GAIA 2024

Amandine Beyer


Amandine Beyer's performances lead audiences off the beaten track, 'excite' the imagination, connect with dreams and create a sense of joyful bliss – according to one of the  many enthusiastic reviews she has received. The French Baroque violinist gifts her  audience with dreamlike moments and takes them on a journey to distant times. While leading her listeners into the vast realm of the imagination, she simultaneously blazes a trail through recording history as her interpretations are often used as reference for historically informed outstanding exampler. Her recording of J. S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas in 2012 received numerous international awards (including the Diapason d'or de l'année, Choc de Classica de l'année, Editor's choice of Gramophone, Prix Academie Charles Cros, Excepcional de Scherzo). Beyer has appeared in many of the world’s leading concert halls and festivals, including the Innsbrucker Festwochen and the Festival de Sablé. She first completed her studies at the Paris Conservatoire before specialising in Baroque violin at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. In 2001, she won first prize at the Antonio Vivaldi Competition in Turin. In 2006 she founded the ensemble "Gli Incogniti", which is dedicated to historical performance practice, the rediscovery of forgotten music, experiments with timbres and, as the ensemble's name suggests, the unknown; the repertoire ranges from Corelli and Vivaldi to Mozart. Since 2010 she teaches at the Schola Cantorum Basel and holds masterclasses worldwide.

Nicolas Dautricourt


Nicolas Dautricourt – where has he not performed? From American concert halls (including the Kennedy Center) to Europe's most prestigious venues (Salle Pleyel), from Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall to Japan, Nicolas travels expansively and regularly performs with renowned orchestras such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National de France under conductors including Leonard Slatkin, Paavo Järvi and Kazuki Yamada, amongst others. He has won prizes at international competitions (Belgrade, Lipizer, Wieniawski) and studied in Bloomington (Indiana) and Paris with Philippe Hirschhorn, Miriam Fried and Jean-Jacques Kantorow. Although his biography and artistic work are closely interwoven with extensive travel, he is a member of the Ensemble Midtvest based in Denmark and has a particular attachment to France: He has taught at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional in Versailles since 2021 and is artistic director of the Fêtes Musicales de Corbigny. In 2021, he received the title “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” from the French Ministry of Culture. His constant companion: the "Château Pape-Clément" violin by Antonio Stradivari (Cremona 1704), supplied by Bernard Magrez.

Jonian Ilias Kadesha


It may sound contradictory to attain freedom through spreading roots but this follows Jonian Ilias Kadesha’s conviction. As an interpreter of early music, he immerses himself in the traditions of the past with the help of philosophical and rhetorical studies to freely shape his playing within this framework. As a soloist and chamber musician, he strikes a balance between freedom and musical text by improvising his own cadenzas and ornaments. He is co-founder of the award-winning Trio Gaspard, a member of the Kelemen Quartet and has shared the stage with musicians such as Martha Argerich, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Steven Isserlis and András Schiff. Since 2017, he has been artistic director of the Caerus Chamber Ensemble which he founded. He grew up as an Albanian in Greece and studied with Antje Weithaas, Hatto Beyerle and others in Germany - his violin, the "ex-Moser" Guarneri del Gesú (1743), is on loan from a private collection.

Gwendolyn Masin

Violin, Founder and Artistic Director

Gwendolyn Masin relentlessly finds new ways to make more music more accessible. A violinist, musicologist, educator, author and artistic director ¬– not even the pandemic could stop her. In 2020, she took her unique holistic masterclass “The Exhale” online. With a team of 90 artists, she created more than 1000 classes for over 2000 participants. Gwendolyn is passionate about promoting contemporary music and regularly commissions and premiere works by emerging composers. During her violin studies in London, Berne, Zurich and Lübeck – including Herman Krebbers and Ana Chumachenco – she received degrees with highest honours and completed her doctorate in 2012 with a thesis on violin pedagogy. Concerts take her all over Europe and the United States as well as Asia, South Africa, and the Middle East. Tours and live recordings include concertos and virtuoso repertoire with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Hungarian National Philharmonic, Savannah and Georgia Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Bernese Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician and collaborative artist, she has shared the stage with Mihaela Martin, István Várdai, Gavriel Lipkind, Finghin Collins, Kit Armstrong, Lukas Hartmann and Andreas Schaerer, amongst others.

