A successful television presenter, collaborator on national Spanish networks and a columnist- interviewer for the prestigious Ohlala Magazine, Contributor in Huffington Post USA, Editor of Hansa Realty Magazine, Editor of “Creative Minds in the World of Art”, owner of the “Paganini Art Gallery” in Germany and host of this fantastic event “Paganini-honors-Paganini”.
Maria Elena is a relative of the famous violinist Niccolo Paganini, great niece of the political leader Lisandro de la Torre (one of the highest regarded men of the Argentine political scene), great-granddaughter niece of the great painter and architect Carlos de la Torre (alma mater of the first Latinn American skyscraper “Kavanagh Building” in Buenos Aires), daughter of Eduardo Lisandro Paganini de la Torre, notary and writer of several books about Greek mythology and a niece of the painter Jorge Paganini de la Torre, who’s art is exhibited in several museums in Argentina.
From young age she enjoyed a full social life that went beyond the superficial; theater, artistic exhibitions, literary workshops, political talks, although she also appreciated the glamour of the great parties in the different cosmopolitan cities she had lived: Buenos Aires, Rosario, Punta del Este, Miami, Munich, Marbella and New York. Each one of them has left its mark on the urban character of this 100% Argentine, as she likes to define herself.
Edmond, born in the Netherlands, from the well-known Fokker aviation-family, can be considered an autodidact violinist.
As a ‘renaissance man’ and polyglot he studied many things and graduated from Leiden University and Harvard Business School but it is the violin that has his heart.
He mostly learnt himself to play the violin with occasional guidance from Jaap van Zweden (great violinist, now conductor of the New York Philharmonic) and Pierre Amoyal (pupil of Heifetz).Edmond has this immense passion and fascination for the violin which made him from an early age listen to especially the old masters like Heifetz, Gitlis, Menuhin, Oistrach, Milstein, Seidel, Nadien, Perlman etc.
The great Ossy Renardy who recorded the Paganini capriccio’s, also an autodidact, is another great inspiration to him.
When at university he won first prize in the Inter-academic Chamber music Competition with Mahler’s pianoquartet and was invited to play Vivaldi’s ‘four seasons’ in the great RTL-hall in Luxemburg. He later played in the charitable peace-concert in St Moritz and during the war for the international troops in Afghanistan at Christmas 2015. He was a soloist in the lovely Bruch concerto and other violin warhorses with Holland’s oldest orchestra, Sempre Crescendo in Leiden.
As Edmond can be considered a cosmopolitan; travelling, maintaining a great network and being a people’s person he played at the most unimaginable places. From courts of Royal families to warzones.
His deep-felt love for people is best served by his ability to communicate through music, through his violin. He loves performing with musicians in many different styles, from classical music to far-out improvisations with gipsies and others.
His violin playing and charisma have the ability to touch hearts and unite audiences.
His love and admiration for Paganini is there since he first heard it, age 15. Together with his great friendship with Maria Elena Paganini these are the reasons why he is the music director of the Carnegie Hall Paganini honors Paganini-concert responsable for the artists and the program.
Edmond who played an Andrea Guarneri for quite some time plays a Guarneri del Gésu for the Paganini-concert.
Florian Leonhard has dedicated his life to studying, restoring and making violins. Today he leads his own 12-strong team of restorers in London and has offices in London and New York. Florian Leonhard Fine Violins of London deals in the finest instruments and is honoured to work with musicians throughout the world.
Florian Leonhard has been providing the expertise in the trade, preservation and use of fine Italian violins, both antique and contemporary, to German institutions. These include the Berlin Philharmonic, Deutscher Bank, Mercedes-Benz, the Kronberg Academy, and the Anne-Sophie Mutter Stiftung.
He is recognised as a world leading authority on Cremonese and Italian violin making with notable contributions through his work in articles, publications, research and lectures in Italy, Germany, the UK, and indeed throughout Europe and worldwide. His exceptional expertise has led to him acting as a consultant and provider of the finest instruments to many of theworld’s leading orchestras and soloists, including Anne Sophie Mutter, Daniel Hope, Leonidas Kavakos, Maxim Vengerov, Alina Ibragimova, Uto Ughi, Leonard Elschenbroich and many more.
