Christoph Croisé


Christoph Croisé is an international concert artist. He was 7 when he received his first cello lessons with Katharina Kühne and only 17 when he made his début at Carnegie Hall New York, where he is now a regular guest. He has also performed in many other renowned concert halls such as Tonhalle Zürich, Konzerthaus Wien, Wigmore Hall London, Residenz München, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic and Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall in Baku. As a soloist he has worked with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Zürich, Munich Radio Orchestra, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz and many others. Dmitri Sitkowetski, Mayuko Kamio, Bartłomiej Nizioł, Oliver Schnyder, Oxana Shevchenko, Lorenzo Soulès and Alexander Panfilov shared the stage with him as a chamber musician. Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, his teacher since 2013, is one of his artistic mentors. Christoph is a popular guest at festivals and has won several international competitions, most recently the First Berliner International Music Competition in 2017 and the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China. His début CD with Oxana Shevchenko was published on Quartz Classics in 2015.

Isabelle van Keulen


The Dutch-born violinist Isabelle van Keulen entered the spotlight by winning the “Eurovision Young Musician of the Year” aged only 17 and has been gracing the greatest concert stages ever since. Apart from performing as a soloist with renowned orchestras, she is a passionate chamber musician giving regular concerts alongside artists such as the clarinettist Sharon Kam, mezzo-soprano Christiane Stotijn and pianist Ronald Brautigam, with whom she celebrates her 30th  shared concert anniversary in 2019.

Isabelle’s repertoire covers several eras, allowing her freedom and enriching transfers between centuries and styles. However, the oeuvres of the 20th and 21st centuries and their performance are closest to her heart.

Founding the “Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble” in 2011 was a childhood dream come true. Dedicated solely to Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Nuevo, three successful CDs and regular invitations to renowned festivals and concerts are testament to the ensemble’s integrity.

The many facets of Isabelle’s work are an expression of her fascinating artistic personality. She enchants and moves her concert audiences with the warmth, radiance and authenticity of her performances, alongside technical brilliance and an incomparable sound.

Melisma Saxophone Quartet


The international Melisma Saxophone Quartet is one of the most ambitious and promising chamber music ensembles of its generation. Jonas Tschanz, Henriette Jensen, Marijke Schröer and David Cristóbal Litago use their four national heritages to develop their very own musical language and grip their audience with surprising interpretations. After the quartet’s founding in Amsterdam in 2009, they have been invited to numerous concerts and festivals all over Europe, including the 1st Bachfestival Dordrecht  in the Netherlands, the Swiss Davos Festival and the Norwegian Festival Grieg in Bergen. In addition, the charismatic saxophone players perform on stages beyond Europe. Their tours in 2015 and 2018 led them to China, drawing audiences to the nation’s largest concert halls such as the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Peking, the Shenzhen Concert Hall and the opera Guangzhou. In the summer of 2016 the four musicians have toured Mexico working with the composer Enrique Mendoza. Their first album with recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg, György Ligeti and the contemporary Dutch composer Guillermo Lago has been published by Gateway Music.

Gwendolyn Masin

Violin, Founder and Artistic Director

Described as “a natural performer with an authority most violinists would envy” (The Irish Times), the violinist’s virtuosity is not coincidental – Ms Masin is the descendant of a long line of professional musicians from Central and Eastern Europe. Aged five, she gave her debut performance in the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Ever since, her love of the stage is tangible at every appearance: “Gwendolyn IS Music”, The Independent observed. She has performed extensively to critical acclaim, as a concert violinist with renowned orchestras, in recital, or as a soloist. Chamber music was part of her earliest musical experiences, one she still seeks out to enjoy wherever she can.

“Gliding over the pitfalls of child prodigy status,” as The Sunday Business Post remarked, she has been a regular guest on TV and radio shows and has performed to critical acclaim throughout Europe, Russia, South Africa, the Middle East, and North America as a soloist with renowned orchestras and as a chamber musician. Masin holds degrees with highest honors from the Royal Schools of Music in London; the Hochschule der Künste in Berne; and the Musikhochschule in Lübeck. Her teachers include Herman Krebbers, Igor Ozim, Ana Chumachenco, Zakhar Bron and Shmuel Ashkenasi. Not only is she an esteemed soloist and chamber musician, Masin also writes, transcribes music, and advises composers. Collaboration with contemporary artists is a large part of Masin’s repertoire. In an effort to make music more accessible, Masin commissions artists, closely working with them and performing their music or integrating their art form into her interpretations. Research and application of music methodology are an inseparable part of Masin’s undertakings. Her doctoral thesis from Trinity College examines the similarities and differences within 20th-century violin pedagogy. In 2009, the award-winning “Michaela’s Music House, The Magic of the Violin” was published by Müller & Schade. Authored by Masin, the book serves to instruct beginner violinists and has been translated into German in 2018, accompanied by the author’s personal exercises and compositions.

