Dobrila Berković-Magdalenić (1948) graduated from the Music Academy in Zagreb under Milan Nagy. Having dedicated her career to teaching, she headed the unified string departments of all Zagreb's music schools as well as the teachers professional councils in Croatia. During thirty three years of teaching, her students have won more than a hundred awards from international and just as many from national competitions. Among them are the first prizes from Rome, Genoa, Turin, Tchaikovsky Sendai Competition, International Cello Competition Roberto Caruana in Milan, second prizes from the ARD Musikwettbewerb in Munich and the International Cello Competition 'Antonio Janigro' in Zagreb, and the third prize from the Rostropovich Cello Competition in Paris. She has founded two international cello competitions: Rudolf Matz and Antonio Janigro. Besides organizing numerous seminars and masterclasses, she often holds lectures (in Austria, Japan, USA, Germany, Slovenia). She was a guest professor at the High School in Mannheim, Germany, at the Academy in Vilnius, Lithuania, the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria, and at American universities of Cincinnati and North Texas. In 1995 she won the Ivan Filipović Award and in 1999 received the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the effigy of Marko Marulić. As the president of Croatian Association of String Instrument Teachers, she founded the most important Croatian cultural and educational event - the International Summer School 'UpBeat' - that took place in Hvar for twenty years in a row, and then moved to Korčula in 2006. In January, 'UpBeat' is repeated in Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Due to Dobrila Berković-Magdalenić's dedicated and selfless work, thousands of summer school attendants from about thirty different countries have witnessed the high achievements of Croatian culture.
Giovanni Gnocchi is a multi-faceted artist of deep musical understanding, which he shares with audiences around the world. He has already invested deeply in Brazil's young cellists and returns to Ilumina in 2016. In 2013, after an international competition, he was appointed as the Professor of Cello at the Universität Mozarteum of Salzburg. He was solo-cellist of Camerata Salzburg from 2003 until 2010 and also served as guest principal cellist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London. Laureate in the Prague Spring International Cello Competition, Antonio Janigro Competition of Zagreb, in duo at the Parkhouse Award of London at the Wigmore Hall, and winner in trio of the F. J. Haydn Competition of Vienna, Giovanni made his debut as soloist in a concert together with Yo-Yo Ma. Giovanni later performed as soloist under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, Christopher Hogwood, Carlo Rizzi, Daniele Giorgi, Pavle Despalj, at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Grosses Saal of Mozarteum in Salzburg in the Mozart-Woche, at the Wiener Konzerthaus and many times with Camerata Salzburg. Giovanni was founding member of the prize-winning David Piano Trio, recipient of the Fellowship of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust of London. He performs regularly in global chamber music projects with artists such as the members of Hagen Quartet, Leonidas Kavakos, Patrick Demenga, Howard Shelley, Mahler Chamber Soloists, Christine Schäfer, Eliot Fisk, Andrea Lucchesini, and Herbert Schuch. Important festivals include Prades, Lugano, IMS Prussia Cove, Radio France Montepellier, Schubertiade and Verbier. As orchestra leader, Giovanni has been invited to play as principal cellist by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Harding, Orchestra Mozart of Bologna with Claudio Abbado, Münchner Philharmoniker, Sydney Symphony Orchestra with Vladimir Ashknazy, co-principal in the London Symphony Orchestra with Valery Gergiev. Since 2008 he has been a member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, under which auspices he has played with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra Soloists in KKL Luzern for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Festival. Born in Cremona in 1977, Giovanni studied with Rocco Filippini and Mario Brunello. He studied for a long time with Enrico Bronzi and completed his studies at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg with Clemens Hagen. Before joing the faculty himself at the Mozarteum, Giovanni taught at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, Accademia di Portogruaro, and founded and led for 4 years the cello class at the Accademia Incontri col Maestro of Imola.
