, including Mendelssohn’s octet, works by Schubert and Beethoven performed with Inon Barnatan and the Kodaly, Ravel and Schulhoff duos performed with her father, the cellist Dmitri Ferschtman. Liza’s CD featuring solo works by Bach and Ysaÿe was chosen as ‘CD of the Month’ by The Strad magazine. Her latest recording (Korngold Concerto anmd Bernstein Serenade) has also been highly acclaimed by the international press.

Liza Ferschtman, Photo: Marco Borggreve

Remy Franck

Born in Luxembourg in 1952, Remy Franck published his first reviews and articles about music in 1968. With a diploma of the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme in Paris he became a cultural editor of the newspaper Luxemburger Wort (1975-1978) and editor in chief of the weekly magazine Télécran (1978-1990).

As a broadcast producer he worked for RTL, Deutschlandfunk, Deutsche Welle, Saarländischer Rundfunk and, since 1993, for Luxembourg's public broadcaster 'radio 100.7'.

He was an active member of Jeunesses Musicales Luxembourg from 1968 to 2000, as Executive Secretary, Board Member and General Secretary. In the International Federation of Jeunesses Musicales, he was president of the Communications Committee.

Remy Franck lectured in Austria, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg and Poland. He has been the producer of CDs for various international labels, and as narrator he recorded works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Debussy, Chappell and Pierné.

Since 2009 he is the Jury President of the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA). He was also a jury member of the Mahler Record Prize in Toblach, Italy, from 1998 to 2015.

In 1991 he founded the musical magazine Pizzicato (

Remy Franck, Photo: Nicole Junio

Sabine Frank

For over 10 years now Sabine Frank has concerned herself intensively with both strategic planning and enduring management of international artist careers. In 2005 she was appointed Managing Director of HarrisonParrott GmbH, and remains at the helm today, as part of one of the most prominent artist agencies in the world.

Innovation and creativity are her special watchwords, as is a professional, authentic and individual approach to partnerships between artists represented and other colleagues in music industry. Her background includes the roles of a peripatetic instrumental teacher, a BBC editor in London, and later a Label Manager of RCA Red Seal with the Bertelsmann Music Group. Thus, contacts were made early on to prominent artists such as Vesselina Kasarova, Evgeny Kissin and Steven Isserlis.

At present she is responsible for the career welfare of established musicians such as Benjamin Schmid, Sol Gabetta, Constantinos Carydis and Martin Grubinger. Sabine Frank is also heavily engaged in building the careers of younger artists such as the Dutch violinist Noa Wildschut. In addition she supports a highly innovative project: TONALi in Hamburg, and is not only a regular jury member of the competition but also acts as an advisor to an entirely new generation of musicians.

Along with her music studies, Sabine Frank studied German Philology, History and Musicology at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, as well as pursuing post-graduate studies at University College in the University of London.

Sabine Frank, Photo: HarrisonParrott

John Gilhooly

John Gilhooly became Director of Wigmore Hall in 2005, making him, then, the youngest leader of any of the world’s great concert hall and has overseen the artistic, financial and administrative transformation of the Hall over the past 18 years. His tenure has produced record box office returns and the Hall’s highest ever membership levels and annual fundraising.

As Artistic Director of Wigmore Hall, he programmes the largest chamber series in the world. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in 2015 was made a Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of Finland. John has also received the prestigious Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, and the Order of the Star of Italy (Cavaliere), awarded by the President of Italy. In 2016 he was awarded the German Order of Merit, which is Germany’s highest civilian honour. He is a recipient of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music (2006), Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Music (2012), Honorary Fellowship of the Guildhall School (2015), and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Irish Academy of Music (2016).

John Gilhooly, Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

Ulf Hoelscher

Ulf Hoelscher studied in Heidelberg with Bruno Masurat and in Cologne with Max Rostal, finishing his studies in the US with Josef Gingold and Ivan Galamian. He has enjoyed decades of extensive international concert activity with the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Vienna Symphony, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Paris etc. under such conductors as Gary Bertini, Kurt Masur, Vaclav Neumann, Marek Janowski, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, Jeffrey Tate, Klaus Tennstedt, Hans Vonk and Bruno Weil.

His CD productions include concertos by Beethoven, Berg, Bruch, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Korngold, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Schoeck, Spohr, Tschaikowsky and Wolf Ferrari. His chamber music recordings include works by Schubert, Bruch, Pfitzner and others.

From 1981 until 2010 Ulf Hoelscher was professor for violin at the Karlsruhe College of Music.

Ulf Hoelscher, Photo: private

Danjulo Ishizaka

After receiving first prize in both the ARD Competition and Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann, Danjulo Ishizaka is today ranked among the most outstanding cellists of his generation internationally.

Danjulo, born into a German-Japanese family in Bonn, received his first cello lessons at the age of four. Boris Pergamenschikow, with whom he studied at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin from 1998 until 2004, has been a fundamental influence on him, both artistically and personally. From 2004 to 2006, he studied at the Academy with Tabea Zimmermann.

