Wonder Keys Competition Jury
Chamber Music Section
Vassily Lobanov
Chairman, Russia-Germany
Worldwide pianist and composer, Vasily Lobanov was born in Moscow. He studied piano with legendary Heinrich Neuhaus and Lev Naumov and composition with Sergej Balassanjan and Alfred Schnittke.

Alfred Schnittke, one of the most significant composers of the 20th century, said of Lobanov, "There are talented composers and there are talented pianists, but seldom do those two talents converge in such brilliant proportion as they do in Vassily Lobanov …"

Lobanov initially began making concert appearances abroad in 1978, performing in the music metropolises of Europe, in the US, in Japan and South America with such conductors as Gennady Rozhdestwensky, Heinrich Schiff, Juri Bashmet, Christoph Poppen, Kurt Lewin, Alexander Lasarev...

He performed in a piano duo with Svjatoslav Richter, a piano trio with Oleg Kagan and Natalia Gutman and still, today remains a member of a piano quartet alongside Victor Tretiakov, Juri Bashmet, and Natalia Gutman. He concertized with many other renowned artists, such as Leonidas Kavakos, Gidon Kremer, Elmira Darvarova, Marc Kaplan, Eduard Brunner, Kolja Blacher, Charles Neidich, Kim Kashkashian...

1997-2012 he was the Professor for piano at Musikhochschule Cologne and currently he is the Professor in Zurich at the Kalaidos University and at the Schloss Akademie Germany.
Solomon Volkov
Solomon Volkov is a Russian-American world famous culturologist whose work focuses on Russian cultural history and its colorful figures. Many of Solomon Volkov's writings draw on his professional training as a violinist and musicologist, and he has written books—some structured to document conversations—about such cultural figures as Dmitri Shostakovich, George Balanchine, Nathan Milstein and Joseph Brodsky.
Anna Prabucka-Firlej
Dr. Anna Prabucka-Firlej, Piano (Poland) - Professor, Head of Chamber Music Department, Academy of Music "Stanislaw Moniuszko", Gdansk. A chamber ensembles of her class won more than 200 rewards and distincions on international and national competitions.

Board Member, European Chamber Music Teachers' Association. Director, Johannes Brahms International Chamber Music Competition, Gdansk.

Director, International Piano Duo Festival, Gdansk.Founder and Member of the Gdansk Piano Trio. She gives master classes in various countries as Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Belorussia, Finland, Moldova, Spain, Bulgaria, Russia, Chile, Peru and Tahiland.

She is a member of jury international and national competitions (Germany, Greece, Sweden, Lithuania, Byelorussia, Poland).
Misha Berkut
Described by the composer Rodion Shchedrin as 'one of the most brilliant violists in the world', Russian-born Misha Berkut started his career as a violinist, having quickly gained an outstanding reputation as a soloist and ensemble player. Whilst performing a wide variety of repertoire ranging from classical works to contemporary music and rock, he realised, aged 26 that the sound and style of the viola lay much closer to his heart. After only a month of study he made his debut as a violist in the Concert Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire.

Having trained as a violinist at the Moscow Conservatoire at the hands of such distinguished teachers as Maya Glezarova and Nadezhda Beshkina and gained experience in ensemble-playing under the direction of musicians such as Alexander Bakhchiev, Valentin Berlinsky, Mikhail Kopelman and others, Misha soon mastered the viola, and within six months enrolled at the Conservatoire as a postgraduate viola student in the class of Yuri Bashmet. During these years he was active as both violist and violinist, often playing both instruments in the same concert.

Already a winner of International Vincenzo Bellini Chamber Ensembles Competition in Italy in 1990, he then began to prepare for solo competitions as a violist. In 1997, after eighteen months of study, he became a laureate of the prestigious Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition on the Isle of Man, the first Russian prize-winner at that competition since its establishment in 1980. He went on to win the Yuri Bashmet Moscow International Viola Competition.