Presently, Masin teaches violin and chamber-music masterclasses at institutes and festivals throughout Europe and North America and gives lecture recitals and talks concerning her areas of expertise. She is Professor of Violin Studies at the Haute École de Musique de Genève, Switzerland, since September 2013.

The 2018/2019 season is a meaningful year for the musician. Following the recordings of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Violin Sonata in D Minor, Op. 27 No. 3 “Ballade” (2015) as well as her album “ORIGIN” in collaboration with Naxos (2016), and “FLAME”  released on Orchid Classics in 2017, an EP of works for violin and piano entitled „TROIS“ came out in 2018. Thus, she is currently on tour with multiple programmes: with her string ensemble or her piano partner Simon Bucher. Gwendolyn is also often on tour as a soloist. All the more reason for her to joyously return to GAIA’s diversity and incomparable, unique togetherness – which celebrates its eleventh edition in 2019.

Simon Bucher


As a soloist, improviser, chamber musician and accompanist, the Swiss pianist Simon Bucher is internationally in demand. His impressionistic, sensitive performance is acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Several engagements led him to Centre Pompidou Paris, Tonhalle Zürich, Stadttheater Bern, MoMA New York,as well as music festivals such as Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Carinthischer Sommer, Murten Classics and GAIA Music Festival. Having studied at the University of the Arts Bern with Erika Rademacher and Tomasz Herbut, he completed his training in master classes with Ruben Lifschitz and Irwin Gage. As artistic director of the concert series „Das Lied - Liedrezitale Bern“ he is a passionate promoter of the lied. Performing with him in this genre are Robin Adams, Maya Boog, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Rachel Harnisch, Stephanie Szanto and Dominik Wörner. As a soloist he works with conductors including Daniel Klajner, Tõnu Kaljuste, Michael Sanderling or Kaspar Zehnder. His interests in different music genres are wide-spread and become more than apparent in his versatile chamber music formations, his work with dancers and VJs as well as in his improvised solo recitals. With mezzo-soprano Stephanie Szanto he created the duo „Petting goes Classic“. Many of his concerts have been broadcast and several CDs have been published at ARS Produktion, Orchid Classics and Carus.

Blythe Teh Engstroem


The American violinist and violist Blythe Teh Engstroem studied at Indiana University in Bloomington with Nelli Shkolnikova (violin), Mimi Zweig (violin) and Atar Arad (viola). She later completed her studies in Pittsburgh with Andrés Cárdenes. Blythe is a passionate chamber musician and has already worked with artists such as Lisa Batiashvili, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Daniel Hope, Nobuko Imai, Leonidas Kavakos, Menahem Pressler, Gábor Takács-Nagy, István Várdai, Yuja Wang and the Quatuor Ébène. She has performed during several festivals in Europe and the Far East. The Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra was founded with her contributing a major part and she worked closely with the orchestra’s director Gábor Takács-Nagy. Blythe was the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra’s concert master and is currently the violas’ section leader.

Vladimir Mendelssohn


Vladimir was born in Bucharest, growing up in a family with a long tradition in music. Having studied viola and composition he strove for a career as a soloist and chamber musician and got the chance to travel the world, e. g. to Carnegie Hall in New York, Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Berliner Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall London or to St. Petersburg, Bucharest, Prague, South Korea, Chile and Mexico. Vladimir has recorded several CDs, with Gidon Kremer and the Lindsay Quartet to mention only two. He recorded the lieder by Brahms with Jard van Nes which gained them the AVRO Public Prize. He also made a name for himself as a composer and arranger of ballet music (≪Le Petit Prince≫), stage music (≪Athalie≫ and ≪Les Mouches≫), film scores (≪Le Joueur de Violon≫) or concerts for orchestra, solo instruments and choir. He has been living in the Netherlands for many years and works as a professor at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague as well as at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Germany.

