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February 13, 2017

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Brexchange Cello Ensemble: Biographies

February 15, 2017

It's amazing to meet and work with such talented musicians this week. Here are the bios of the ensemble members and composers...


Mathilde Blondel  


Mathilde is an open minded, passionate and creative cellist from France. She also plays baroque cello and teaches in an association in the South West of Paris. She is involved in various projects across traditional, pop and contemporary music and plays chamber and orchestral music. She also creates and plays in interactive shows for children. She is currently completing her Master’s degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Mons (Belgium) with David Cohen. 


João Tiago Brandão da Cunha 


João began his cello studies at the age of six at the Conservatório de Música Calouste Gulbenkian in Braga (Portugal) with Raquel Alves. In 2011 he continued his studies at the University of Minho, under the guidance of the international cellist Pavel Gomziakov. After finishing his Bachelor’s degree he entered the class of David Cohen at the Royal Conservatoire of Mons. Since 2015 he has been invited to work with the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie and Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto. Since 2016 he has become a member of the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra (BPhO) and has been chosen to take part in the Britten-Pears Orchestra in London, during the 2017 season. 


Olivia Clayton 


Olivia is currently working towards her Post Graduate Advanced Diploma, continuing her studies with David Cohen at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where she is a scholar. Olivia has been awarded the Barbirolli Memorial Award for solo cello two years running (2015 and 2016) and has been a member of the Camilli String Quartet since 2013. Olivia is currently playing on a Benjamin Banks cello generously loaned to her from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. 


Aida Scavuzzo 


Born in Pamplona (Spain), Aida Scavuzzo started her studies with Marta Tobes. At the age of 12 she entered the Pablo Sarasate Conservatory in Diego Arbizu’s class. She has participated in international masterclasses with cellists such as Asier Polo, Damian Martinez, Jose Luis Quintana, Barbara Switalska, John Todd, Marie Paule Milone and Denis Posquin. She has played in the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie and the Mannheimer Philharmoniker. Since 2012 she has been studying at the Royal Conservatory of Mons with David Cohen. 


Alba Reiris 


Alba Reirís is from Ponteareas, Galicia. She began her musical studies as both a cellist and a pianist, first working with cellist Margarita Juokova and later with Iminas Kucinskas. She was a youth member of the Symphony Orchestra of Galicia, Spain, and also received coachings from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia. Alba was selected as a young promising cellist and offered chamber music concerts in the Teresa Berganza concert series for young artists in Santiago de Compostela.  In 2011 she began her Bachelor’s degree at the Conservatory of Music of Aragon, Spain, with cellists Barbara Switalska and David Apellániz. Since 2015 Alba has been studying for her Master’s degree in Belgium with David Cohen at the Royal Conservatory of Mons. 


Clémence Raoult 


Clémence started playing cello at the age of seven with Olivier Libert in the Conservatoire of Lille.  In 2013, she entered the class of Claude Giampellegrini at the Conservatoire Ville du Luxembourg where she obtained her diplomas in cello performance and chamber music. Currently, she is studying at Royal Conservatoire of Mons with David Cohen. 


Thibault Blanchard 


Thibault Blanchard-Dubois is a French cellist currently studying for his Bachelor’s degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music with David Cohen. As well as playing standard cello repertoire, he is working on mixing classical music, experimental-contemporary music, digital art and new technologies including a collaborative show ‘’P comme Piano’’ mixing theatre, live music, singing and photography. He is the recipient of numerous prizes, among them first prize at the Vivian Joseph Classical Concerto Competition Concerto in 2016, first prize at Concours des Clés d’or in Paris (2013), and first prize at Epinal Music Competition (2006). He is very grateful to the Montague Cleeve Scholarship Fund which generously supports his studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. 


Eliott Delafosse 


Eliott Delafosse began his musical education at the age of 14 after having heard Nirvana for the first time. He first studied guitar with Benoit Gil, focusing on popular music (rock, blues, pop, and later some jazz) and rapidly attended lessons at the Conservatoire in Fontenay-sous-Bois with Yves Scotto. He also spent two years studying Musicology at La Sorbonne Paris IV and then left France for the Royal Conservatory of Mons in Belgium, where he is currently studying Composition with Claude Ledoux and Original Sound Track for Movies with Denis Pousseur and Jean Luc Fafchamps. He also focuses on electronic music, as an experimental composer and as a beatmaker. 


