One of the most sought-after Croatian pianists and chamber music partners, Petra Gilming has studied in Zagreb with Kamelija Zavrl and Vladimir Krpan, pianist of the legendary Orlando trio, obtaining a Master’s degree from the Music Academy in Zagreb. Petra continued her studies in Spilamberto, Italy, with Luigi Mostacci, as well in masterclasses with renowned teachers (N. Kazimirova, L. Baranyaj, V. Pavarana, J.F. Antonioli, V. Merzhanov, K.H. Kammerling, D. Bashkirov).
As a laureate of numerous international competitions and prizes, including Pinerolo, Moncalieri and Pietra Ligure competitions in Italy, “Darko Lukić”, “Radio Podij” and “Papandopulo” competitions in Croatia, award of the Croatian Music Institute, “Artists on globe” award, Dean’s award and Rector’s prize, Petra has appeared regularly in concerts as a soloist with orchestras such as Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra or Croatian Chamber Orchestra, or in partnership with notable musicians (Božo Paradžik, Monika Leskovar, Frederic Moreau, Kimiko Nakazawa, Ho-Young Pi, Petr Fedotov, Orest Shourgot, Goran Končar, Zagreb Quartet, Porin Quartet).
Petra’s artistic and virtuosic skills, vast experience and affinity towards chamber music have been helping and guiding students of the bowed instruments at the Zagreb Music Academy where she works as a collaborative pianist since 2005.
Sho Akamatsu(1986) started his violin lessons with Hisako Tsuji in his native Japan.After winning first prizes in competitions in Wakayama and Osaka, Sho was awarded a prestigious government grant which enabled him to move to Vienna in 2002 to study with renowned teacher Leonid Sorokow, with whom he continued to study at the Music Academy in Zagreb, obtaining a Master's degree in 2010.
His move to Europe was followed by further competition success as Sho was awarded prizes in the Croatian national competition, „Alpe-Adria-Marcosig” competition in Italy, Novosibirsk violin competition in Russia, Stefanie Hohl contest in Austria, „Papandopulo” and „Vaclav Huml” competitions in Zagreb. Those accomplishments enabled him to give recitals and tour Croatia and neighbouring countries, but also appear as soloist in Vieuxtemps fifth Concerto with Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Concerto with the Zagreb Music Academy Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Concerto with the Zagreb Philharmonic and Mozart's fifth Concerto with the National Theatre Orchestra in Osijek and Zagreb Youth Orchestra.
In addition to his duties as second violin principal in the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra Liechtenstein, Sho gives regular recitals and chamber music concerts in Europe and Japan.
Versatile Croatian cellist Branimir Pustički was born into a musical family in Zagreb in 1981, where he had earned his Master's degree with Valter Despalj. Financial support of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences allowed him to continue his studies with Reinhard Latzko in Vienna, where he also served as an assistant principal in the Radio Symphony Orchestra of the ORF. In 2017 he earned the Postgraduate Artist Diploma from the University in Stavanger with top grade, studying with Jakob Kullberg. During his studies, he won prizes in cello competitions in Italy, Poland, Croatia and Austria and was awarded Zagreb Philharmonic/Amex prize for the best young Croatian musician in 2003.
Currently, Branimir combines a career of a soloist, chamber musician (especially with the Pusticki String Trio and Trio 1887, orchestral musician (as the principal cellist of the Symphony Orchestra of Croatian Radiotelevision), and a teacher at the Music Academy in Zagreb and at masterclasses in Croatia, Norway and Sweden. He has given chamber music concerts throughout Europe, Japan and in New York, and has performed, among others, with Zagreb Philharmonic, Zagreb Soloists and Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra. With the HRT Radio Symphony Orchestra he has also performed and recorded works for cello and orchestra by prominent Croatian composers; the near-forgotten first Croatian cello concerto by Juro Tkalcic, Changeant by Milko Kelemen and Essay for cello and orchestra by Marko Ruzdjak.
Contemporary music is of special interest to Branimir; he frequently performs new pieces in his recitals; appears regularly in Music Biennale Zagreb, where in 2017 he played the Trilogia I tre stadi dell'uomo by Giacinto Scelsi to great acclaim, but also commissions new pieces, the latest being Imperfectus for cello and string orchestra by prominent composer Krešimir Seletković, which he has played with the Varazdin Chamber Orchestra.