Stefan Kropfitsch began studying cello at the age of six with Tobias Kühne, pupil of Andre Navarra. He graduated with the highest distinction at the Vienna Academy of Music and finished his postgraduate studies with Wolfgang Herzer, solo cellist of the Vienna Philharmonic. He is the winner of numerous awards and prizes such as the Dr. Karl Böhm Prize of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Stefan Kropfitsch gave numerous solo appearances with renowned orchestras among which are Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Festival Strings of Lucerne, Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra, RSO Prague, Rome Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Soloists, and many others. Paralell to his international solo career, Stefan Kropfitsch is also a cellist of the widely known and acclaimed piano trio Jess-Trio-Wien. With his ensemble he performed in the most prestigious music centers in Vienna (Konzerthaus, Musikverein), Salzburg (Mozarteum), Milan (Teatro Piccolo), Basel (Casineum), Barcelona (Palau de Musica), London (Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room), New York (Carnegie Hall), Warsaw (Philharmonie), Hamburg (Music Hall), Berlin (Philharmonie), Palermo (Teatro Golden), Zurich (Tonhalle), among many others. As a soloist and with the Jess-Trio-Wien Stefan Kropfitsch recorded numerous CDs for EMI, Rondo and Gramola labels. During his career he closely collaborated with contemporary composers such as Herbert Willi, Alfred Schnittke, Rainer Bischof, Heinrich Gattermayer, Thomas Daniel Schlee, Meinhard Rüdenauer, Gerold Heitz and Carlo de Incontrera. Many of them have dedicated their works to him. Since 2004 Stefan is a professor at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. In 2006 he was appointed Head of the Institute for Strings and Other Stringed Instruments of the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. Stefan Kropfitsch plays on a Joseph Gagliano Cello, 1766, Naples, Italy.
Meehae Ryo received her first cello lesson at the age of six. After winning several national cello competitions, Meehae pursued her ambition to study abroad by joining the Juilliard School of Music at the age of sixteen and later finishing her studies with DMA degree at the University of Michigan. Meehae's passion for music made her one of the most preferred cellist by renowned orchestras such as the Wiener Concert Verein (Wiener Symphoniker Kammer Orchester), Berliner Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Prime Philharmonic Orchestra and Seoul Classical Players, among others. Meehae has performed in the most well-known concert halls, including the Musikverein Golden Hall, Verdi Hall, Hercules Hall, Smetana Hall, Dvořák Hall, Liszt Hall, Carnegie Hall, Auditorium della Conciliazione and Berliner Philharmonic Hall. Meehae's first recording was with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under maestro Vladimir Valek, it was a commemoration album by Sony Classic of the 150th anniversary of Schubert's death. In 2013, she recorded Saint-Saëns and Elgar cello concerto with Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra, released by Deutsche Grammophone. In July 2013, Meehae and Albena Danailova, the first female concertmaster in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, were invited to play Brahms Double Concerto at Cesky Krumlov Music Festival, and their performance was broadcasted live on the Czech National Broadcast. Apart from being an internationally accomplished concert cellist, Meehae is one of the most respected cello teachers in the Republic of Korea. She has also been invited to give master classes in world-renowned institutions such as the Vienna University, Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Kazakhstan Conservatory of Music. Meehae Ryo plays on a Storioni cello.
Eldar Saparayev was born in 1980 into an artistic family. Eldar is a 4th generation cello player, and he continues the tradition of playing the instrument that has been handed down on his father's side of the family for nearly 80 years. His father, Zaur Saparayev, began teaching cello to Eldar when he was six. The following year, in 1987, Eldar entered the School of Kulyash Baiseitova for talented children in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the class of prominent Kazakh cello mentors O. Abdychanova and E. Lutzenko. In 1998 he joined the Kazakh National Music Academy under the tutelage of his father, where he graduated with honours in 2000. In recognition of his talent and potential, Susana Basler from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich admitted Eldar as a scholarship student to her class. During his studies in Zurich Eldar also completed two years of exchange program in class of David Geringas in Hanns Eisler's Hochschulle für Musik in Berlin where he was a recipient of a scholarship from the Bernhard Greenhouse Fund. In 2004 Eldar obtained his bachelor and master degrees with honours from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich. Winner of only first prizes in every competition he entered, Eldar received numerous international awards and recognitions, such as the Grand Prix in Competition For Young Musicians of The Republic of Kazakhstan in 1996, 1st Prize in the International Competition Schabyt in Kazakhstan in 2000, 1st Prize in the International Antonio Janigro Competition in Croatia in 2000, 1st prize in Alpi-Adria Competition in Italy in 2002, and other. From 2004 to present Eldar Saparayev has toured as soloist in Europe, Asia and South and North America. He has been performing as a guest soloist with orchestras such as the New European Strings, Bayerische Staatsoper München, Münchener Rundfunkorchester, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Bachakademie Orchester Stuttgart and others. Eldar Saparayev had the honour of performing with a number of true virtuosos in classical performance, amongst them were Vladimir Ashkenazy, Dimitri Ashkenazy, Lior Shambadal, Heinrich Schiff, Bobby McFerrin, Reinhard Göbel, and David Geringas. Presently, along with solo concerts, Eldar Saparayev is a guest lecturer of the Zürich University of Arts.