Espen AARESKJOLD (trombone)
Espen Aareskjold is the principal trombone of the Swedish Royal Opera and teaches at the Lilla Akademien in Stockholm. He is also principal trombone of the Estonian Festival Orchestra.

Birgit Katriin BORN (violin)
Birgit Katriin Born began playing the violin at the age of 6. This summer, she completed her Master’s degree at the University of Music Lugano under Pavel Berman and in 2022, her Bachelor’s degree at the Royal College of Music in London under Jan Repko. She also studied with Eva Bindere at the Accademia Perosi in Italy. Born is an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician and has performed on some of Europe’s most renowned stages. Born was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra 2019–2022, and frequently performs in ensembles such as Spira Mirabilis, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana and others. She is a regular guest concertmaster with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and plays with the Estonian Festival Orchestra from 2023. Born recently won a place in the Budapest Festival Orchestra Academy, and she was awarded the first Olari Elts Scholarship in 2023.

Māra BOTMANE (cello)
Since 2012, cellist Māra Botmane has been playing in the Latvian State chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga. She also plays the Baroque cello and regularly performs under Māris Kupčs in the orchestra Collegium Musicum Riga.
Botmane obtained the Bachelor’s degree (2013) at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music under Diana Ozoliņa and in 2020 the Master’s degree in Early Music. In 2018, she graduated from Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts (prof. Jan Ickert and Kristin von der Goltz). She also studied at Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest.
As a member of chamber ensembles, Botmane has participated at several international festivals. She performs with Tempus Balticus and Latvian Sound Quartet, and as guest principal cellist in the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. In 2020 she was nominated for the Latvian Grand Music Award for outstanding ensemble work.

Amanda ERNSESAKS (violin)
Amanda Ernesaks (2002) has studied at the Sibelius Academy with Päivyt Meller, Laura Vikman, Pekka Kauppinen and Réka Szilvay and is currently continuing her studies at the Munich University of Music and Drama with Mi-kyung Lee.
Ernesaks has attended several master classes. In 2013 and 2015, she was awarded 3rd prize at the international competition ‘Young Musician’ in Tallinn, 1st prize (2016) and 2nd prize (2019) at the Juhani Heinonen Violin Competition in Jyväskylä and 2nd prize at the Estonian String Players Competition 2020. In 2018, she was awarded the title of Laureate at the Estonian Young String Players Competition.
Ernesaks has performed as a soloist with several orchestras, such as the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and others. As a chamber musician she has participated in many Finnish festivals.

Paula ERNESAKS (horn)
Paula Ernesaks (1997) studied at the Espoo Music Institute in Finland and since 2013 at the Sibelius Academy in Finland horn with Mari Loiske, Jukka Harju and Tero Toivonen. Ernesaks has worked with several Finnish orchestras, such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Finnish National Opera and, in the 2017–2018 season, the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra. From 2019 to 2021, she studied at the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic with Stefan Dohr and Sarah Willis. Since March 2022, she has been a member of the horn section of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Alec Frank-Gemmill is well-known among audiences in the UK and beyond as a horn player. He has performed extensively as an orchestral player, a chamber musician and also as a soloist, the latter most recently U in Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto in the Philharmonie Berlin. Frank-Gemmill now studies conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has acted as assistant to various conductors, including Ryan Bancroft at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He had his first concert as director in 2022 with the Norrbotten Chamber Orchestra and makes debuts with orchestras in Finland and Italy next season. Frank-Gemmill is the founder and director of Odin Ensemble which performs on instruments from the early 20th century. In recognition of ‘an artistry in constant development and deepening’, he received the 2023 Sten A. Olsson scholarship for culture from Sweden’s Stena Foundation.

