Isabelle van Keulen, Violin


”Her taut musical intelligence and vivid sound combined with a fine instinct for the tender, searching quality of this music … absolutely magical.” The Guardian

Since her breakthrough in 1984 winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year, a competition that was broadcast all over Europe and watched live on television by millions, Isabelle van Keulen can now look back on many years of musical diversity. Not only is it always vital for her to approach the musical score with honesty and with an extremely consious approach to interpretation, she also strives to communicate with her audiences and musical partners, allowing her to perform in an inspirational, lively and enthusiastic manner.

Her versatility lies in the fact that she not only plays the violin, but as well viola with the same energy, performing chamber music in any thinkable combination and directing chamber orchestra performances. Whether in the over 20 year intense collaboration with the Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam, concerts with mezzo Christianne Stotijn, performing/directing the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, combining violin and viola in one appearance, founding a chamber music festival – from 1997 until 2006 Isabelle van Keulen was Artistic Director of the Delft Chamber Music Festival – giving masterclasses or being a soloist with orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic or NHK Tokyo. Above all, being faithful to the music is her highest priority.

She has over the course of her career engaged works written by contemporary composers. She had many concertos written especially for her (Theo Loevendie, Erkki-Sven Tüür) and has many other 20th and 21st century works in her repertoire: Concertos by Henri Dutilleux, John Adams, Lera Auerbach, Oliver Knussen and Brett Dean. She also likes to perform less known works by Colin Matthews and Concertos by Krenek, Pettersson and Busoni.

Isabelle van Keulen has made many recordings in the past decades, the most recent ones are Berg Violin Concerto (Chandos), a CD of violin-piano sonatas by Strauss, Nino Rota and Respighi (Channel Classics), Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet with Sharon Kam (Berlin Classics) , Bach’s Goldberg Variations  with the Leopold String Trio (Hyperion) and Prokofiev Complete Works for violin and piano with Ronald Brautigam (Challenge, December 2012). In May 2013 a high profile CD with music by Astor Piazzolla was released on Challenge Records, Tango!, combined with DVD/Bluray and documentary, with the Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble.

Since autumn 2012 she is professor for violin, viola and chamber music at the Luzern University of Arts.




Christian Gerber, Bandoneón


* 1976; studied at the Hochschule für Musik „Hanns Eisler“ in Berlin. Already in 1994 he began to occupy himself intensively with Argentenean tango. He participated in classes led by the Bandonion players J. J. Mosalini and A. Marcucci. Besides performing as a Soloist in numerous projects and concerts of contemporary music, film and theatre music (Schaubühne Berlin, Deutsches Theater, Schauspielhaus Hamburg among others) complete his wide ranged musical activities. Since 2003 he played regularly with “Tangocrash” , “Ensemble Hyperion” and the Gran orquesta tipica “Sabor a Tango” and takes part in grammy-awarded Luis Stazo´s “Stazo Mayor”.




Ulrike Payer, Piano


Ulrike Payer counts among the most versatile pianists of our time. Her repertoire not only includes solo pieces, as well as all renowned concerts and chamber music pieces and lieder, but also covers various styles and eras, from Baroque to modern day classical music.

Having been born into a theatre-based family in Wuppertal, Ulrike Payer studied in Brussels, Cologne and Hanover, winning several international prizes. Additionally she studied with Alexis Weissenberg, Tatjana Nikolajewa and the Amadeus Quartet.

Apart from working with different orchestras und such renowned conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Kirill Petrenko and Justus Frantz, Ulrike Payer is a regular guest at festivals throughout the world, for example at Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Delfter Kammermusikfestival, Peking Festival, Usedomer Musikfestival, La folle journée au Japon. Radio-, CD- and TV recordings document the wide variety of the artist’s work.

As a pianist, Ulrike Payer distinguished herself not only in the world of classical music, but also as an interpreter of Tango Argentino. An encounter with Alfredo Marcucci in 1998 was followed by concert appearances and an intense and fundamental exploration of the genre. Consequently, Ulrike Payer played concerts alongside the most prominent Argentine musicians, such as Cholo Montironi, Norberto Bondino, Carlos Buono and the Sexteto Mayor .

As a pianist with the NDR-Sinfonieorchester, Ulrike Payer worked with conductors Semyon Bychkov, Michael Gielen, Alan Gilbert und Andris Nelsons. Her chamber music partners include Isabelle van Keulen und Orfeo Mandozzi; in recent years, she has co-operated with Christian Poltéra, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Alisa Weilerstein und Saschko Gawriloff. A close collaboration exists with the actors Nina Hoger and Christian Brückner.

From 1999 to 2003 Ulrike Payer held a teaching assignment at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2004, she has been teaching at the Musikhochschule Mainz and the Musikhochschule Saarbrücken and is currently working with Nobuko Imai and Nils Mönkemeyer at Kronberg Academy.




Rüdiger Ludwig, Double-Bass


Rüdiger Ludwig was born 1970 in Mainz and received his first double-bass lessons at the age of fifteen. After one year he joined the National German Youth Orchestra and  participated in the young talent classes from the conservatory of Mainz and two years later he continued his studies with Professor Günter Klaus at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main.

1991 he joined the European Union Youth Orchestra and performed as principal double-bass under the direction of conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink, Carlo Maria Giulini, Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Ashkenazy and James Conlon.

After playing for one year at the Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra, Rüdiger Ludwig became 1995 co-principal double-bass at the NDR Hanover Radiophilharmonie, where he since performs in concerts both for radio and television in Germany and countries abroad like Japan, Spain, Brasil, Argentina, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, France and Norway.                                    

Next to this he performs regularly as a guest in orchestras like Hamburg State Opera, WDR Radio-Orchestra Köln, HR Radio-Orchestra Frankfurt, Luzern Festival Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. Over the years he interpreted all the major double-bass concertos with several orchestras.

Rüdiger Ludwig made recordings for the NDR Radio, both solo and chamber music as a member of the Ensemble Oktoplus among other soloist of the NDR Radiophilharmonie. Furthermore he appears regularly on chamber music platforms with artists like Isabelle van Keulen, the Leopold String Trio and Ulrike Payer.

He performs on a Auguste Sebastien Phillipe Bernardel („Вernardel Pere“) double-bass from 1856.