Anandi Casanova 


Anandi Sala Casanova is a Catalan composer and conductor, born and raised in a multicultural town in South India. She is currently on a Masters Degree Programme in Composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, supported by the Gladys Bratton Scholarship, where she is pursuing her studies in both composition and conducting. 


Urska Horvat 


Urška Horvat is a young Slovenian cellist, currently studying at Trinity Laban with David Cohen. She has worked with many great musicians such as Enrico Bronzi, Leonid Gorokhov, Natalie Clein, Maria Kliegel, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Valery Gergiev. She is the recipient of numerous prizes from national and international competitions, among them 1st prize at the Vera Kantrovitch Bach Competition 2015, 1st prize at the Trinity Laban Soloists' Competition 2016, 1st prize at the Leonard Smith and Felicity Young Competition 2016 and Concordia Foundation 2017. Urška has appeared at venues including the Wigmore Hall, St. Martin in the Fields, St. James's Piccadilly, Cadogan Hall and the Southbank Centre. She is a member of YES Camerata (Young European String Camerata) and a founder, with pianist Francesca Fierro and violinist Andrea Montalbano, of the award-winning Tamesis Piano Trio. Urška also plays in a cello duo, Duo Furioso, with another young Slovenian cellist, Helena Švigelj. She is very grateful to the Ofenheim Charitable Trust which generously supports her studies at Trinity Laban.  


Helena Svigelj 

Young Slovenian cellist Helena Švigelj is a postgraduate student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in the class of David Cohen. She has won many international prizes such as 1st prize at the Vera Kantrovich Bach competition 2016, 1st prize at the Vivian Joseph classical concerto competition 2016 and 2nd prize at the Svirel competition. As a soloist she has performed with the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Conservatory of Mons, Orchestre de Chambre de Wallonie and NOVA Philharmonic. Helena has been part of many young and professional orchestras, such as the Slovenian Philharmonic, Trinity Laban Symphonic Orchestra, SFK Orchestra, YES Camerata, Orchestra of Music Academy in Ljubljana and The Royal Conservatory of Mons Orchestra. Helena has performed at festivals including Les sons intensifs, Côté-Cour Côté Jardin, Festival de Wallonie, Il Concertando Festival in Rome, and Festival Lent in Slovenia. She is very grateful to Trinity Laban for supporting her studies. 


David Cohen 


David Cohen is one of the most successful and charismatic young cellists in Europe. Born in the town of Tournai in Belgium, David made his solo debut with the Belgium National Orchestra at the age of nine. His International career as a soloist soon flourished with the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Soloist Chamber Orchestra, l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Liege, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, NHK, BBC Concert Orchestra... In his remarkable career, David has worked as a soloist with some of the most distinguished conductors in the industry such as Lord Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Walter Weller, Sir Charles Mackerras, Vladimir Ashkenazy, C.V.Dohnanyi, Pedro Hallfter, Martin Brabbins ect... 

As a graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Guidhall School of Music & Drama, thanks to a grant from the Menuhin Foundation, David won more than 25 prizes in International Cello Competitions. Amongs his prizes and awards are the Gold Medal of the GSMD in London (like Jaqueline Dupre), The Geneva International Cello Competition, the Audi International Competition, International Cello Competition in Douai, ’Tenuto’international Competition", The Guilherminia Suggia Gift, The Ian Flaming Trust, SPES, KPMG Martin Scholarship, Hattory Foundation, Berllotti-Buitonie Fellowship award, Fondation SUISA, J.S.Bach International Competition. He was Nominated ECHO “Rising Star” for the season 2002-2003 by the “Royal Philharmonic Society of Belgium” and the “Concert Gebouw”. He has studied with the finest cellists of this time: Wiliam Pleeth, Melissa Pheleps, Lynn Harrel, Daniil Schafran, Nathalia Gutman, Gary Hofman, Bernard Greenhouse, Steven Isserlis, Boris Pergamenschikow, Lord Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich and Oleg Kogan.  

David is a passionate Chamber Musician, he regularly performs in major festivals with the finest young talents of Europe. He is regularly invited to International cello and chamber music festivals. David is the Artistic Director of the Melchior Ensemble, which brings together the greatest young talents from Europe such as Sasha Sitkovetsky, Priya Mitchel, Corine Chapelle, Silver Ainomae, Razvan Popovici ect...  

David was appointed Principal Cello of the Philharmonia Orchestra in March 2001 (the youngest Principal cello ever!). 

David plays on a magnificient Dominicus Montagnana cello circa 1735 thanks to the kindness and generosity of Mrs Pat Morton and the help from the Razumovsky trust. 


For my full biography click here.


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