Paul HANDSCHKE (cello)
Paul Handschke had his first cello lessons at the age of five years with Stefan Bohn, later with Michael Weiß and David Grigorian. He has also taken part in masterclasses with the most renowned cello teachers, such as Wen-Sinn Yang, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Jens Peter Maintz and David Geringas. In 2016, he won both the sponsorship prize and a scholarship at the Oberstdorfer Musiksommer as well as the study prize of the renowned Migros-Kulturprozent (CH). The following year, he was also awarded an extension of the study prize and was accepted into the concert placement programme. He studied with Thomas Grossenbacher at the Zurich University of the Arts and then enrolled in the master’s programme with Maximilian Hornung at the University of Music and Theatre Munich.
He has been a permanent member of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich since 2018 and principal cellist since 2022.

Andres KALJUSTE (viola)
Violinist, violist and conductor Andres Kaljuste is one of Estonia’s most versatile musicians.
Having recently released a debut duo album of Heino Eller’s music, Kaljuste can be heard performing with pianist Sophia Rahman at concerts throughout the summer, including the Kuhmo and Tallinn chamber music festivals. As a conductor he will return to the Estonian National Opera, KRATT Festival and Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta in the 2024/25 season. Kaljuste currently also serves as Creative Director of Classical Studies at the Tallinn College of Music and Ballet.
He has premiered and commissioned many works for viola, including Tõnu Kõrvits’s Sonata, which will be performed at the Pärnu Music Festival. A lover of diverse genres, Kaljuste has recently joined Mingo Rajandi’s band with whom he is touring Europe.

Sha KATSOURIS (violin)
Born in China, Sha Katsouris began studying the violin at the age of 4. She was the youngest winner of the China National Violin Competition, and she has won the Menuhin International Violin Competition (England) and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati (CCM) Concerto Competition.
She studied at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, at the CCM (Starling Foundation Scholarship) with Kurt Sassmannshaus and Dorothy DeLay, at the Yale School of Music with Peter Oundjian and at the Freiburg University of Music with Nicolas Chumachenco. She has also had chamber music lessons with the La Salle Quartet and the Tokyo String Quartet.
She is a member of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Since January 2000, she has been a member of the Hába Quartet with whom she has toured China, performed at festivals and made numerous CD recordings, the latest of which will be released in 2024.

Marcel Johannes KITS (cello)
Marcel Johannes Kits is one of the most promising young cellists of his generation, having won the 3rd prize at the Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition and 1st prize at the George Enescu International Competition.
Recent concert highlights include tours in Belgium with the Belgian National Orchestra under Eivind Aadland and in South Korea with the Estonian Festival Orchestra under Paavo Järvi. He has also performed with orchestras such as Brussels Philharmonic, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra and many others, working with renowned conductors. He studied with Laine Leichter, Mart Laas and Francis Gouton and is currently studying at the Berlin University of Arts with Jens Peter Maintz.
Kits plays an Italian cello made by Francesco Ruggeri (Cremona, 1674) and a bow made by Victor Fétique, both kindly on loan to him from the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben.

Vladislav LAVRIK (trumpet)
Ukrainian-born virtuoso trumpeter and conductor Vladislav Lavrik has appeared as a guest conductor and soloist with the Russian National Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Bordeaux, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. Excelling in both classical and jazz idioms, Lavrik has performed as a soloist in all major Russian concert halls, in the USA, Canada, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie Berlin, Theatro Municipal (Rio de Janeiro) and others. He has appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras in the Russian Federation. Since moving to Berlin in 2022, his engagements have included collaborations with the Rachmaninoff International Orchestra and Concerts for Peace in Berlin. Lavrik studied at the Moscow State Conservatory. From 2008 to 2022, he was professor of trumpet at the Moscow State Conservatory. Lavrik has been actively involved in music projects for children.

