President of Ljubljana Festival and Chairman of the European Festival Association
Born in Ptuj in 1964, Darko Brlek has spent most of his life in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. In 1988, he graduated from the Academy of Music in Ljubljana before going on to perfect his knowledge at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria. During his studies he received numerous prestigious accolades, including the Prešeren Award. In 1991, Mr. Brlek became the youngest ever director of the Slovenian National Opera and Ballet in Ljubljana, while only a year later he also became the youngest artistic director of the Ljubljana Festival, taking over as executive director of the country’s most important cultural festival in 1995. In addition to his long-running stewardship of the Ljubljana Festival, Mr. Brlek has also held various positions at other Slovenian cultural institutions, including being a founder of the Slovenian Chamber of Culture and chairman of the Council for Culture of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. Despite his extensive commitments to the promotion culture in Slovenia, Mr Brlek also nds the time to participate in several international bodies, becoming vice president of the European Festival Association in 1997 and serving as its chairman since 2005. The Brussels-based institution brings together over 100 festival associations and cultural organisations from 44 countries and is a major force European culture. However, art and culture is not only a profession for Mr. Brlek, it is also a way life, and he is still quite active as a concert clarinettist, regularly performing on stages around the world both as a soloist and as a member of the chamber ensemble Trio Luwigana.
President of Emilia Romagna Festival
Massimo Mercelli is artistic director and founder of Emilia Romagna Festival. Since 2001 he is a member of the board of counseling of the European Festival Association, of which he was appointed Vice President earlier this year. More recently he performed at London’s Wigmore Hall and Salzburg’s Mozarteum, held a Master Class at the RostropovichFoundation and played a first performance of Philip Glass’s composition “Façades” for flute and piano, with the autor at the piano. On 11 September 2006 he performed at the Dag Hamm arskjold Library Auditorium of the United Nations. He performed in the Berliner Philarmonie with Berliner Philarmoniker and in the Big Hall of Moscow Conservatory, in a Gala Concert with Yuri Bashmet and Gidon Kremer.
Massimo Mercelli has made two tournèe with “I Virtuosi Italiani”, conducted by Krzsystoff Penderecky, playing his Sinfonietta for flute and strings. He performed the World Premiere of the new Cantata “Vuoto d’Anima Piena” by Ennio Morricone, under the baton of the composer and he has taken part in the Festival at Warsaw Philarmonic for the 75 years of Maestro Penderecky. In 2009/10 he played at Praga’s National Theatre with Denice Graves, in Cina with Krzsystoff Penderecki, in Milan at MiTo Festival, at Vienna MusikVerein. He recently performed the World Premiére of the Concerto for flute and Strings by Michael Nyman dedicated to him.
Music manager, pianist and the founder of Vilnius Festival
Mr Kevisas was Artistic Director of the National Philharmonic Society of Lithuania, Director General of the National Philharmonic Society of Lithuania, Director of the agency “Old and New Montecarlo”, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Consultant of international festivals and international arts projects, manager and Director General of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. He is an active concert pianist since 1983. Furthermore, he is the founder and member of G.Kėvišas Chamber Music Ensemble, which toured in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Sweden. He is the founder of Vilnius Festival.
Mr. Kevisas organized and managed over 80 concerts with Lord Yehudi Menuhin, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir in South America (Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires among other venues), South Africa, Egypt, Europe, numerous performances at the world famous festivals and concert halls with Mstislav Rostropovich, Krzysztof Penderecki, Jessye Norman, Maurice Andre, Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, performances of Mstislav Rostropovich and the Lithuanian National Ballet Company in Germany, Greece, Egypt, USA (Kennedy Arts Centre), Japan, Great Britain (London Barbican Centre).
Opera director Chemnitz
Born in Halle / Saale, Patrick Wurzel studied musicology, German and art history in his hometown and literature in Hagen. After engagements as assistant stage director at the theaters in Halle / Saale, Neustrelitz and Saarbrücken he continued his career at Deutsche Oper am Rhein. He gained important professional experience in Tel Aviv, Budapest and Klagenfurt before taking over the position of Artistic Production Manager at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich. Since the beginning of the 2016/2017 season, Patrick Wurzel is Director of Artistic Planning and Operational Opera Director in Chemnitz.
Artistic director Forum am Schlosspark Ludwigsburg
Lucas Reuter was born in Stuttgart. He first studied architecture, then musicology, dramatics and art history. As a program planner and author of music broadcasts, he worked for Bayerischer Rundfunk and Südwestrundfunk. In 2005 / 2006 he assisted Prof. Klaus Zehelein at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. He worked as a dramaturge for opera productions at the Nationaltheater Weimar, the Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, the Prinzregententheater Munich, Nationaltheater Mannheim and the National Reisopera of the Netherlands. From 2010 to 2011 he was dramaturge of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele. In 2012 he curated »Freispiel«, the festival of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2011 he is Artistic Director of the Forum am Schlosspark in Ludwigsburg.
Director of Theaters Imola
Opera singer and Prof. of voice Zagreb
The soprano Vlatka Oršanić was born in Zabok. She spent her childhood in Varaždin where she, at the age of seven, started learning piano at the School of Music, as 14-year old she transferred to solo singing with Prof. Ankica Opolski.