Minna Pensola


Minna Pensola; a cat lover, mother of two daughters – she has ran a club in Helsinki since 2008. It is no ordinary club: it is a place where the bartender mixes the next cocktail to the rhythm of Beethoven's Grosser Fuge. Pensola is also a founding member of the successful Meta4 String Quartet, a soloist and lecturer at the Sibelius Academy and the European Chamber Music Academy (ECMA). She plays a 1732 Carlo Bergonzi violin provided by the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation. Since 2021, she has been artistic director of the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival together with her husband Antti Tikkanen. It is not her first experience as artistic director: from 2006–2012 she directed the Finnish Sysmä Sounds Summer Festival. Minna Pensola studied with Kaija Saarikettu, Ana Chumachenco, Josef Rissin and Hatto Beyrle, among others in Helsinki, Zurich, and at the European Chamber Music Academy.

Antti Tikkanen


It all began when Antti Tikkanen took his first violin lesson at the age of seven. This was one of those special moments that are said to shape people for life. Ten years later, he began his studies at the Sibelius Academy with Mi-Kyung Lee. His path led him to the Conservatoire of Lyon and much later back to the Sibelius Academy, where he dedicated himself to the Baroque violin. Baroque music played a particular role for him from 2014-2017: he was the artistic director of the Finnish Baroque Orchestra. Chamber music plays a key role in his musical work too. Tikkanen studied at ECMA (European Chamber Music Academy), is a member of the Meta4 Quartet and leads the PuKama Chamber Music Association together with his wife Minna Pensola. The association aims to find new ways of reaching audiences and is coaching young musical talents as well. Alongside Minna he also directs Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, since 2021. Antti teaches at the Sibelius Academy and is artistic partner of the Joensuu Orchestra for the seasons 2022-2024. He plays the Stradivarius violin "ex-Berglund" on loan from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Wouter Vossen


Violinist Wouter Vossen is also music interpreter when he performs with the Dutch Residentie Orkest: as the orchestra's concertmaster, he is responsible for the translation and transformation of the conductor's ideas into practical playing instructions for the musicians. He is also a member of the Storioni Trio, named after an Italian violin maker, and when Wouter plays a Storioni violin from 1794 in this context, he succeeds in combining the name of the instrument maker with an immediate sound experience. The trio is the artistic director of the Storioni Festival, which also aims to make live music accessible to people who are no longer able to attend concerts. Wouter Vossen's first role model was a member of his own family: he was inspired by his uncle, the concertmaster Willy Busch. Busch led him to study in Amsterdam with Herman Krebbers and with Chaim Taub in Tel Aviv. Today, Wouter lives in Amsterdam with his wife and two children. Ricky the dachshund is also an important member of the family. Together they try to help people in need in conflict-ridden Georgia, the home country of Wouter’s wife.

Tomoko Akasaka


The ARD International Music Competition is undoubtedly one of the largest and most prestigious classical music competitions of which violist Tomoko Akasaka was awarded the 3rd prize in 2004. Other competitions have also recognised Tomoko's talent – for example, she won 1st prize at the 12th Japanese Classical Music Competition. She has performed as a soloist with major orchestras, including the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and as a chamber musician with Mstislav Rostropovich, Gidon Kremer and Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Tomoko Akasaka was assistant to her professor Nobuko Imai at the Geneva Conservatoire and guest professor at the Neuchâtel Conservatoire. Since 2019 she has her own professorship for viola at the Musikhochschule Münster.

Gareth Lubbe

Viola / Voice

Gareth Lubbe explores music from many perspectives – as a violinist and violist he traverses melodies, as a pianist he travels through harmonies, as a conductor he coordinates a large orchestra, and as a composer he puts his own musical ideas on paper. By chance, he also discovered overtone singing and has become one of the world's leading artists in this unique field. Let's start at the beginning however: Gareth Lubbe grew up in Johannesburg (South Africa) and began playing the violin and piano at the age of four. In 1994, he had the honour of performing at the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela. He then went to Germany to study violin and chamber music, studying viola with Barbara Westphal. From 2007 to 2014, he was principal violist of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly. As a soloist he appeared with the Symphonie Orchester Berlin and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, among others. Gareth has been Professor of Viola at the Folkwang University of the Arts since 2013, succeeding Vladimir Mendelssohn. He is a regular member of the renowned Spectrum Concert Series at the Berlin Philharmonie and his chamber music partners include Janine Jansen, Mischa Maisky and Torleif Thedeen. Gareth is an international ambassador for the “Denis Goldberg House of Hope”, an art and cultural social project for Cape Town’s impoverished youth.