After 30 years of meticulous research and experimentation, Florian finally launched his own bench copy instruments in 2010. His bench copy instruments are highly sought-after for their acoustic and visual closeness to the old Italian originals, based on Florian’s outstandingexperience in restoring and authenticating the finest examples of Italian violins. His work is now the preferred choice of the most discerning players, including the principals in the Berlin Philharmonic and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as numerous finalists in the Queen Elisabeth competition.
Florian has been a regular contributor to the ongoing research into violin making history, and has published his most recent book, The Makers of Central Italy, after conducting 10 years of in-depth research and intricate study and analysis of the instruments. Florian is currently conducting research on the Tuscan makers for a book due to be published in 2016. He has been working very closely with eminent musicologists such as Professor Gabriele Rossi-Rognoni (former curator of the Medici Collection in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence) into researching the little known makers of Florence. Additionally, Florian has been a regular contributor to publications such as Liuteria Italiana, Liuteria Moderna in Emilia Romagna, La Grande Liuteria Italiana, The Late Cremonese Violin Makers, amongst many others (seeBibliography).
Regularly called upon as a jury member for international violin competitions, Florian is the President of the Pisogne Making Competition in Cremona, and a jury member of the Tonali Competition, Kronberg Academy, Schontal Competition, and the Leopold Mozart Competition. He has also been invited to deliver speeches and lectures, in places including the Hannover Competition and the Duino masterclass. He has also appeared at the Mondomusica Music Fair for over 20 years, exhibiting outstanding Italian instruments, and given many lectures.
Florian has and continues to contribute to the historic trade in fine old Italian violins by being principally based in London, a world trade centre for Italian violins. By being very much partof London’s rich and continuing tradition, Florian has been able to build cultural bridges with his work throughout Europe and globally. His vision is profoundly influenced by the history of the international restoration and collection of fine violins and he is passionate to continue his unique profession which combines commerce with the high arts. Florian is a longstanding supporter of classical music all over the world and regularly loans his rare collection of Italian instruments to aspiring musicians and leading performers in competitions such as the Hannover Competitions in Germany. He has with the generous support of sponsors facilitated the development of talented young musicians. With the support of Deutsch bank he has acquired and lent a Guarneri del Gesú specifically for outstanding violin students.
Described by The TELEGRAPH as ‘The world’s leading expert’ in fine violins, Florian’sphilosophy is shown in his life-long passion for fine instruments and the music that they help to create. He extends the same care to talented and promising young musicians, nurturing their careers with as much attention as he has for their instruments, by sponsoring competitions and regularly lending instruments from his own collection. With such leadership, Florian Leonhard Fine Violins is set to remain one of the world class restorers and dealers of fine violins.
Serbia’s Artist of the Century, Most Humane Person, and Brand Personality of the Year, violinist Stefan Milenkovich enjoys a prolific career as an internationally sought-after soloist and recitalist, with an extraordinary productive longevity, professionalism and creativity.
Established as one of the foremost violinists of his generation, Milenkovich appeared on multiple occasions in some of the world’s most celebrated venues such as Carnegie Hall, New York City (USA), Kennedy Center, Washington (USA), Cadogan Hall, London (UK), Suntory Hall, Tokyo (Japan), as well as Italy’s theatres La Fenice, Venice, San Carlo, Naples, and Petruzzelli, Bari. His numerous appearances with orchestra include Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Chamber Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Radio-France, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Mexico State Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica de Estado de Sao Paolo, and the Melbourne and Queensland Symphonies, and has performed under the baton of such conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Lorin Maazel, Vladimir Fedoseyev, and Daniel Oren.
Milenkovich’s 2018 - 19 season includes performances with Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (Italy), New Jersey Festival Orchestra (USA), Orchestra Camera di Perugia (Italy), as well as regular performances in recital with pianist Rohan De Silva. Recent performances include collaboration with Utah Symphony Orchestra (USA), Prague Symphony Orchestra (Czech Republic), Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra (USA), Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra (USA), Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (Italy), and Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra (Slovenia).
Milenkovich started his career at a very young age. He performed for U.S. President Ronald Reagan at a Christmas concert in Washington, DC, at age 10. The following year, he played for Mikhail Gorbachev in Belgrade, Serbia. At age 14, he played for Pope John Paul II and at age 16, Milenkovich gave his 1000th concert in Monterrey, Mexico. By age 17, he was the winner of The Young Concert Artists International Competition (USA), as well as a prizewinner in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (USA), the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium), Hannover Violin Competition (Germany), Tibor Varga Competition (Switzerland), Rodolfo Lipizer Competition (Italy), Paganini Competition (Italy), Ludwig Spohr Competition (Germany), and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition (England).