Hannes Minnaar


Hannes Minnaar studied piano with Jan Wijn at the Amsterdam Conservatory, concluding his studies with distinction in 2009. Since then, he has performed as a soloist with various orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona under conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Eliahu Inbal and Marin Alsop. In 2008 he was awarded the 2nd prize in the Concours de Genève, in 2011 a scholarship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and in 2016 he received the highest honour for any Dutch classical artist: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science awarded him the Dutch Music Award. His three solo albums have found international acclaim and his début album has been honoured with an Edison Award. Hannes has recorded all of Beethoven’s piano concertos for Challenge Classics, together with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and Jan Willem de Vriend. But the pianist lives his love for chamber music as well: being part of the Van Baerle Trio, he won competitions in Lyon and Munich and went on tour with the “Rising stars” to London, Vienna, Paris and beyond. He has already been on stage with famous musicians like Janine Jansen, Isabelle van Keulen or Mischa Maisky and will make his Meesterpianisten series début in April 2019 in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

James Oesi

Double Bass

Originally he felt at home at the piano or playing the violin, but at age 12 James Oesi made a choice for the double bass. He was only 16 years old when he began his studies as the youngest student at the conservatory in Moscow. In 2009 he came to the conservatory in The Hague and graduated with distinction in 2012. His solo exam was such an enormous success that he was given the Fock Medaille later on. As one of the few solo bassists he has performed at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, Oosterpoort Groningen, Bachfestival Dordrecht as well as at the November Music, Cross-Linx and Wonderfeel festivals. Having founded the Dutch Double Bass Festival in 2017 and in his capacity as its artistic director, he has brought top international artists to The Hague, such as John Patitucci, Edicson Ruiz or Gary Carr. In addition his solo activities, James is an in-demand chamber musician and regular guest for Insomnio, the Ensemble Modern, Asko|Schönberg and many more. James joined the Asko|Schönberg ensemble led by Reinbert de Leeuw for their recording of György Kurtág’s complete works, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium in 2017. Apart from that he works as an assistant for his former teacher Quirijn van Regteren Altena at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

Dóra Kokas


Dóra Kokas has already established herself as one of the leading cellists of her generation, be it as a soloist or chamber musician. In 2017 she won the 1st prize at the Hamburg-Debut International Competition, 2nd prize at the International Johannes Brahms Competition in 2016 and two special prizes at the Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Budapest in 2014. In 2015 she has received the Gundel Art Prize as well as the Junior Prima Prize. Dóra studied at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy with Professor Miklós Perényi. Currently she is a student of the Razumovsky Academy in London in the class of Professor Oleg Kogan, having attended master classes with János Starker, Mischa Maisky, Steven Isserlis, Gary Hoffman, Jens-Peter Mainz, Ferenc Rados and others. As a founding member of the prize-winning Kelemen Quartet she has become one of Hungary’s leading musicians. Her chamber music partners included Joshua Bell, Ferenc Rados, Zoltán Kocsis, Nicolas Altstaedt, Maxim Rysanov, Vilde Frang, Peter Frankl, Boris Brovtsyn, Alexander Sitkowetski and Ilya Gringolts. Many of the most famous concert halls in Europe have seen her perform as a soloist, such as the Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Rachmaninov Concert Hall Moscow, Laeiszhalle Hamburg or Budapest Liszt Academy Grand Hall.

Christoffer Sundqvist


Christoffer is principal clarinettist of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2005. He graduated from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 2002 after studies with Anna-Maija Korsimaa, and won the renowned Crusell competition as well as the Juvenalia Chamber Music competition in Espoo the same year. He is invited as soloist with almost all Finnish and international orchestras, such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra Basel and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie and worked with conductors like Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgårds, Okko Kamu, Karl-Heinz Steffens and Hannu Lintu. Christoffer is part of several chamber music ensembles and performs with Angela Hewitt and others. Alongside his constant duo partner Sebastian Fagerlund he works as director of the RUSK Chamber Music Festical in Jakobstad. His recordings include the clarinet concerts of Fagerlund, Sallinen, Eötvös, Nielsen and many more. They have been internationally acclaimed and awarded an EMMA. Christoffer teaches clarinet at the Sibelius Academy and offers regular master classes.