Martin Moriarty


Young, Irish, contemporary – these three adjectives could define violist Martin Moriarty. He received his first music lessons from Gwendolyn Masin’s parents and recently completed his masters at the Zurich University of the Arts under the guidance of Lawrence Power. Despite his age, he has already gained popularity. His passion for contemporary music has led him to work with personalities such as Garth Knox and Helena Winkelman and to perform the Czech premiere of James MacMillan’s viola concerto. Prestigious festivals have invited him for concerts, including the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Krzyzowa Music Festival in Poland, the Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam and the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades. However, he is not only known as a violist, but also as a teacher: Martin Moriarty has already given masterclasses at the Ortús Chamber Music Festival in Ireland and assisted Mihaela Martin, Frans Helmerson, Lars Anders Tomter, Máté Szücs and Adrian Brendel at the NCH International Music Course. This summer academy has been founded by Gwendolyn Masin in Martin’s hometown Dublin. In 2024 he is assisting in the NCH IMC masterclasses once more, this time with Sarah Christian, Hartmut Rhode, Maximilian Hornung and Nicholas Rimmer.

Vashti Hunter


Vashti Hunter has been a cellist in the Trio Gaspard since 2010 and a member of the Budapest-based Kelemen Quartet since 2020. In both chamber music formations, she performs worldwide with her partner, violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha. With Trio Gaspard, she has won first prizes at the Haydn and Joachim International Competitions. During the second lockdown of the pandemic, she recorded all six Bartok quartets with the Kelemen Quartet. During recording the two renowned Hungarian teachers and composers Ferenc Rados and György Kurtag coached the Kelemen Quartet. Vashti Hunter studied in Hannover with Leonid Gorokhov and also in London and Berlin. She has attended the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove several times where she was taught by Steven Isserlis, and has since followed in the footsteps of her teachers: starting 2017, she teaches chamber music currently at Scuola di Musica in Fiesole and is violoncello professor at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität Linz as well as at the University of Music Hannover. She plays an instrument by the Italian violin maker Testore made in 1740.

Benedict Kloeckner


It is a privilege for great musicians to work with numerous famous personalities, to gain an insight into their world view, and to get to know the people behind the highly praised reviews. Benedict Kloeckner is fortunate in this respect, having shared the stage including Heinrich Schiff, Gidon Kremer, Sir András Schiff, and Anne Sophie Mutter. As a soloist, he has performed with conductors such as Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle and with renowned orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also had the opportunity to experience how contemporary composers work on different continents: he played the world premieres of Wolfgang Rihm's Concerto for 2 Cellos and Strings and Eun Hwa Cho's Cello Concerto. In addition, Benedict Kloeckner's own artistic education, which he completed in Karlsruhe and at the Kronberg Academy, has had a major influence on him. He won the OPUS Klassik Competition in 2021 and plays the cello "Ex Maurice Gendron" by Francesco Ruggieri (1680). Since 2014, he has been the director of the International Music Festival Koblenz (IMUKO).

Sandro Meszaros


Practice starts early: Swiss cellist Sandro Meszaros, born in 2000, learned how to play the cello at the age of five. Nearly twenty years later, he regularly performs as a soloist and chamber musician. He has won prizes at various competitions including first prize at the Concorso Internazionale Salieri di Legnago (Verona) and has performed with the Swiss Youth Symphony Orchestra (SJSO) in prestigious concert halls. In 2019, he left his home in Ticino to study with Thomas Grossenbacher at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He received a scholarship of Rahn-Kulturfonds in 2022. He has recently started studying with Maximilian Hornung in Munich and won a position within Tonhalle Orchester Zurich in January 2024. This year is his second time at the GAIA Festival.

Amy Norrington


For Amy Norrington, one of the greatest joys of being a cellist is the exchange of musical ideas between people and the communication of the love of the music to an audience. In chamber music, she particularly loves the way musicians interact with each other – keenly listening and helping to improve.  A passionate chamber musician, she is a member of the Valo String Quartet and has a duo with Piet Kuijken with whom she has recently recorded an album of the two sonatas for cello and piano by Johannes Brahms. Amy founded her own festival, “Resonances”, which takes place annually in Belgium. She finds great fascination with the close resemblance of the cello to the human voice. She studied with Alexander Baille at the Royal Academy in London and with Steven Doane in the USA and has found great inspiration with lessons and guidance from Steven Isserlis. As well as performing regularly, she teaches cello at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven and chamber music at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent.

Lars Schaper

Double Bass

Born in Hamburg, Lars Schaper, at the age of six, started playing the violin. When he was 13 years old, he accidentally discovered a larger string instrument and began to take lessons on the double bass. It soon became more than just a hobby: he won first prizes in competitions such as "Jugend Musiziert" and, after leaving school, began studying double bass with Jörg Linowitzki in Lübeck. After four years, he continued his studies at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin in the class of Esko Laine. He has played in orchestras such as the Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the NDR Sinfonieorchester and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Since 2008, he is a member of the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg under the baton of Teodor Currentzis. He also likes to participate in smaller ensembles, as is evident in his chamber music performances. He plays with the demanding Mahler Chamber Orchestra and is a member of the "world's largest string quartet", the Swiss ensemble CHAARTS.