Angie LIANG (Liang Yen Chi) (double bass)
Born in Taiwan, Liang Yen Chi studied at the Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia di Roma in Rome. She graduated with distinction in 2013. Shortly before completing her Master’s degree, Liang won an audition for a position at the Teatro alla Scala di Milano, where she worked for 8 years. During her time at the conservatory, she excelled in soloist competitions and received scholarships, such as the Concorso Nazionale delle Arti, the Concorso Nazionale di Esecuzione per Contrabbasso ‘Werther-Emilio Benzi’ and others. In her orchestral career, Liang has collaborated with prestigious theatres such as Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Regio Torino and others. Since 2017, she has been a member of the Estonian Festival Orchestra. Since 2023, Liang has been the co-principal double bass player at Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

Benjamin NYFFENEGGER (cello)
Benjamin Nyffenegger has been assistant principal cellist of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich since 2008 and is a founding member of the Julia Fischer Quartet and the Oliver Schnyder Trio. He pursues an intensive international concert activity performing throughout Europe and Asia as well as at festivals such as Schwetzingen and Prague Spring. Chamber music partnerships have also brought him together with many first-class musicians. As a soloist, Nyffenegger performs with orchestras such as the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Bern Symphony Orchestra. His CD recordings with the Oliver Schnyder Trio received highest praise in the international music press. Nyffenegger studied at the Zurich University of the Arts with Thomas Grossenbacher. He is artistic director of the SeetalClassics concert series in Seon/Switzerland and the Boswiler Sommer together with the violinist Julia Fischer.

Taavi ORRO (clarinet)
Estonian clarinettist Taavi Orro enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician and orchestral player. Notable recent performances include collaborations with Klangforum Wien, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonietta Lahti and Staatskapelle Dresden as well as recitals at festivals AFEKT and COMMUTE in Tallinn and performance of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint at the Estonia Concert Hall (Tallinn, Estonia). In 2022 Orro founded a clarinet-piano duo with the American pianist Robert Fleitz. An exponent of 20th and 21st century music, Duo Orro & Fleitz has performed internationally including in Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Italy. They are prize winners of the 3rd International Music Competition ‘Marcello Pontillo’ which took place in Florence, Italy in 2022.
Since 2019 Taavi has been a member of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.

Artur PODLESNIY (violin)
Artur Podlesniy was born in the Ukraine. He studied at the Gnesin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow and at the Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf with Rosa Fain. Podlesniy has won prizes at various violin and chamber music competitions, including the Pancho Vladigerov International Violin Competition in Shumen, Bulgaria, the Shostakovich Competition in Moscow and the DAAD Prize in Düsseldorf. He performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and is a permanent member of the Hába Quartet. In 2003, Podlesniy became a member of the Orchestra Academy of the Aalto-Musiktheater Essen and later a permanent member of the Essen Philharmonic. From 2008 to 2016, Podlesniy was a member of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Since 2016, Podlesniy has been a permanent member of the Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester (Frankfurt Opera) as Deputy First Concertmaster.

Sophia RAHMAN (piano)
Known for ‘supreme chamber-musical responsiveness’ (TAD) Sophia Rahman gave the first UK broadcast of Florence Price’s piano concerto with BBC NOW and has made CDs of other female composers. With Andres Kaljuste Rahman plays new Estonian music. Their CD of Heino Eller, recorded at Arvo Pärt Centre, was released in 2024. Rahman appeared at Gstaad, IMS Prussia Cove, Kuhmo festivals and performed with distinguished musicians Klaus Mäkelä, Augustin Hadelich and Steven Isserlis. As Artistic Director of Whittington Music Festival she played with Mark Padmore, Roderick Williams and mentors the brightest new talents. She devised chamber courses in Estonia, has played for Steven Isserlis’s class at IMS Prussia Cove since 2011 and as class pianist for William Pleeth at Britten Pears School. She won Royal Over-Seas League’s collaborative and chamber piano prizes in consecutive years.

Sharon ROFFMAN (violin)
American violinist Sharon Roffman is equally sought after as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestra leader and music educator around the world. She was concertmaster of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra from 2017 to 2023 and has appeared as guest concertmaster with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London Symphony Orchestra and Estonian Festival Orchestra, among others. Roffman has been member of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and Orchestre National de France. As a chamber musician, she has worked with members of the Guarneri, Juilliard and Brentano quartets, among others. She is the founder of ClassNotes, an ensemble dedicated to introducing classical music to public school students. Roffman is a graduate of the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music; her teachers include Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein, Peter Winograd and others.

