International Cello Project “Crossing Bows”

17.02.2024 – 22.02.2024
at 10:00

The project “Crossing Bows” took place for the first time in 2023, bringing to EAMT 16 cellists and 2 teachers from the Icelandic University of the Arts and the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus. This year’s festival will bring together students and teachers from the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, Icelandic University of the Arts, the Latvian Academy of Music, the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. The prorgamme includes public master classes and concerts. “Crossing Bows” was initiated by Henry-David Varema, cello professor at EAMT.

More info and daily schedule (in Estonian) HERE

“Crossing bows” is funded by the Nordplus programme.

Born in Denmark, the cellist Henrik Brendstrup studied at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen with Erling Bløndal Bengtsson, and later in London with William Pleeth and Ralph Kirshbaum. In 1987 he made his first tour, and shortly afterwards he became a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Henrik has worked closely with the orchestra ever since, now as an associate member.

He has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, and is a regular guest at international chamber music festivals such as Risør, Stavanger, Oslo and Lockenhaus. His numerous recordings include the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven, solo works for cello by Sofia Gubaidulina, and cello works by Chopin and Liszt which won the French “Diapason d’Or” award. In 1996, Henrik received the Danish Music Critics’ Artist’s Prize.

A very active chamber musician, Henrik has been the cellist of several leading ensembles in Denmark, such as The Danish String Quartet, the string sextet “Copenhagen Classic” and the Gefion Trio. He is Professor of cello and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music, Århus, Denmark, and gives masterclasses all over the world.

Sigurgeir Agnarsson was appointed the principal cellist of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 2017, having previously served as assistant principal cellist from 2003. Agnarsson graduated from the Reykjavík College of Music, where his teacher was Gunnar Kvaran. Further studies followed at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and at the Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf.

Since then Agnarsson has enjoyed a wide and diversified career as a performer, teacher, and organizer of various music events. He has appeared as a soloist on numerous occasions with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He has played at various music festivals, both in Iceland and abroad and appeared as a soloist with the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra, the Reykjavík Wind Orchestra and the Bochumer Symphoniker. In 2014 he was nominated as the Performer of the Year at the Iceland Music Award shared with pianist Anna Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, for their complete Beethoven cyclus.

Sigurgeir was the Artistic Director of Reykholt Chamber Music Festival from 2013 to 2020, one of Iceland’s oldest and most established summer festivals. Agnarsson teaches at the Reykjavík College of Music and at the Iceland University of the Arts. He is also one of the founders and a current board member of the Harpa International Music Academy (HIMA).

Sigurður Bjarki Gunnarsson began cello studies in his home town of Reykjavik, Iceland. He graduated from the Reykjavik College of Music in 1995 where his teacher was Gunnar Kvaran. Sigurður continued his cello studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City under the instruction of David Soyer and received a Bachelor´s degree in 1998. Sigurður enrolled in the graduate program at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1998 and received a Master´s degree under the instruction of Harvey Shapiro in 2000. 

Sigurður has performed in numerous recitals in Iceland, Scandinavia, the UK, the US, Canada and Japan in addition to solo appearances with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra. Sigurður Bjarki teaches cello and chamber music at the Iceland University of the Arts and the Reykjavík College of Music. Sigurður Bjarki has been a member of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra since 2002.

Ēriks Kiršfelds is a talented soloist, chamber musician and orchestra member. He often performs with pianists Herta Hansena and Toms Ostrovskis, violinist Sandis Šteinbergs, clarinettist Egīls Šēfers and singer Ieva Parša. He has developed concert programmes with the Perpetuum Ritmico percussion ensemble and performed with many other musicians.
Kiršfelds has premiered the work of many Latvian composers, from pieces written for solo cello to compositions for chamber ensemble and concerti. In addition to the classical cello, Kiršfelds has on occasion appeared at premieres playing electric cello, bass guitar and electronic instruments.
In Latvia, Kiršfelds has played at the Cello Cēsis, Arēna and Skaņu Mežs festivals as well as the Autumn Chamber Music Festival; he has also performed Latvian music at the Warsaw Autumn festival. He was the principal cellist of the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. He also teaches at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, Emīls Dārziņš Music High School.
For almost fifteen years since the founding of Kremerata Baltica in 1997, Kiršfelds served as the chamber orchestra’s principal cellist and frequently also as a soloist. He was a member of the Kremerata Baltica sextet and, later, of the KB6 ensemble. In addition, he has collaborated with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. Kiršfelds has led the Spīķeru String Quartet since its founding in 2011. Together they performed music of the Classical and Romantic eras as well as 20th-century music and the work of Latvian composers.
Kiršfelds studied at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School under Dzidra Račevska and at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, where he studied under professors Māris Villerušs and Eleonora Testeļeca. He continued his education with Arto Noras at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and graduated from Ivan Monighetti’s cello class at the Basel Music Academy.

Gleb Pyšniak is one of the most prominent cellists of his generation in the Baltic States. Born in 1987 in Vilnius, the young cellist made his debut as a soloist with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra on the stage of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society at the age of 14. Throughout his career, he has performed as a soloist and chamber music artist in many prestigious concert halls such as, among others, the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, Vienna Musikverein, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Rome Quirinal Palace, Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Helsinki Musiikkitalo.