Finghin Collins


What do you need to have achieved in your life to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland? Winning the Clara Haskil Competition at the age of 22, performing as a soloist with the world's leading orchestras and recording successful albums, like pianist Finghin Collins, is one option. But that is not all Finghin Collins has achieved. A graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the Geneva Conservatoire as a student of Dominique Merlet, he has performed solo recitals in the world's major music centres. Finghin has appeared at the BBC Proms in London and was Associate Artist of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra from 2010 to 2013. He has performed the complete Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos conducting these from the piano. Finghin Collins has been Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival since 2006 and is Artistic Director of the Dublin International Piano Competition. In 2023 and 2025 he will chair the jury of the Clara Haskil Competition in Vevey, Switzerland, the competition he once won.

Danae Dörken


Danae Dörken is a German-Greek pianist who mesmerises the world of classical music. She began developing her precise technique and musical depth at the age of seven under the tutelage of Yehudi Menuhin and honed her skills through studies with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling and Lars Vogt. She regularly attends major festivals and performs with leading orchestras such as the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. The pianist not only has a close personal relationship with her sister Kiveli Dörken – the two recorded their first duo CD in 2023 and have been organising the Molyvos International Music Festival on the Greek island of Lesbos since 2015. Danae Dörken organises benefit concerts to support Greece and its musical ties to Germany and refugees. This commitment has been the subject of several reports, including on 3sat Kulturzeit and WDR.

Jeanne-Marie Lelièvre



Ivan Podyomov


It takes a lot to win a competition. It takes even more courage to challenge oneself again after winning. Following a second prize at the ARD International Competition in 2007, Russian oboist Ivan Podyomov dared to face the jury again. With success. In 2008, he won the International Competition at the Prague Spring Festival, in 2009 the International Oboe Competition in Karuizawa, in 2010 he was awarded the Audience Prize at the Concours de Genève, and in 2011 he again won second prize at the Munich ARD Competition –  in an edition that saw no first prize awarded. Throughout these years, he studied at the Geneva Conservatoire with Maurice Bourgue. The world of classical music started to pay attention to Ivan thanks to his great success at competitions. Ivan Podyomov has hence been invited as a soloist by festivals and orchestras all over the world. He has played at the Lucerne Festival, the Salzburger Festspiele and with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to name but a few. He also teaches at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Calogero Palermo


Calogero Palermo had his first positions as principal clarinettist at a very young age with the orchestras of the Teatro V. Bellini (Catania), the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, the Orchestre National de France, Paris, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Today, he is principal clarinettist of the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich. Such a role requires not only the highest technical and musical standards but brings with it a great deal of responsibility. A responsibility to be in constant contact with the conductor and to play every note with precision – because a mistake will be noticed immediately. He is not only in demand as part of the orchestra, but also as a soloist. He has performed with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as many others. He passes on his experience in his didactic book "Soli d'orchestra" and as a lecturer at masterclasses. He studied at the Palermo Conservatory and with Thomas Friedli in Geneva.

Daniel Mota


Seit 2018 ist Daniel Mota in den Konzerten des Berner Sinfonieorchesters als Solofagottist zu hören. Der Portugiese erhielt mit zwölf Jahren den ersten Instrumentalunterricht in seiner Heimatstadt Viana do Castelo, die im Norden Portugals direkt am Meer und an der Mündung des Flusses Lima liegt. Sechs Jahre später zog er entlang der Meeresküste in Richtung Süden bis nach Lissabon, wo er sein Bachelorstudium bei Franz Dörsam und Rui Lopes absolvierte. Danach führte ihn seine Reise über die portugiesische Landesgrenze hinaus ins benachbarte Spanien, in dessen Hauptstadt er sein Studium fortsetzte. Auf seinem weiteren Weg in Richtung Zentraleuropa übersprang er Frankreich und übersiedelte im Jahr 2015 direkt in die Schweiz nach Zürich. Dort studierte er während der nächsten vier Jahre bei Giorgio Mandolesi. Er trat mit verschiedenen nationalen und internationalen Orchestern auf, wie dem Orquestra Sinfonica de Madrid, Orchestre de Paris und dem Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. In der Saison 2017-2018 war er zweiter Solofagottist des Orquestra Clássica do Sul (Portugal) bis er 2018 seine Solistenstelle im Berner Symphonieorchester annahm. Neben seiner Tätigkeit als Solofagottist tritt er regelmässig in verschiedenen Kammermusikformationen auf.