Johannes Claudio RUGE (harp)
Johannes C. Ruge was born in 2005 in Munich, Germany. At age six he started playing the piano, one year later along came the harp. Since then he has taught himself many more instruments such as guitar, electric bass and percussion. Johannes composes and writes songs himself since the age of ten. His musical influences include classical music, jazz, rock, pop and even folk music and a capella. He has been harpist in some of the best youth orchestras of Bavaria and has won several prices for his piano playing in renowned national competitions. His compositional talent has been awarded and appreciated by musicians of all genres. He uploads his multi-instrumental projects to YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and all music streaming platforms where you can find him under the pseudonym JohnnyCloud.

Thomas RUGE (cello)
After studying at the Karajan Academy and playing for several years with the Berlin Philharmonic (several tours with Herbert von Karajan), Thomas Ruge has been principal of the cellos in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra since 1991.
Beside this he plays regularly as solo cellist with the Bavarian State Opera, Semperoper, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam, Luxembourg and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras and many others. From 1989 to 1998 he played in various concerts and tours with the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a soloist he has performed the cello concertos of Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Brahms in the Philharmonie Berlin.
Thomas Ruge is a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (2003) and solo cellist of the Estonian Festival Orchestra since 2020.

Kärt RUUBEL (piano)
Kärt Ruubel is a passionate chamber musician and has performed throughout Europe, including the Philharmonie Berlin, Konzerthaus Berlin, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie Luxembourg and Konzerthaus Dortmund.
2018 Ruubel’s first solo album Auff die Mayerin (Genuin Classics) was released, featuring works by Baroque composers Bach, Handel, Fux and Froberger. She has recorded for Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), BBC and Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR Klassik). Ruubel has performed at prestigious festivals such as Usedom and Pärnu festivals, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rottweil Music Festival Sommersprossen and others.
An interest in contemporary music inspired the formation of the ensemble Neophon, which has worked with composers such as Jörg Widmann, Wolfgang Rihm and Peter Ruzicka. Since 2024, Ruubel is a member of the ensemble Ludens.

Triin RUUBEL (violin)
Triin Ruubel is one of the most outstanding violinists of her generation. Since 2015 she has been the concertmaster of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) and teaches at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. For more details, see this page.

Indrek VAU (trumpet)
Trumpeter and teacher Indrek Vau (1971) is the most actively performing and highly acclaimed solo trumpeter in Estonia. He graduated from the Sibelius Academy under the guidance of Jouko Harjanne.
Vau has been principal trumpet of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ENSO) for many years and has been teaching at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre since 2001. His varied repertoire includes most of the classical trumpet concertos and 20th century masterpieces, and he has also commissioned new works. Vau has performed as a soloist with the ENSO, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and others, and has recorded extensively. Vau initiated the Estonian Academic Brass Quintet in 2010. He has received two awards from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2010, 2017) and was named Performer of the Year (2021) by the Association of Estonian Professional Musicians.

Madis VILGATS (tuba)
Madis Vilgats studied at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (EAMT), the Malmö Academy of Music and 2006–2011 with Jens Bjørn-Larsen at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. He has worked with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Philharmonie der Nationen and others. He is a member of the Estonian Festival Orchestra and the Estonian Academic Brass Quintet. Vilgats was the principal tuba of the Estonian National Opera Orchestra 2011–2016. He has been teaching tuba at the EAMT since 2011. He was awarded first prize at the National Competition for Wind Instrumentalists and Percussionists (2012) and has performed as a soloist with the Estonian Police and Border Guard Orchestra and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Since 2016 Vilgats is the principal tuba of ENSO.