Deeply committed to international humanitarian causes, in 2002 Milenkovich received the Lifting Up the World With Oneness Heart award for his humanitarian activities, handed to him personally by the guru Sri Chinmoy. He also participated in a number of gala concerts under the auspices of UNESCO in Paris with such artists as Placido Domingo, Lorin Maazel, Alexis Weissenberg, and Sir Yehudi Menuhin, and was active as the First Child Ambassador during the Balkan wars in early 90’.
As a musician of broad stylistic interests, Milenkovich performed with five-time Grammy Nominee rock band Gorillaz in one of the world's most renowned venues - Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City. The critically acclaimed performance was featured live on MTV. Recent collaborations include performances with Grammy Award Nominee lutist Edin Karamazov, as well as a musical partnership with guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and his trio, where Milenkovich explored the realm of improvisation and acoustic-electric violin.
Milenkovich’s discography includes four commercial releases of the Italian label Dynamic, featuring J. S. Bach Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Complete Music for Solo Violin – Nicolo Paganini 24 Capricci, N. Paganini Recital, and N. Paganini In cuor piu non mi sento. He also released numerous recordings for the Yugoslavian label, PGP. Milenkovich’s recent CD release includes a First Recording disc with the Manchester Music Festival of Vittorio Giannini’s Piano Trio and Piano Quintet.
Firmly dedicated to pedagogical work, Milenkovich taught in collaboration with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School in New York City, NY, and Perlman Music Program, before accepting his current position as an Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Milenkovich is still the youngest graduate of the Music Academy in Belgrade, Serbia, finishing his Masters' studies at 19 years of age, and has completed the Professional Studies program at the Juilliard School in New York City, NY under tutelage of Mrs. Dorothy DeLay.
Eighteen-year-old Kevin Zhu has amassed an outstanding record of concert performances and competition wins since he began studying violin at age three. He has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues such as London's Royal Festival Hall, Mozart Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus, Bologna’s Teatro Comunale, China's National Centre for the Performing Arts, Moscow’s International Performing Arts Center, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall, and Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts. His solo debut with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, one of the world's greatest orchestras, received a glowing review from venerable music magazine The Strad. On Kevin's performance of Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, critic Tim Homfray writes: "Zhu is just brilliant. He gave a performance of awesome technical command and maturity, in which every devilish demand put his way by Sarasate was dispatched with ease and a proper degree of dramatic flair". Amati Magazine comments on Kevin’s solo performance in Austin: "He has clearly continued to flourish, whipping through the virtuosic demands of the piece and playing with a complete command of the sultry, mature drama."
In April of 2018, Kevin won first prize in the 55th Paganini International Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy. He also received special prizes for being the youngest finalist and the best performance of a Paganini Caprice. In the 2012 Menuhin International Violin Competition in Beijing, Kevin was awarded first prize in the Junior Division, becoming the youngest-ever winner in the 29-year history of the competition. He also took home the Composer’s Prize for the best performance of a new Chinese work.
Kevin had a very successful debut with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra at the Mozart Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus, performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. His recent performances include concerto appearances with the Moscow Virtuosi Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, as well as solo recitals in London, New York, Guangzhou, and across Italy. As a Culture Ambassador of the Lin Yao Ji Music Foundation of China, Kevin was a featured soloist at the Harpa International Music Academy in Iceland in 2013 and 2016. He has repeatedly been a featured artist on BBC Radio 3 and National Public Radio. Kevin’s upcoming engagements include concerto appearances in Poland, as well as a series of solo recitals in Italy and China.
Kevin is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School, where he studies with Mr. Itzhak Perlman and Professor Li Lin. He previously trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Li Lin and Ian Swensen.
Kevin performs on the c1722 "Lord Wandsworth" Antonio Stradivari violin, which is on loan from the Ryuji Ueno Foundation and Rare Violins In Consortium, Artists and Benefactors Collaborative.