In 1998, Gleb Pyšniak entered the Balys Dvarionas Music School (Vilnius, Lithuania) where he studied in the cello class of Tatjana Kuc. He continued his studies at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre with Professor Rimantas Armonas where he obtained his bachelor’s degree. In 2015, the aspiring musician earned an MA cum laude from the Vienna Conservatory in the cello class of Professor Natalia Gutman and a BA cum laude from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in the chamber music class of Johannes Meissl. During the studies Gleb Pyšniak was enriched by the master classes with Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ivry Gitlis, Heinrich Schiff, David Geringas and others. In 2019 Gleb Pyšniak joined the teaching team of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. As a soloist, he has performed with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of Porto (conducted by Alexandr Shelley), the Symphony Orchestra of Kaunas, the Moscow Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and others. He has given solo and chamber music concerts in many European countries, China, and the USA.

Gleb Pyšniak is a prize-winner of many national and international competitions including the Karl Davydov IV International Cello Competition; the 1st prize as well as a special prize winner of the VI Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Poreč, the 1st prize as well as a special prize of the August Dombrovskis VI International Competition. In 2005 he was awarded a grant of the Monsignor Kazimieras Vasiliauskas Fund. In 2006, Gleb Pyšniak received an award by Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania for the glorification of the name of Lithuania, and in 2020, he was awarded by President of the Republic of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Fabio Presgrave earned his Bachelor and Masters Degrees from The Juilliard School as a student of Joel Krosnick and Harvey Shapiro During his stay in New York, Presgrave lead an ensemble of Juilliard Cellists playing the Bachianas Brasilieiras by Villa-Lobos at Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall) with soprano Daniella Carvalho. He has appeared as a soloist with international orchestras such as Qatar Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfonica Provincial de Rosário (Argentina), Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira working with conductors such as Rafael Payare, David del Pino, Apo Hsu and Lior Shambadal. Recent recitals appearances include the EME Festival in Gijon (Spain), the Klassik in Moabit Series in Berlin, the Orchestrazentrum in Dortmund and the Kamper Konzert in Kamp Lintfort (Germany)

Amongst his pedagogical activities he has taught in Brazil’s main festivals such as Campos do Jordão, Brasilia and Salvador and given masterclasses at the Sibelius Academy in Finland, the Universität der Künste in Berlin, the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, the Wilhelms-Westfälisch Universität, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus (Denmark), Escola Profissional de Espinho (Portugal) and the Conservatorio Superior de Musica in Oviedo (Spain).

For his work in Brasil he has been awarded prizes such as “Distinguished Artist of the Year” by Jornal do Brasil and “Carlos Gomes Award” in 2006. In 2015 he took part of the jury for the Suzhou University professor search in China, and a member of the jury at the Popper Competition in Hungary.

Fabio Presgrave is a Cello Professor and Associate Director of the Music School at Federal University in Rio Grande do Norte. He has earned his Doctorate at UNICAMP (São Paulo State University in Campinas), with its focus on contemporary cello techniques and teaches in the Graduate Program of USP (São Paulo University). Presgrave holds a Post-Doctorate from Münster University (WWF-Universität) where he acted as guest teacher and developed his research collaborating with Prof. Matias de Oliveira Pinto.

Henry-David Varema studied at the Tallinn Conservatoire in Estonia, at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich and the Berlin University of the Arts, and earned his PhD at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. 

His orchestral experience includes being the principal cellist of the Estonian National Opera and appearances as a guest principal with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra of Berlin, as well as the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand. During the 2014 season, he was the associate principal cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the Berlin-based Petersen Quartet (2003–2009) Varema performed at international music venues, among others Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Théâtre du Châtelet, Munich Herkulessaal, Zurich Tonhalle, Sydney City Recital Hall.

Currently, Varema gives chamber music concerts regularly together with Ivari Ilja, Mihkel Poll, Mari Polli, Triin Ruubel, Johanna Vahermägi, and others. Varema has established a close artistic partnership with violinist Mari Poll and pianist Mihkel Poll, performing together regularly as the piano trio Poll-Varema.

He has been teaching cello and chamber music at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre since 2001, and currently holds the position of Vice-Rector for Artistic Affairs and International Relations.

Born in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Alzeny Nelo earned her Masters in Music from UFRN, and also studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris/Alfred.

Alzeny Nelo had her debut on the French lyrical scene with the operas “Les Fêtes de l’Amour et de Bachus” by Lully; “Die Zauberflöte” by Mozart and “Il Secreto di Susanna” by Wolf Ferrari. In Brazil she played characters such as Stephano in the opera “Romeo et Juliette” by Gounod at Theatro Municipal do RJ and Theatro São Pedro- SP; she was also a soloist in Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation” at the Theatro Municipal do RJ, soloist in the Araribóia Series of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Fluminense University at the Theatro Municipal de Niterói. She performed extensively Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras 5 under the direction of cellist Fabio Presgrave.

Alzeny Nelo presented the recitals at the main chamber music venues in Brazil such as Sala Cecilia Meirelles and BNDES. She was a prize winner for two consecutive years in the International Singing Competition of the “Union Française des Artistes Musiciens” and in Brazil was awarded prizes such as the Maria Callas Singing Competition -SP and First place in the 1st National Lyric Singing Competition – UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro.