Benjamin Moser had his first piano lessons at the age of six. Very early on, he was admitted as a university-level piano student in the piano class of Michael Schäfer at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, then went on to Berlin to study with Klaus Hellwig. Moser won a great number of competitions, including the International Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York in 2007. That same year he was among the prizewinners at the renowned Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition, where he garnered the prize for the best interpretation of Tchaikovsky, as well as the audience prize. “The young pianist from Munich is an artist of compelling musicianship, always placed in the service of the music as written”, noted the daily Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. Benjamin Moser appears in piano recitals and as a soloist with renowned orchestras, collaborating with conductors such as Andris Nelsons, Wojciech Rajski and Fuad Ibrahimov. Our audience has known him well ever since his acclaimed début at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2011, recorded and released as part of Volume 28 of the Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr.
Joseph Moog was born into a musical family in Ludwigshafen. At the age of ten he enrolled as a young student at the Academy of Music in Karlsruhe, and went on to study with Bernd Glemser and Arie Vardi. He soon embarked on an international career, reaping dozens of prizes and awards. Critics praise him as “the most interesting interpreter of his generation” and describe him as a “treasure seeker with quasi-supernatural piano technique”. Yet Joseph Moog does not view himself as a piano-performing historical archivist. Instead, he aims for the greatest degree of variety in his programmes, frequently including his own compositions. Apart from the great piano masterpieces, Moog often surprises his audiences with rarities by luminaries of the virtuoso age such as Godowsky, Rubinstein, Moszkowski and Friedman. Likewise, on his CD recordings, Moog does not tarry too long in familiar repertoire. His début performance at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2013 was recorded and now forms part of the Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr as the 100th CD in the series, contained in Vol. 32.
Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin is hailed by critics worldwide as a unique performer, combining refined musicianship and technical aplomb in one artistic personality. For many years he has been forging through piano territory that was previously almost unknown, performing and recording the music of Ives, Kapustin, Grainger, Roslavets, Godowsky, Reger, Villa-Lobos, Szymanowski and Shechedrin. Recently he has been also recording well-known masterpieces by Haydn, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin. His own impressive solo piano compositions provide further evidence of his outstanding technical abilities, his knowledge of musical styles and his readiness to tread new paths. Hamelin has appeared with many of the world’s most renowned orchestras. He records exclusively for Hyperion, which has released more than 50 of his albums. Hamelin has been nominated nine times for the Grammy Award, and has received a number of further international prizes. In 2013 Marc-André Hamelin was awarded the annual Prize of the Ruhr Piano Festival, where he performed for the first time in 1997.HERBERT SCHUCHBorn in 1979 in the Romanian town of Temesvar (Timisoara), Herbert Schuch emigrated with his family in 1988 to Germany, where he has lived ever since. He was trained by great professors such as the late Karl-Heinz Kämmerling at Salzburg Mozarteum, and Alfred Brendel is one of his mentors. The international music scene opened its doors to him when he won three important competitions within the space of one year (including the Vienna International Beethoven Competition) in 2005. Schuch was thus invited to perform at Salzburg Festival, then at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2006. Apart from having appeared with conductors of the likes of Pierre Boulez, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Jonathan Nott, Schuch has recorded seven CDs to date for the OehmsClassics label. Moreover, recordings of his performances at the Ruhr Piano Festival can be found in Vols. 14 and 18 of the Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr. Herbert Schuch volunteers for “Rhapsody in School”, an organisation founded by Lars Vogt with the goal of kindling greater interest among schoolchildren for classical music. 2014 marked the seventh time Schuch was invited to perform at the Ruhr Piano Festival.
Mirijam Contzen’s talent was discovered by Tibor Varga, the legendary Hungarian violinist, who taught her from the age of seven. When she was sixteen she won the International Tibor Varga Violin Competition; then, in 2001, she was singled out by the prestigious German ECHO Klassik Prize as Best Young Artist of the Year. Contzen has made solo appearances with orchestras such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the BBC and Helsinki Philharmonics, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Chamber music plays an essential role in Mirijam Contzen’s musical activities. She co-founded the Serafino Quartet and has performed in a variety of ensembles in the company of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Natalia Gutman, Clemens Hagen, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos, Stephen Kovacevich, Mischa Maisky and Herbert Schuch. She has been invited to perform at the Salzburg, Verbier and Rheingau Festivals as well as at MDR Summer Festival in Saxony. Her previous appearance at the Ruhr Piano Festival was in 2007, when she performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto along with Herbert Schuch and Adrian Brendel.
Giovanni Guzzo was born in Venezuela of Italian parents. He studied violin in Caracas with Emil Friedman and Luis Miguel Gonzales, then with Zakhar Bron at the Reina Sofia School of Music in Madrid and with Maurice Hasson at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His solo career has led him to concertize in the most outstanding classical music venues worldwide: in China, Japan, the US, Germany, Italy and the UK. Guzzo has shared the podium with Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell, the Takács Quartet, London Symphony Orchestra and the late conductor Sir Colin Davis. A recipient of the London Symphony Orchestra PROMS Award in 2008, Guzzo performed for the first time at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2014.
Born in 1975 in Cologne, Beate Altenburg studied cello with Irene Güdel in Detmold and with Christoph Richter at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. After her concert diploma she went on to perfect her abilities under the tutelage of Colin Carr in London at the Royal Academy of Music, where she obtained her Masters degree with honours. Altenburg has actively participated in masterclasses imparted by Steven Isserlis and other great cellists, and she has collaborated with composers such as Peteris Vasks and Peter Maxwell Davies. In 1998 she won the nation-wide Conservatory Competition at Folkwang University, and in 1999 she was a laureate of the International André Navarra Cello Competition in Toulouse. At the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Competition in 2001 she was selected for the annual scholarship awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany; one year later, she won highest honours with her diploma recital at the Royal Academy of Music. Beate Altenburg performed for the first time at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2014.
Robert Levin studied with Stefan Wolpe in New York and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Upon graduation he was invited by Rudolf Serkin to head the theory department of the Curtis Institute of Music; Levin was also Resident Director of the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau from 1979 to 1986 before taking up a professorship in the piano department of Freiburg Musikhochschule. He is President of the Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, and currently Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. As a result of intense study of the original sources, Levin has published scholarly and musically well-informed completions of a number of works left unfinished by Mozart: for instance, the Requiem and the Mass in C Minor. He has performed worldwide and has made a number of recordings, including complete cycles of the Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos. Robert Levin is one of those rare true double musical talents who truly combine theory and practice. More than just a piano-playing musicologist or a theorizing instrumentalist, Levin invariably merges virtuoso aplomb with well-informed scholarship in his performances, captivating audiences far and wide. That has clearly also occurred in the great number of concerts and recitals Levin has given at the Ruhr Piano Festival ever since his first performance here in 2006.
Jacques-Laurent Terrasson was born in 1965 in Berlin of an American mother and a French father. The family moved to Paris, where Jacky took classical piano lessons from the age of five. In his mother’s LP collection he discovered Billie Holiday and Miles Davis albums when he was twelve, and before long he was trying his hand at jazz, guided by recordings of Bud Powell, Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk. After studying classical piano in school, he went to Boston and enrolled at the renowned Berklee College of Music to specialize in jazz. After his diploma he stayed on in the US, jamming in clubs in New York City. In 1993 he won the renowned Thelonius Monk Competition; one year later, he landed a contract with the prestigious Blue Note label, for which he recorded a total of ten albums, including three with his trio. Terrasson has been on the roster of prizewinning productions featuring Michael Brecker, Cassandra Wilson and Stefon Harris, and he has collaborated on further recording projects with Charles Aznavour, Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Jacky Terrasson performed for the first time at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 1999.
COLOGNE WDR BIG BAND
As an ensemble pertaining to the WDR radio and television broadcasting entity, the Cologne WDR Big Band fulfils a mission as regional cultural ambassador – specifically in order to bring jazz music and similar styles closer to audiences all across North-Rhine Westphalia. The orchestra’s profile foresees the elaboration of variegated programmes featuring the widest possible spectrum of styles. With its international roster of members, this orchestra is also firmly rooted in European tradition, particularly in European jazz. Each member is a consummate soloist with an unmistakable timbre, thereby creating an orchestral sound with brilliant projection in the concert hall. In collaboration with internationally renowned guest conductors, composers, arrangers and soloists, the WDR Big Band puts together an annual series of concert projects covering a wide spectrum. Live performances take place not only within the WDR broadcasting territory, but also in the rest of Germany and abroad, thus increasing the big band’s outreach and notoriety. The WDR Big Band’s programme covers the entire jazz spectrum, including all styles of music related to jazz, from tradition to the avant-garde.
Michael Abene is a renowned pianist, composer and arranger. He has been the Chefdirigent (chief composer and arranger) of the WDR Big Band since 2003. Abene’s arrangements are performed by big bands and orchestras worldwide. His career takes him regularly across the globe, delighting audiences in concert performances; he has made arrangements for artists such as Randy Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Patti Austin, Mike Stern, Gary Burton, Dave Liebman, saxophonist Bill Evans, Kurt Elling, Eddie Daniels and Tom Harrell. After having taught for several years at the Manhattan School of Music, Michael Abene now holds the Chair of Jazz Ensemble Conductor at the KUG Jazz Institute in Graz, Austria.