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Hugo has a rare ability to convey a profound understanding of the music and shed light on its spiritual intent
As violinist and director Hugo imbibes all possible forms of creativity, whether it be performing premieres in Carnegie Hall, improvising with monks in India, or devising innovative programmes for O/Modernt.
Hugo is a violinist with a uniquely intellectual approach to his work, incorporating aspects of literature, philosophy, spirituality and meditation. Alongside his passion to discover and learn from music of all ages and traditions, Hugo embraces the world of contemporary music, performing works written for him in halls such as Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus and Shanghai Oriental Arts Theatre. He is also regularly asked to devise and present concerts with a unique twist, collaborating with ensembles such as Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Manchester Camerata and his own O/Modernt Orchestra. He has commissioned over fifty works by composers including Erkki-Sven Tüür, Peteris Vasks, Sven-David Sandström, Albert Schnelzer, Judith Weir and Tobias Broström. Hugo is the artistic director of Festival O/MODERNT at Ulriksdal’s Palace Theatre Confidencen, Stockholm. Every June, the oldest rococo theatre in Sweden houses a series of unique musical encounters that release the listener from their conventional box of habit. In 2017 the festival will be guided by ‘Vivaldi and the Return’.
With a passion for chamber music, Hugo gives regular recitals in prestigious festivals (Kuhmo, Edinburgh, Gstaad, St-Denis, Baltic Sea) and halls across Europe and the Far East, collaborating with artists such as Evelyn Glennie, Anne Sofie von Otter, Steven Isserlis, Angela Hewitt and Olli Mustonen. He plays on a 1751 G.B. Guadagnini.
Hugo regularly gives masterclasses and seminars on violin teaching, and lectures on music-related subjects all over the world. One of the highlights of the past year was a two-week stay in an ashram at the foot of the Himalayas where he chanted every morning, meditated and swept the floors by day and in the evenings sat crossed-legged by a fire, playing Bach to a group of barefooted monks. His musical tastes swing from contemplative Indian ragas to the megalomaniac rock-band, Muse (played at high volumes), to the songs of Richard Strauss (played even louder). Hugo still lives in the blissful state of mobilephonelessness. His staple reading is the Bhagavad Gita but he has recently been captivated by the work of the French philosopher, Henri Bergson.
Dutch double bassist Niek de Groot is one of today’s leading soloists. Originally a trumpet-player he started playing the double-bass at 18. Within an unusually short time he became principal bass with several European ensembles, including a 10 year tenure as first solo-bass with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. After his formal studies he further developed his skills at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada. Niek’s playing has benefited a great deal also from attending masterclasses with eminent cellists Frans Helmerson, Lluìs Claret, Laurence Lesser and in collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, György Sebök and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Since 2006 Niek de Groot has dedicated himself entirely to chamber music and solo performances. He performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician at the best known concerthalls and music festivals. A new well received solo CD for Nimbus was released in June 2015. New CD’s for both BIS-records and Audite will be released at the end of 2017. His repertoire includes a great deal of contemporary music and he has worked closely with composers such as Kurtág, Stockhausen, Saariaho, Vasks and Gubaidulina.
In 1996 Niek was appointed Senior Professor for Double Bass at the Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, becoming the only French Bow playing bassist ever to teach in such a position in Germany. He also taught at institutions in Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and regularly gives master classes worldwide. Many of his former and current students play in Europe’s foremost orchestras and ensembles.
Through his career, Niek de Groot has played on rare double basses by Cerutti, Bajoni and Amati. Since 2016 he got the lifelong privilege to play the world famous Domenico Montagnana double bass from 1747. His bows are especially made for him by Jochen Schmidt. His baroque and classical bows are by Gerhard Landwehr.
Christoffer Sundqvist (b. 1978,) has been principal clarinettist in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2005, makes regular solo appearances with orchestras and in chamber repertoire and teaches the clarinet at the Sibelius Academy and in master classes. A versatile musician, he has a repertoire ranging from the standard works to new commissions.
In recent years Christoffer has been the soloist with almost all the professional Finnish orchestras. Topping the list of solo engagements with orchestras abroad have been the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony, the Basel Symphony, the Estonian National Symphony, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonic and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has collaborated include Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgårds, Sakari Oramo, Okko Kamu, Hannu Lintu, Anna-Maria Helsing and Eugene Zigane. He is also a regular visitor at European music festivals.
Also an active chamber musician, Christoffer was one of the founders of the Arctic Hysteria wind quintet in 1997. Another line-up important to him is the Plus Ensemble. He has played with many other chamber ensembles, given recitals in Finland and abroad and premiered works by Finnish composers Pehr-Henrik Nordgren, Atso Almila, Magnus Lindberg and others.
In order to generate new clarinet repertoire, Christoffer works in close partnership with composers. His collaboration with Sebastian Fagerlund has resulted in a Clarinet Concerto that has won widespread international acclaim, and he has also premiered the works Fuel (2010) and Sonata (2011).
Christoffer has been Artistic Director of the Jakobstad Sinfonietta and is, together with composer Sebastian Fagerlund, Artistic Director of the Rusk Chamber Music Festival founded by them in Pietarsaari/Jakobstad in 2013. The idea of this festival held at the end of November is to bring together top musicians of international renown. In the space of a few days, sometimes surprising events bring people and the arts together in joint experiences.
During this year’s RUSK festival students, alumni and teachers from Novia’s visual arts and music programmes are cooperating with the composer, musician and artist Guillermo Galindo (San Francisco/Mexico City). In a world marked by rapid change, movement, openness and economic, social and political upheaval, there is at the same time a paradoxical development towards more division, more borders, more walls and fences. Using Olivier Messiaen’s Quatour pour la fin du temps as a starting point, the project will visualise and problematise the idea of borders, border-crossings and economic growth. With a focus on the experimental in regards to content, form and soundscapes, the artists will combine time-based media, performance, installation, and sonic elements into RISK RUSK SITUATION #1 / 2017.
Participants: Carina Ahlskog, Finn Appel, Anton Back, Albert Braun, Moa Cederberg, Joakim Finholm, Guillermo Galindo, Johanna Luukkonen, Michel Ruths, Johan Sandås, Emma Vikberg, Michele Uccheddu, Kevin Åkerlund, Jenni Österlund / Documentation (YA): Marcus Finholm, Sebastian Holmblad, Amanda Sandvik