Jochem Geene received his first piano lessons at the age of 4 from his mother and later from his father who prepared him for his conservatory studies in Amsterdam. There he graduated in 1987 as Performing Musician from the renowned pianist and teacher Jan Wijn. During and after his studies he received ensemble and conducting lessons with various famous musicians such as Herman Krebbers and Jaap Spaanderman.
After his studies, Geene regularly gave concerts in the Netherlands and abroad and became a much sought after accompanist. From 1987 to 1998 he worked as a co-repetitor at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. He also worked intensively for many years with world-renowned musicians such as Sandor Vegh, Ana Chumachencko, Ivry Gitlis and Yehudy Menhuhin to assist them with their masterclasses in Switzerland, France and Austria, among others.
In 1998 Geene took over the renowned Dutch sound recording studio "Studio van Schuppen" where he focused on making very high-quality CD recordings. His clientele includes many national and international musicians and world-renowned orchestras. In 2006 Geene started his own record label under the name Dutch Record Company.
Hamburg-born Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker is one of the most renowned German violinists. Joachim Kaiser, the legendary music critic, described her playing as „beguiling“ in its powerful blend of reserve and bravura, of tender restraint and intoxicating spirit and esteemed it as „luck“ that coincidence had allowed him to have become acquainted with Sabrina-Vivian whose three CDs in their „vitality, intensity and quality,“ „moved his heart“.
Similarly, the world ́s leading string music magazine, „The Strad“, not only was enthused about „magical“ moments, „tonal elegance”, „admirable technique”, „fire and temperament” on her CDs featuring violin sonatas by Richard Strauss and Sergei Prokofiev or the Scottish Fantasy by Max Bruch and Mendelssohn ́s violin concerto in e-minor, but was thrilled by the „impeccable intonation”, the „honeyed tone”, the „mercurial dexterity” and the „speed and precision” of her CD „Habanera“:
„Here is a programme of fireworks and sweetmeats to showcase Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker ́s technical brilliance. The gifted young German violinist ́s silky virtuosity makes light of the hair-raising difficulties the music presents.” Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker was honored with the Alois-Kottman-Preis in Gold in collaboration with the city of Frankfurt am Main for her CD “Habanera”.
Her latest CD with Delos Music features the entire set of Brahms’ 21 Hungarian Dances in the seldomly recorded version of Joseph Joachim. It was immediately the “Album of the week” on Classical KUSC radio California - right after the New Years Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic in January 2019.
Concert critics admire her innate talent for musical phrasing and Maestro Abbado, former chairman of the jury of the International Abbado Violin Competition said of her playing: „Her musicality is enchanting, her tone is superb, her technique is incredible, her virtuosity extraordinary. Brava, Super Brava, Bravíssima!“
As a soloist Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker has worked with ensembles such as the Bavarian State Orchestra and conductors like Zubin Mehta who characterized her as an “excellent violinist with a huge musicality”. She also shared stage with Andris Nelsons, Yehudi Menuhin, James Judd, Andrew Constantine and many other conductors.
Along with appearances at major concert venues all over the World (Bavarian State Opera Munich, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne / USA, Auditorio Nacionál de Música Madrid), Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker has performed as a soloist at some of the most prestigious Festivals (Tuscan Sun Festival Cortona, Braunschweiger Classix Festival, „Winners and Masters” Munich, „Los Nuevos Solistas” Madrid).
She derives particular artistic satisfaction from chamber music (with partners like Fabio Bidini and Johannes Moser) and devotes herself to it with a special fervor.
Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker was first taught by her father. At the age of eleven she made her debut as a soloist at the „European Young Musicians Festival“ in the Philharmonic Hall at the Gasteig in Munich.
After coming top in her year with the Abitur (high-school-graduation) she went on to study violin with Max Rostal, Josef Rissin and Jens Ellermann, as well as Zakhar Bron and his assistant Sergei Fatkoulin, at Spain's top music college, the „Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía“ in Madrid.
The collaboration with Max Rostal, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Giuliano Carmignola, Andris Nelsons, Zubin Mehta and Placido Domingo have given her valuable inspiration and artistic stimulation.
Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker has won 1st prizes at many national and international violin competitions, last at the International Abbado Violin Competition in Milano. She holds the Hofheim am Taunus Bach Award, the „Paolo Borciani“ Prize for chamber music and the „Alois-Kottman-Prize in Gold“.