At the end of 2012, Danjulo was honored with the Hideo Saito Memorial Fund Award, one of Japan’s biggest music awards, presented by the Sony Music Foundation in Tokyo. On his debut CD with Sony BMG, he recorded sonatas by Britten, Franck and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy with pianist Martin Helmchen. In 2006, the CD was awarded the “Echo Klassik” award of the German Phonographic Academy. In 2014, he was awarded the Gramophone Award for the Chamber Music Recording of the Year for his recording of the Schubert String Quintet with the Pavel Haas Quartet.

His international concert schedule regularly takes him throughout Europe, Asia and the US. He has been performing around the world with leading orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera National de Paris, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, to mention a few. Among others, he performed under the baton of such famous conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Jurowski, Michael Sanderling and Leonard Slatkin.

Danjulo performs on the Wolfgang Schnabl cello, formerly played by Boris Pergamenschikow and provided by the Kronberg Academy, as well as the Stradivarius cello ‘Feuermann’ (1730) on loan to him from the Nippon Music Foundation, previously played by the legendary cellist Emanuel Feuermann.

Danjulo is Professor of Violoncello at the Music Academy Basel and at the University of the Arts Berlin (“Universität der Künste Berlin”).

Danjulo Ishizaka, Photo: Marco Borggreve

Jens F. Laurson

Jens F. Laurson is either listening to music or writing about it. As a musical omnivore, he enjoys anything from Guillaume de Machaut to Erkki-Sven Tüür, but he is particularly enamored by the bevvy of neglected 20th romantic century composers such as Othmar Schoeck, Mieczysław Weinberg, and Walter Braunfels. He has contributed several chapters on exactly such composers to the second edition of “Surprised by Beauty – A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music” (Robert R. Reilly, Ignatius Press).

Laurson, a one-time Regensburg cathedral chorister, got his start writing about classical music at the Washington Post, thanks to Tim Page. He has written classical music columns for Washington’s WETA 90.9,, and and contributed to Listen Magazine and the Claremont Review of Books. He has worked for Vienna’s Konzerthaus and collaborated with several record labels. His writing has won him a Deems Taylor Award granted by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Jens F. Laurson, Photo: Aurelia Stechauner

Nils Mönkemeyer

Artistic brilliance and innovative programming are the trademarks with which Nils Mönkemeyer has rapidly made his name as one of the most internationally successful violists, and dramatically raised the profile of his instrument.

Under his exclusive contract with Sony Classical, Mönkemeyer has released numerous CDs over the past years, all of which have won critical acclaim and prestigious awards. His programmes run the gamut from rediscoveries and first recordings of original 18th-century viola literature, to contemporary repertoire and arrangements of his own. The two most recently released CDs are recordings of Walton, Bruch and Pärt with the Bamberg Symphony under the direction of Markus Poschner, and the chamber music album “Baroque”, in which Nils Mönkemeyer unveils a fascinating panorama of Bach and contemporaneous French music.

Nils Mönkemeyer works together with conductors such as Andrej Boreyko, Sylvain Cambreling, Elias Grandy, Christopher Hogwood, Cornelius Meister, Mark Minkowski, Kent Nagano, Michael Sanderling, Clemens Schuldt, Karl-Heinz Steffens, Markus Stenz, Mario Venzago and Simone Young, performing as a soloist with ensembles including Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bern Symphony Orchestra, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, Hamburg Philharmonic, Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Weimar Staatskapelle, Bremen Philharmonic, Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Berlin Barock Solisten.

The 18/19 season takes him once again onto the greatest international concert platforms, including the Wiener Musikverein, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, London’s Wigmore Hall, Barcelona’s L’Auditori, Brisbane, Lausanne’s Salle Métropole, Geneva’s Victoria Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, the Elbphilharmonie, Cologne Philharmonie, Dresden Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper and Munich’s Prinzregententheater. Numerous festival appearances include the Mito Festival in Milan and Turin, the Montreal Bachfest, Rheingau Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Chamber music projects for this season include trios with Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott, and piano quartets with Alina Ibragimova, Christian Poltera and William Youn.

Mönkemeyer has been a professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich since 2011 - the same institution at which he himself studied with Hariolf Schlichtig. Previous tenures include a two-year professorship at the Carl Maria von Weber University of Music in Dresden, and an assistant professorship at the Reina Sofia College of Music in Madrid.

Nils Mönkemeyer, Photo: Irène Zandel

Anna Picard

Anna Picard studied voice, piano and harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and with Dr Thomas Lo Monaco in New York. She worked in the field of early music, with groups including the Gabrieli Consort, the Tallis Scholars, the Academy of Ancient Music and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, before moving into journalism.

From 2000-2013 she was classical music critic of the Independent on Sunday. In 2013, she joined The Times. She is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and BBC Radio Three’s Record Review, reviewing new releases of repertoire from madrigals and motets to chamber music, symphonies and contemporary music, and scripting and presenting the programme’s Building a Library segment on Purcell Songs, Handel’s Orlando, Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, and Puccini’s Il tabarro.