Kirill Troussov


Kirill’s career began with support from Sir Yehudi Menuhin and led to him being one of the most renowned violinists of his generation.

He studied with Zakhar Bron und Christoph Poppen, and has been mentored by Igor Oistrach, Herman Krebbers and Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Working with well-known conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Wladimir Fedossejew, Daniele Gatti, Lawrence Foster, Jiří Bělohlávek, Michail Jurowski and Louis Langrée and with orchestras like Staatskapelle Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Münchner Philharmoniker and Bamberger Symphoniker, he has performed in the world’s largest concert halls and at music festivals of highest renown. As a passionate chamber musician he regularly works with artists like Sol Gabetta, Yuja Wang, Julian Rachlin, Daniel Hope, Joshua Bell, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Natalja Gutman, Christian Zacharias, Juri Baschmet, Mischa Maisky or Elisabeth Leonskaja. His international awards include the Europäische Kulturpreis, the Davidoff-Preis of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Yamaha Music Award as well as several prizes in international competitions. Kirill’s recordings – for EMI Classics and others – have also been honoured with prizes.

He plays the 1702 Antonio Stradivari, “The Brodsky”, lent from a private collector, on which Adolph Brodsky debuted Peter Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto on 4 December 1881.

Stephanie Szanto


A freelance singer, Stephanie Szanto performs in concerts, oratorios and operas. In addition to working as a soloist, she is a renowned vocal teacher and composer. Born in Burgdorf, Switzerland, she studied classical singing at Bern University of Arts with Professor Elisabeth Glauser, followed by studies and degrees at the Swiss Opera Studio and the Lucerne School of Music. She earned her Master of Solo Performance with top marks with Professor Barbara Locher and attended master classes with Cornelia Kallisch, Margreet Honig and Rudolf Pernay. During her studies she won numerous competitions and scholarships, including the award for Young Music Talent of the Foundation Meggen or the prize of the Nicati-de Luze Foundation Lausanne. In 2013 her scholarship from the Swiss Richard Wagner Society won her an invitation to Bayreuth and she was also awarded a scholarship from the Hirschmann Foundation. As a duo with the pianist Marina Vasilyeva she received the 3rd prize of the 2015 Lyceum Club International Music Competition. Apart from her classical training she also accomplished studies in Jazz Vocal and composition and worked in numerous projects of various styles like jazz, funk, drum’n’bass or electronic music. In the genre of lied, Stephanie is very active and creates new programmes with the pianist Simon Bucher.

Haas & Mann

Dance. Theatre. Music.

Stage artists juggling plays, music and performance: Haas&Mann find their place between art forms and create magical and unforgettable theatre experiences. Moving, poetic, imaginative or witty – interaction with their audience creates moments of contemplation, critical thinking and shared emotion. Dance, theatre and music merge into one tangible experience of art. We promise you a family concert with a lovingly staged story of friendship, music and dreams in cooperation with the Melisma Quartet.

Dobrinka Tabakova


“Glowing tonal harmonies”, “avant-garde”, “huge emotional depth” – the internationally critically-praised composer and pianist Dobrinka Tabakova will enrich GAIA Music Festival 2019 with some familiar pieces as well as a Swiss premiere. Originally from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, she graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and holds a PhD in composition from King’s College London. Since then she has created music for films (e. g. Jean-Luc Dodar’s “Adieu au langage” or Ruth Paxton’s “Pulse”), ballet (e. g. Sydney Dance Company) as well as orchestra, choir and solo instruments. She tackles a vast variety of forms, sources and topics, ranging from a cantata for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary to a prize-winning anthem for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and a “Fantasy Homage to Schubert”.
As guest composer or composer-in-residence, she left a mark on the musical programmes of international festivals such as the Oxford Chamber Music Festival, the Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival or the Musicarama Festival in Hong Kong.
Her début album “String Paths” was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 and reached No. 2 in the UK's Specialist Classical charts. Her works have been honoured with the Jean-Frédéric Perrenoud prize, the GSMD Lutoslawski Composition Prize, the Sorel Medallion in Choral Composition and other international awards. She was resident with the Leipzig MDR Orchestra for the 2017/18 season and is currently the first female composer to be commissioned for a long-term residency with the Truro Cathedral. As President of the Contemporary Music Society of Guildhall School of Music & Drama she sets out to promote music by living composers.