The phenomenal young cellist Andrei Ioniță was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2015 XV International Tchaikovsky Competition. The Times of London recently raved that Andrei is “…one of the most exciting cellists to have emerged for a decade.” A versatile musician focused on giving gripping, deeply felt performances, Andrei has been recognized for his passionate musicianship and technical finesse. The 2015-16 season features major debuts with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev at Cadogan Hall in London, as well as performances with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Filarmonica di Bologna, and the Filarmonica “George Enescu” in Bucharest. Andrei will also perform recitals in Berlin, New York, Munich, St. Petersburg, and throughout Italy, before undertaking a chamber music tour of Korea together with the violinist Clara-Jumi Kang and pianist Lucas Debargue. In June 2014, he collaborated with Gidon Kremer and Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy’s Festival, “Chamber Music Connects the World.” In the past few years, Andrei has been heard in such venues as the Kammermusiksaal of the Philharmonie in Berlin, Herkulessaal in Munich, Stadtcasino in Basel and Atheneum in Bucharest. Before winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, Andrei won First Prize at the Aram Khachaturian International Competition in June 2013; in September 2014, he won Second Prize and the Special Prize for the interpretation of a commissioned composition at the International ARD Music Competition in Munich. In 2014, he received Second Prize at the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann in Berlin.
Andrei was born in 1994 in Bucharest and began taking piano lessons at the age of five before received his first cello lesson three years later. He studied under Ani-Marie Paladi at the Music School “Iosif Sava“ in Bucharest and under Jens Peter Maintz at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Andrei Ioniţă draws his musical inspiration from the greatest cellists of our time, among them David Geringas, Steven Isserlis, Heinrich Schiff, Wolfgang Boettcher, Gary Hoffman and Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt. Andrei Ioniţă is a scholarship recipient of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben and performs on a violoncello made by Giovanni Battista Rogeri from Brescia in 1671, generously on loan from the foundation.
Naoko Sonoda was born in Japan and studied with Seiko Ezawa and Mikhail Voskresenky at the Toho Gakuen Music School, before postgraduate studies at the Universität der Künste in Berlin with Rainer Becker. She also studied chamber music with Tabea Zimmermann and Natalia Gutman. She attended master courses with Hans Leygraf, Ferenc Rados, Klaus Hellwig, Pascal Devoyon, and Jacques Rouvier, and, after graduation, Naoko was engaged by the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Hochschule für Musik Hanns-Eisler Berlin, and the Franz Liszt Musikhochschule in Weimar as a collaborative pianist. Naoko is a prizewinner of many international piano and chamber-music competitions, including Argento and Trieste (Italy), and Lodz (Poland). Solo and chamber-music concert invitations have taken her all across Europe and Asia, including to festivals such as Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. She has performed with orchestras such as the Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin (under M. Braun), and chamber music partners have included Kolja Blacher, Hartmut Rohde, Mark Gothoni, Danjulo Ishizaka, Jens Peter Maintz, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, as well as Andrei Ioniță with whom she has a close artistic collaboration. Naoko received accompanist prizes at the international music competition in Markneukirchen (2013), at the Lutoslawski International Cello Competition in Warsaw (2015) and at the 15th International Tchaikovsky Music Competition.