Olivier Darbellay


Olivier Darbellay studied two instruments simultaneously: cello with Patrick Demenga and Peter Hörr, and horn with Thomas Müller and David Johnson in Berne. He decided to carry on playing the horn and continued his studies in Fribourg with Bruno Schneider where he graduated with distinction. He also studied natural horn at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Two years after finishing his studies, he won the competition of the Communauté des Radios publiques de langue française and immediately afterwards the first prize of the Tribune Internationale des Jeunes Interprètes in Lisbon. Since then, he has performed as a soloist and chamber musician with leading orchestras (like Tokio Sinfonietta, amongst others) and musical personalities such as Sol Gabetta. His performances focus on the interpretation of contemporary repertoire which he performs with the Collegium Novum Zurich. He is also passionate about baroque music, an epoch whose sound he explores with the natural horn. Olivier Darbellay gives workshops in Europe and Asia and teaches at the music universities Fribourg (HEMU) and Lucerne (HSLU).

ORIGIN Ensemble

Direction: Gwendolyn Masin

Violins: Jiska Lambrecht, Manon Leutwyler, Gwendolyn Masin
Viola: Martin Moriarty
Cello: Sandro Meszaros
Bass: Lars Schaper

In the ORIGIN ensemble, individual musicians come together to form a new, unique personality. After many years of artistic partnership between the members, some of whom were students of Gwendolyn Masin or her parents, the ORIGIN ensemble has opened up completely new possibilities for musical expression. Gwendolyn Masin uses this extraordinary sound, which resembles the human voice, as a musical representation of her multicultural roots in Central Europe: with a great feeling for the typical syncopated and percussive rhythms. Not only does the ensemble bring together otherwise geographically separated cultural currents, but also aims to bridge the generation gap through involvement of young master students and recent graduates.

Folk music ensemble Alpinis


They are young, professional and curious: the folk music ensemble Alpinis is made up of students from the HSLU folk music programme. Their history goes back to their foundation in 2009 and since then they have performed in different sizes and formations. In addition to traditional alpine folk music, they are curious to cross the borders to other musical trends. They integrate classical, pop and jazz into their music. The Alpinis are led by Christoph Pfändler.



In Basel, these young international students and alumni of the Schola Cantorum have come together to form a unique ensemble. They share the desire to revive the music of the 17th and 18th centuries and to come as close as possible to the sound effects of the time. The ensemble achieves this by approaching the music from different perspectives: they conduct research into historical playing practice, examine traditional sources, work with copies of historical instruments and are also multi-instrumentalists, so that they can perform in different formations - just like the musicians in the Baroque era. They bring the music of the 17th and 18th centuries into our time and are constantly developing new programmatic concepts to enable this musical transfer through space and time.

Lukas Bärfuss


Lukas Bärfuss has received numerous awards for his work as a playwright, novelist, essayist, and dramaturge, including the Berlin Literature Prize in 2012, the Swiss Book Prize in 2014, and the Georg Büchner Prize in 2019. His play "Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern" (2003) is now performed in twelve languages and is one of the most interpreted modern theatre works. However, Lukas's path of becoming a sought-after artist was anything but straightforward. In his youth, he experienced poverty and homelessness and worked many jobs including tobacco picker, forklift driver, and ironworker. He also worked as a bookseller following his service in the military. After seven years, he quit his job and became a freelance writer. His novella "Die toten Männer" was published in 2002. This was followed by his novels "Hundert Tage" (2008), "Koala" (2014) and most recently "Die Krume Brot" (2023).  He has led workshops in Cameroon, Montreal and Chicago as well as in other cities. Lukas Bärfuss is a lecturer at the Hochschule der Künste Bern and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Fribourg. He currently lives in Zurich.

Melinda Nadj Abonji


The true life stories are what touches people the most. The author Melinda Nadj Abonji weaves her narrative into her second novel "Tauben fliegen auf" (Doves fly up): it tells the story of a girl who was born in Serbia but emigrates to Switzerland with her sister as a child. In her new home, she is confronted with xenophobia, while missing her family in Serbia – and the Balkan war opens painful wounds that will never heal. Melinda studied German and History at the University of Zurich and is also a musician. During her studies, she began to write stories herself. She initially appeared as a text performer, combining literature and music in her artistic performances. In 2004, she ventured into her first novel "Im Schaufenster im Frühling" before winning the German and Swiss Book Prizes for the aforementioned autobiographical work in 2010. She now lives and works in Zurich and has a son.