⭐ Thierry Scherz Prize 2022 - Sommets musicaux de Gstaad ⭐
THE FRAGILE STRENGTH OF THE PRESENT MOMENT
Some people have a clear idea of the career they want even from early childhood. Others prefer to go with the flow, making the most out of the present, with very little projection into the future. This might be because their present is sufficiently rewarding and fulfills everything their soul longs for, or it might also be for fear of disappointment after devoting themselves to a single project, because it might narrow down their horizon... or both options as once, as it happens to be for Anna Agafia! Indeed, today she is a fully dedicated violinist; nevertheless, she could just as easily have been a professional ice-skater, an actress or a philosopher. However, life decided otherwise, and some doors were harshly shut. This is the story of a young artist, at ease with who she is, and invigorated by the awareness of her fragility.
A musical cauldron
Her father, A Danish saxophone player, also at the head of a music school in Copenhagen. Her mother, a Ukrainian organist as well as a choir conductor. Two older brothers from her mother’s first marriage: one plays the clarinet as well as the organ while the other is a flautist and a transpsychedelic DJ. Her younger brother, a hip hop artist and producer who also plays the cello and studies art history at the Sorbonne University in Paris. In such a musical environment, how does one avoid the implacable predestination of a musician’s life? Well, by enjoying an almost normal childhood where music was always an option, but never an obligation! “Even if I can’t recall any precise memory, it was most probably my parents who chose the violin for me. My mother in particular, who epitomizes the authentic Slavic mother, was always present, taking me to my lessons, advising me at each crossroads, with expertise but also with lucidity and gentleness, accepting my second thoughts as well as my choices. Nowadays this is still very much the case – too bad if some people call her a hen mother.”
Slavic mother and young TV-star
Anna Agafia’s mother is at the crux of the violinist’s life story, and miles away from the caricatural tyrants so often found behind young virtuosos. When Anna was a little girl, her mother encouraged her passion for figure skating, a passion which had her training ten times a week, combining skating lessons, muscle training and ballet lessons. She was also by her side when, at the age of twelve, a chronic pain in the knee forced her to quit. Her mother was also behind Anna when she would steal the scene, both on stage and later on the big screen. At the age of seven, Anna appeared as Gretl in The Sound of Music for two seasons at the main musical theatre in Copenhagen. Then followed several feature films, in which she first embodied an eight-year-old sick child from the seventeenth century, and then, between the age of ten and sixteen, “the role of a life time” in a TV-series (later adapted to the big screen), where she was cast as the lead character’s neighbor and eventually girlfriend... It proved to be a very intense period in her life, where people would recognise her in the street; the violin was not totally put on hold, but she only managed to practice thoroughly during the weekends. [..]
Read more about this album & works in the booklet
Currently serving as Artist in Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, Anna Agafia is gaining international recognition as one of the most promising violinists to emerge from Scandinavia.
After having won all Danish music competitions during her studies in Copenhagen with Alexandre Zapolski, Anna moves to Switzerland in 2016. Here, she obtains her Bachelor and Soloist Master degrees at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne under the guidance of Svetlana Makarova and Pavel Vernikov. It is during this time that the young violinist takes her first steps towards a career as an international soloist. In 2017, Anna wins the competition Ginette Neveu in France, receives 2nd prize at the inaugural Ysaÿe competition in Belgium in 2018, and in 2019 she becomes a laureate of two international competitions: she is first awarded 3rd prize along with two special prizes in the Carl Nielsen competition, and, a couple of months later, receives the 1st prize and a special prize in the Tibor Varga violin competition. Since then, the aspiring musician has continued on her path towards success in other competitions, such as the Guadagnini international competition in Stuttgart in 2021 and more recently the Singapore international violin competition in 2022 (in which Anna received 2nd prize along with a special prize). The young violinist is now leading an active life as an internationally recognized soloist, performing regularly with European and American orchestras.
An avid and experienced chamber musician, Anna is often invited to prestigious festivals around Europe, and was selected to take part in the Chamber Music Connects the World festival at Kronberg Academy. In 2022, she becomes part of Beau Soir Productions, led by Renaud Capuçon, which allows her to deepen their collaboration through chamber music recitals.
Anna plays on a Joseph Guarneri violin from 1730-33 named The Sphinx, generously loaned to her by an anonymous donor.
Aleksandar Marković serves as Principal Guest Conductor of Sinfonia Varsovia for the 2022/23 season.