In 2017, she joined Opera Holland Park in the newly created role of research and repertoire consultant, working across the company’s production and communications departments to develop its programme of interdisciplinary talks and panel discussions. In 2018, she was awarded an associateship of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) for her work as a writer and broadcaster on classical music.

Picard Anna, Photo: Cameron Millar

Christian Poltéra

Christian Poltéra was born in Zürich. After receiving tuition from Nancy Chumachenco and Boris Pergamenschikow, he studied with Heinrich Schiff in Salzburg and Vienna.

As a soloist he works with eminent orchestras including the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Chamber Orchestra of Europe under such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Andris Nelsons and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

He also devotes himself intensively to chamber music together with such musicians as Gidon Kremer, Christian Tetzlaff, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mitsuko Uchida, Lars Vogt, Kathryn Stott, Esther Hoppe and Ronald Brautigam, and with the Auryn and Zehetmair Quartets. Together with Frank Peter Zimmermann and Antoine Tamestit, Christian Poltéra has formed a string trio, the Trio Zimmermann, which performs at most prestigious concert venues and festivals all over Europe.

In 2004 he received the Borletti-Buitoni Award and was selected as a BBC New Generation Artist.

He is a regular guest at renowned festivals (such as Salzburg, Lucerne, Berlin, Edinburgh and Vienna) and made his BBC Proms début in 2007. Christian Poltéra’s discography, which has won acclaim from the international press, reflects his varied repertoire that includes the concertos by Dvorak, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, Walton, Hindemith and Barber as well as chamber music by Prokofiev, Fauré, Beethoven and Schubert.

Christian Poltéra teaches at the Lucerne University.

Poltéra Christian, Photo: Neda Navaee

Marco Rizzi

Having won prizes at major international violin competitions (Tschaikowsky, Queen Elisabeth and Indianapolis), Marco Rizzi has attracted much attention and is especially esteemed for the caliber, strength and intensity of his interpretations. On Claudio Abbado’s recommendation he was awarded the “Europäischer Musikförderpreis” (European Advancement Award for Music).

Marco Rizzi performs regularly under the direction of distinguished conductors and prestigious orchestras in the leading European and American concert halls. Numerous contemporary works have been dedicated to him by composers such as A. Corghi, L. Francesconi, F. Vacchi, C. Galante and U. Leyendecker.

Recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Amadeus, Nuova Era, Dynamic, Warehouse and other labels document his versatile artistic activities. His CD recordings of 20th century Italian sonatas have been enthusiastically acclaimed.

Marco Rizzi is a professor at the College of Music and Performing Arts in Mannheim and teaches a master class at the renowned Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. He is invited to judicate at notable international violin competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Brussels), the Joseph Joachim Competition (Hanover) and the Paganini Competition (Genoa).

Marzo Rizzi, Photo: Timo Hecht

Erik Schumann

Erik Schumann was born in Cologne in 1982 to German/Romanian-Japanese parents. Since 2008 he has been the primarius of the Schumann Quartet, which won the Schubert Competition in Graz in 2012, the 1st Grand Prix at the Quatuors à Bordeaux in 2013 and the Jürgen Ponto Prize 2014. As a Chamber Music Society artist at Lincoln Center since 2016, the Schumann Quartet is playing concerts in the US for three years.

The ensemble plays regularly in concert halls such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall in London, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Vienna Musikverein and plays at all well-known festivals at home and abroad.  In 2017, their CD “Landscapes” was awarded the annual German Record Critics’ prize. A new recording, „Intermezzo“, was released in May, 2018 and has been highly praised.

Erik Schumann’s career also features regular appearances with orchestras in Europe, Asia and the United States. These include the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, the Bamberg Symphony, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre National de France, the Sinfonia Varsovia, the BBC Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the NHK Orchestra Tokyo as well as the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. and the Chicago Symphony.

He has worked with Christoph Eschenbach, Gianandrea Noseda, Jiří Bělohlávek, Muhai Tang, Vassily Sinaisky, Günther Herbig, Marin Alsop, Howard Griffiths, Toshiyuki Kamioka, Juanjo Mena, Michael Sanderling, Matthias Pintschers, David Afkham, Leoš Svárovský and other conductors.

Erik Schumann is regularly invited to perform at festivals such as the Salzburg Easter Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Kissinger Summer, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, the Pacific Music Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Mozartfest Schwetzingen, the Rheingau Music Festival and the Ravinia Music Festival Chicago.

Erik Schumann’s interpretation of Johannes Brahms’ monumental violin concerto with the Nuremberg Symphony under the baton of Alexander Shelley appeared in the spring of 2015.

Since 2013 he has been professor for violin at the College of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt/Main.

Erik Schumann plays a violin made by G. F. Pressenda in 1830, a cordial loan from a private owner.

Erik Schumann, Photo: Kaupo Kikkas