At the age of 16 she entered Ljubljana Academy of Music, studying voice under Prof. Ondina Otta-Klasinc. Already during her studies she received The Prešern Student Award for the role of Susana in of The Marriage Figaro. In September 1978 she made her debut in the role of Sophie in opera Werther at Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet, where she graduated in spring 1979 in the role of Gilda in Rigoletto. In 1979 she won the 1st award at Mario del Monaco Opera International Vocal Competition for Singers in Italy and in 1980 she won the 2nd award at international television competition in Belgium. In the period 1985 -1990 she took additional studies in Vienna with Kms Olivera Miljaković.
She appeared at various opera houses, such as Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Staatstheter Dramstadt, Aaltotheater Essen, Oper Leipzig, Festspielhaus Salzburg, Teatro Communale Firenca and Oper Bonn, at music festivals such as Salsburg Summer Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Edinburgh Festival, Autumn Festival in Paris, The Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) as well as at some most important European concert halls such as Musikverein and Konzerthaus (Vienna), Konzerthaus Berlin, Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Philharmonie (Köln), Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris) and Auditorio Municipal (Madrid).
Opera singer and the president of the International Music association Ebe Stignani
Soprano Elvira Hasanagić studied opera and concert singing in Munich. She is a winner of many national and international competitions. In Dresden she was named “young opera singer of the year 2017”.
Elvira Hasanagić workes in opera houses such as Staatsoper u.d. Linden Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz München, Prinzregententheater München, Staatstheater Saarbrücken, Staatstheater Kassel, Nationaltheater Mannheim, National Opera Ljubljana, Staatstheater Schwerin, Theater St. Gallen etc. with conductors Ulf Schirmer, James Conlon, Julian Salemkour, Klaus Arp, George Petrou, Wolfram Chris, Uroš Lajovic, Alexander Drčar and with stage directors Rosamund Gilmore, Oliver Tambosi, Andreas Baesler, Ruben Szuchmacher, Wolfgang Quetes etc. She shares the stage with singers such as Ramón Vargas, José Cura, Sabine Hogrefe and in 2019 also with Plácido Domingo.
Great passion for Lied and Oratorio have led the young soprano to Festivals and concert halls such as Ravinia Festival Chicago, Heidelberger Frühling, Ljubljana Festival, Kölner Philharmonie, Ljubljana Philharmonie, Philharmonie am Gasteig München, City Hall Oslo, Frankfurter Dom, Regensburger Dom, Festival do Estoril Lisbon etc. where she sang song recitals, symphonic works for orchestra and voice and also. Her interpretation of Strauss` Four last songs with Slovenian Philharmonics and maestro Uroš Lajovic in Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana was transmitted live in national radio.
She recorded an opera CD with Bayerisches Rundfunkorchester in Munich – Mayr „La Lodoiska“, where she sang the role of Resiska. In February 2018 her first solo recording “Longing” has been released in cooperation with National radio Ljubljana and soon another song CD in cooperation with Deutschland Radio Kultur Berlin.
She is the founder of Stignani Young Artist Program and Stignani Voice Competition Imola, Italy.
Pianist and co-founder of Stignani Young Artist Program and Stignani Competition
Francesco Frudua has graduated with honors in piano from the “G. Rossini” Conservatory of Pesaro and in Vocal chamber music from the “A. Boito” Conservatory of Parma.
He has improved his piano skills with M. Teresa Carunchio, Bruno Canino and Umberto Finazzi, and he has attended the three-year Chamber music Program from the International Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” of Imola with Pier Narciso Masi. He has studied Lieder repertoire and vocal technique with Irwin Gage, Barbara Hurt, Patricia Brown and Reiko Sanada, and piano accompaniment for opera repertoire with Leone Magiera, Reina Kabaiwanska, Nicola Pisani and Adelisa Tabiadon, in cooperation with many voice teachers.
He has recorded the original music by Luc Veillerette for the multimedia devices of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
He gives lectures and seminars of voice and Opera and Lieder music interpreting. He passionately organizes and participates in music events and prepares opera with piano accompaniment.
He performs in cooperation with many singers and other musicians both in chamber ensembles and as a piano accompanist. He is very active as a piano teacher and vocal coach for opera singers.
He has recently been invited by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Singapore to perform at the brand new auditorium of the Nanyang University.
In 2018, he co-founded the “Ebe Stignani” International Young Program and International Opera Competition.
He teaches piano and vocal chamber music at the public Music school “Vassura-Baroncini” in Imola.
Mag. Esther Schollum, Esther Schollum Artists´ Management
With a double major in Translation and Interpreting (French and Spanish) and ten years of experience in event management, press relations, communications and adult education, Esther Schollum founded Esther Schollum Artists’ Management in 1992, specialising in the representation of classical artists; ever since then, she has been working as an independent agent. In 2013 she became a lecturer at three of the top universities in the field (MDW, KUG, Mozarteum Salzburg) and has been sharing her extensive real-world knowledge with young artists, both about entering upon an artist’s career and about working with agents, promoters and presenters.