Born in Belgrade, and a graduate of Leopold Hager’s conducting class at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, Aleksandar Marković also attended masterclasses at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where he was awarded a Diploma d’onore. He received a scholarship from the Herbert von Karajan Foundation Berlin and won First Prize at the 7th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors in Katowice, Poland. He was Chief Conductor of the Tiroler Landestheater & Orchester in Innsbruck, Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of Opera North. At the start of the 2021/22 season, he became Chief Conductor of Vojvodina Symphony Orchestra in Novi Sad, Serbia. Aleksandar Marković made his US debut at Seattle Opera with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (2020) and conducted new productions of Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex/Apollon musagéte (2021) as well as Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (2022) at the Slovenian National Theatre.
His orchestral appearances include: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Munich Radio Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, DSO Berlin, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Dresden Philharmonic, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, National Orchestra of Belgium, Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, Malmö Symphony, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonic, Lithuanian National Symphony, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Ostrava, Belgrade Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, Slovenian Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic, Kremerata Baltica, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Concertverein, and others.
Sinfonia Varsovia has been an ambassador of Polish musical culture since its inception. Its foreign travels include thousands of meetings with conductors, composers, soloists, and finally – audiences. For nearly 40 years, the Orchestra has been a regular guest on foreign and domestic stages, providing listeners with an unforgettable musical experience.
The ensemble continues the tradition of the Polish Chamber Orchestra (PCO) founded in 1972 from which it evolved as new members came on. The impulse for expansion was provided in 1984 by the arrival of the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin who took over as the first guest conductor. “Working with no other orchestra gave me as much satisfaction as my work, as soloist and conductor, with Sinfonia Varsovia” – he said in interviews.
Soon after Sinfonia Varsovia began its world tour, performing in the world’s most prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall (New York), Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Paris), Barbican Centre (London), Wiener Musikverein (Vienna), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Suntory Hall (Tokyo) and Herkulessaal (Munich). The Orchestra has performed under the baton of such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Witold Lutosławski, Lorin Maazel, Emmanuel Krivine and Jerzy Maksymiuk, as well as with soloists including Mstislav Rostropovich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Alfred Brendel, Martha Argerich, and Piotr Anderszewski.
Sinfonia Varsovia has played over 4,000 concerts all over the world and made over 300 records for such labels as Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Sony, and Warner. The recorded repertoire features works from the 18th century to the present day. A special place in the Orchestra’s concert program is occupied by the works of Polish composers, such as Chopin, Penderecki, Paderewski, Lutosławski, Górecki, and Kilar. The Orchestra has premiered numerous works, including those by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Paweł Mykietyn, and Krzysztof Penderecki.
THIERRY SCHERZ PRIZE
Sponsored by the Pro Scientia & Arte Foundation and the Friends of the Sommets musicaux de Gstaad.
One of the main goals of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has always been to give young talents a chance, to help and guide them, reason for which, from the very start, the festival included into its programme a series of concerts given in the Gstaad chapel by promising young musicians of different nationalities playing the same instrument.
Every year, this Prize aims to reward one of these young musicians with the opportunity of recording a CD with an orchestra, produced by Claves Records, ensuring a wide distribution.
This Prize gives the laureate experience with microphones, collaboration with a conductor, with orchestra musicians, an artistic director, sound engineers … and finally the joy of an extensive distribution.
Our laureates’ success reminds us of the importance of supporting a promising career in its early days. We offer our sincere thanks to our sponsors who enable us to continue in this direction.
The Thierry Scherz Prize is an homage to the co-founder and artistic director of the Festival.
2002 Liviu Prunaru violon
2003 Herman Wallén baryton
2005 Emmanuel Ceysson harpe
2006 Joseph Moog piano
2007 Alexandra Soumm violon
2008 Nicolas Altstaedt violoncelle
2009 Berolina Piano Trio
2011 Sophie Pacini piano
2012 Soo-Hyun Park violon
2013 Pablo Ferrández violoncelle
2014 Bizjak Piano Duo
2015 Anaïs Gaudemard harpe
2016 Guillaume Bellom piano
2016 Kevin Jansson piano
2017 Caroline Goulding violon
2018 Anastasia Kobekina violoncelle
2019 Timothy Ridout alto
2020 Jean-Paul Gasparian piano
2022 Anna Agafia violin sommetsmusicaux.ch Other prizes