Since then he has performed in all of the world's major venues, and with some of its most outstanding musicians, among them Ivri Gitlis, Yuri Bashmet, Kolja Blacher, Natalia Gutman, Gidon Kremer, Alexei Lubimov, Aleksander Rudin and Naum Shtarkman. The festivals at which he has appeared include December Nights of Sviatoslav Richter, Territory, Moscow Autumn in Russia, Berliner Festwochen, the Oleg Kagan Musikfest in Germany, the Bath International Music Festival in England and Gaudeamus in the Netherlands.

Misha Berkut has given the Russian premieres of works by composers such as York Bowen, Mikhail Bronner, Morton Feldman, Michael Nyman, Nino Rota, Efrem Podgaits, Valentin Silvestrov, Vladimir Dashkevich, and some of the leading Russian composers of the day have dedicated viola works to him.

An 'Honoured Artist of Russia' from 2002 and Associate Professor at the Moscow State Conservatoire from 2005 to 2016, Misha Berkut has made numerous television and radio performances and CD recordings. He was a member of the jury of various international music competitions and has given master classes all around the world.

Elmira Darvarova
GRAMMY®-nominated, award-winning (Gold Medal at the Global Music Awards in 2017 and 2018), a concert violinist since the age of 4, and hailed by American Record Guide as "marvelous in the tradition of Heifetz", Elmira Darvarova caused a sensation, becoming the first ever (and so far only) woman-concertmaster in the history of the Metropolitan Opera. With the MET Orchestra she toured Europe, Japan and the United States, and was heard on the MET's live weekly international radio broadcasts, television broadcasts and CDs for Sony, Deutsche Grammophon and EMI. As concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera she has performed with the greatest conductors of our time, including the legendary Carlos Kleiber.

She studied with Yfrah Neaman, Josef Gingold and Henryk Szeryng. She can be heard on numerous CDs (including the world premiere of Vernon Duke's concerto with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony, and a CD with music by René de Castéra, named a RECORD OF THE YEAR 2015 by MusicWeb International). She has appeared on the stages of five continents, and has performed concertos with numerous European and American orchestras. She has given master classes worldwide and has performed chamber music with Janos Starker, Gary Karr, Pascal Rogé, Vassily Lobanov and Fernando Otero. A documentary film about her was shown on European television. She performs with the New York Piano Quartet, the Delphinium Trio, the Quinteto del Fuego, the Amram Ensemble, and in a duo with Fernando Otero.

She is Jury President of several international chamber music competitions in Europe, and Director of the New York Chamber Music Festival.

Praised by The Strad for her "intoxicating tonal beauty and beguilingly sensuous phrasing" and "silky-smooth voluptuous tone", she was featured in a Gramophone Magazine article about her world-premiere recording with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony of Vernon Duke's concerto (written for Heifetz in 1940).

Krzystof Sperski
Studied in the Academy of Music in Gdansk under prof. Roman Suchecki and has continued these in the master classes by prof. Laszlo Mezö (Hungary) and prof. Arto Noras (Finland). As soloist and chamber musician he has given concerts in the principal music centers in Poland and in Finland, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Iceland, Greece, Denmark, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Russia, Lithuania, Rumania, Holland, Belgium, Byelorussia, Croatia, Chile, Peru, Thailand and Iran.

For several decades, his main artistic pursuit has been acting as the cellist for the Gdansk Trio (Anna Prabucka-Firlej – piano and Marek Schiller – clarinet). Krzysztof Sperski had performed at important music festivals as: Kolobrzeg Cello Evenings, Poznan Music Spring, International Festival of Chamber Music in Plovdiv, Varna Summer, Mousikis Imeres in Thessaloniki, Music for Visitors in Helsinki, Nordelbische Internationale Sommerkonzerte, Mattheiser Herbstkonzerte, International Music Festival Fadjr in Teheran. He has performed for several times on radio and TV and has made three CD-recordings.

Professor Krzysztof Sperski began his teaching career as an assistant at the Academy of Music in Gdansk, after which he was awarded a professorship of cello. Ha was the dean and vice-rector at the Gdansk Academy of Music and the head of strings instruments faculty. In addition, he gives master classes in various countries (Greece, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Byelorussia, Thailand, Chile, Peru).

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