Branimir is also a part of the Human Rights Orchestra, an initiative that includes instrumentalists of major European orchestras with the goal of raising awareness of human rights issues and to raise funds to support effective grassroots organizations.
from "Recollections of a Russian Home: A Musician’s Experiences", by Anna Brodsky, Manchester, 1904"
“In the winter of 1887,
the Gewandhaus Committee invited Tchaikovsky to conduct some of his own compositions, and as he had received similar invitations from other towns in Germany, he decided to accept them and so, for the first time, came abroad to conduct his own works. He arrived in Leipzig on Christmas Eve: it was a cold frosty evening, and the snow lay thick on the ground. My husband went to the station to meet Tchaikovsky, and my sister Olga and her little son who were our guests at that time helped me to prepare our Christmas tree. We wished it to be quite ready before Tchaikovsky arrived, and to look as bright as possible as a welcome for him. As we were lighting the candles we heard the sound of a sledge, and soon after Tchaikovsky entered the room followed by Siloti and my husband. I had never seen him before. Either the sight of the Christmas tree or our Russian welcome pleased him greatly, for his face was illuminated by a delightful smile, and he greeted us as if he had known us for years. There was nothing striking or artistic in his appearance, but everything about him the expression of his blue eyes, his voice, especially his smile, spoke of great kindliness of nature. I never knew a man who brought with him such a warm atmosphere as Tchaikovsky. He had not been an hour in our house before we quite forgot that he was a great composer. We spoke to him of very intimate matters without any reserve, and felt that he enjoyed our confidence.
The supper passed in animated conversation, and, notwithstanding the fatigues of his journey, Tchaikovsky remained very late before returning to his hotel. He promised to come to us whenever he felt inclined, and kept his word. Among his many visits one remains especially memorable. It was on New Year’s Day. We invited Tchaikovsky to dinner, but, knowing his shyness with strangers, did not tell him there would be other guests. Brahms was having a rehearsal of his trio in our house that morning with Klengel and A. B. — a concert being fixed for the next day. Brahms was staying after the rehearsal for early dinner. In the midst of the rehearsal I heard a ring at the bell, and expecting it would be Tchaikovsky, rushed to open the door. He was quite perplexed by the sound of music, asked who was there, and what they were playing. I took him into the room adjoining and tried to break, gently, the news of Brahms’ presence. As we spoke there was a pause in the music; I begged him to enter, but he felt too nervous, so I opened the door softly and called my husband. He took Tchaikovsky with him and I followed. Tchaikovsky and Brahms had never met before. It would be difficult to find two men more unlike. Tchaikovsky, a nobleman by birth, had something elegant and refined in his whole bearing and the greatest courtesy of manner. Brahms with his short, rather square figure and powerful head, was an image of strength and energy; he was an avowed foe to all so-called “good manners.” His expression was often slightly sarcastic. When A. B. introduced them, Tchaikovsky said, in his soft melodious voice: “Do I not disturb you?” “Not in the least,” was Brahms’ reply, with his peculiar hoarseness. “But why are you going to hear this? It is not at all interesting.” Tchaikovsky sat down and listened attentively.
The personality of Brahms, as he told us later, impressed him very favourably, but he was not pleased with the music. When the trio was over I noticed that Tchaikovsky seemed uneasy. It would have been natural that he should say something, but he was not at all the man to pay unmeaning compliments. The situation might have become difficult, but at that moment the door was flung open, and in came our dear friends Grieg and his wife, bringing, as they always did, a kind of sunshine with them. They knew Brahms, but had never met Tchaikovsky before. The latter loved Grieg’s music, and was instantly attracted by these two charming people, full as they were of liveliness, enthusiasm, and unconventionality, and yet with a simplicity about them that made everyone feel at home. Tchaikovsky with his sensitive nervous nature understood them at once. After the introductions and greetings were over we passed to the dining-room. Nina Grieg was seated between Brahms and Tchaikovsky, but we had only been a few moments at the table when she started from her seat exclaiming: “I cannot sit between these two. It makes me feel so nervous.” Grieg sprang up, saying, “But I have the courage”; and exchanged places with her. So the three composers sat together, all in good spirits. I can see Brahms now taking hold of a dish of strawberry jam, and saying he would have it all for himself and no one else should get any. It was more like a children’s party than a gathering of great composers. My husband had this feeling so strongly that, when dinner was over and our guests still remained around the table smoking cigars and drinking coffee, he brought a conjurer’s chest — a Christmas present to my little nephew — and began to perform tricks. All our guests were amused, and Brahms especially, who demanded from A. B. the explanation of each trick as soon as it was performed. After dinner Brahms beckoned my little nephew to his side and putting his arm around him made all kinds of fun. I remember hearing him ask: “Are you collecting autographs? ” “No,” the boy said, “I collect stamps.” The answer pleased Brahms immensely who said again and again, “What a wise boy you are.” Brahms was a great lover of children, though he was sometimes fond of teasing them. Once when he was walking with Brodsky in the streets of Leipzig they met a boy whom Brahms stopped with the question, “Where did you lose your green feather?” The boy caught anxiously at the feather and looked at Brahms in astonishment. It did not occur to him that Brahms could not have known of the green feather had it not been still there. We were sorry when our guests had to go. Tchaikovsky remained till the last.
As we accompanied him part of the way home A. B. asked how he liked Brahms’ trio. “Don’t be angry with me, my dear friend,” was Tchaikovsky’s reply, “But I did not like it.” A. B. was disappointed, for he had cherished a hope that a performance of the trio in which Brahms himself took part, might have had a very different effect and have opened Tchaikovsky’s eyes to the excellence of Brahms’ music as a whole. Tchaikovsky had had very few opportunities of hearing it, and that was perhaps one reason why it affected him so little.