Johannes VÄLJA (cello)
Johannes Välja began his cello studies in 2001 at the Tallinn Music High School with Mart Laas. Later he was influenced by Wen-Sinn Yang, Quatuor Ébène and others.
A versatile musician, Välja has performed as a soloist with several orchestras and participated as a chamber musician and teacher at festivals in Georgia, Canada, Estonia, Japan, Germany and China. He has recorded Beethoven’s triple concerto with the symphony orchestra of the University of Music and Theatre Munich. From 2021 to 2023, Välja played with the orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera. Välja has performed chamber music with renowned musicians such as Julia Fischer, Christoph Poppen, Mi-kyung Lee, Nils Mönkemeyer and others. As a member of the HANA Quartet, he won 3rd prize at the Carl Nielsen International Chamber Music Competition in Denmark (2023) and 2nd prize at the Concours de Genève in Switzerland (2023).

Martine VÄRNIK (oboe)
Following her studies in Stuttgart, Martine Värnik was selected for the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic, performed in the Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmanian Symphonies and spent a decade as principal oboe with Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. She has been guest principal on four continents, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Hamburg State Opera, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and others, and as an English horn player in the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Solo performances have taken her to the chamber music hall of the Philharmonie Berlin and Konzerthaus Vienna, among others, chamber music concerts to Uusikaupunki, Lockenhaus and other festivals. She is principal oboist of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and founder of @hedwigs2homes chamber music series at the Komitas Hall Yerevan.

Emma YOON (violin)
New Zealand violinist Emma Yoon is a member and substitute 2nd violin leader of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and of the Estonian Festival Orchestra since 2018. Yoon studied with Stephen Larsen at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and completed her studies with Elisabeth Kufferath at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. Yoon has been successful in competitions both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. She has won 2nd prize in the National Concerto Competition (New Zealand) and is a ROSL scholarship holder.
A passionate chamber musician, Yoon regularly collaborates with artists such as Florian Donderer and Tanja Tetzlaff and has performed at the Rottweil Music Festival Sommersprossen, Heidelberger Frühling and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.

Peter ZELIENKA (violin)
Peter Zelienka, born in Zvolen (formerly Czechoslovakia), received his first violin lessons at the age of eight. He studied the violin, chamber music and conducting at the Prague Conservatory and at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts with Edith Peinemann, Ida Bieler and Dušan Pandula. With Pandula, Zelienka founded the Hába Quartet, with whom he has recorded numerous CDs (NEOS, Oehms Classics, Artesmon, Hänssler Classic and others). The ensemble has performed in many European countries, China and Japan.
Since 1993, Zelienka has been a member of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony (hr-Sinfonieorchester). He also maintains a career as a conductor and has worked with the hr-Sinfonieorchester, Frankfurt Strings, and others. Since 2021 he is the conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra Wiesbaden. Zelienka is head of the Orchestra Academy of the hr-Sinfonieorchester.

Sarina ZICKGRAF (viola)
German violist Sarina Zickgraf belongs to the most promising musicians of her generation and performs in all fields of classical music. Since 2021 she has held the position of assistant principal violist of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. Zickgraf studied with Wolfram Christ and Tabea Zimmermann. Her recording of Joseph Schelb’s viola concerto with the Kammersymphonie Berlin received high praise in many reviews. Zickgraf has performed alongside renowned musicians at numerous festivals, including Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove. Very passionate about contemporary music, she has worked with many composers as a member of the ensemble Risonanze Erranti and played first performances. She serves as a guest player in high class orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and has toured Europe, Asia and Australia.

Elizaveta ZOLOTOVA (viola)
Elizaveta Zolotova began studying the violin at the age of five and switched to the viola nine years later. She graduated from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, studying with Roman Balashov, Yuri Bashmet (viola) and Alexander Rudin (Chamber Music), and from the University of the Arts in Berlin (prof. Wilfried Strehle; Master’s Soloist degree). Zolotova joined the Verbier Festival Orchestra and later played with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, Zermatt Music Festival Academy, and Russian-German Music Academy. In 2014, she joined the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, then the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and finally the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB). She has also performed with the Berlin Philharmonic and other notable ensembles. Since 2019, she has been a member of the Estonian Festival Orchestra and teaches at the RSB Orchestra Academy.