Accompanists
For the Cello Competition, the candidates not only call on pianists to accompany them, but also on cellists, in particular for the Boccherini sonatas in the first round. The pianists accompany the candidates in the first round and in the semi-final. There are candidates who perform with their personal pianist. Below we present the official accompanists of the Competition.

Kristína Chalmovska
Kristína Chalmovska studied at the Žilina Conservatoire, at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, then at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London under Richard Markson and at the Hochschule der Künste in Zürich under Raphael Wallfisch and Roel Dieltiens. For two years, she took part in the Balthasar Neumann Academy Choir and Ensemble under Thomas Hengelbrock. She also specialises in early music and regularly performs as a continuo cellist: she has collaborated with a variety of ensembles such as Il Pomo d’Oro, the Solamente Naturali ensemble, the Basel Kammerorchester, the Zürcher Barock-Orchester, the Ripieno Ensemble, and the Orchestre de Musique des Lumières.
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Sebastian Comberti
Sebastian Comberti studied under Amedeo Baldovino, Derek Simpson, and Sidney Griller. A founding member of the Bochmann Quartet, he later became the principal cellist for the London Mozart Players, a position he still holds. His keen interest in historically informed performance led him to collaborate with many London-based groups using period instruments. He also performs as a soloist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Hanover Band. Sebastian Comberti founded the Cello Classics label, devoted to historical recordings and rare works, and has recorded sonatas by Boccherini and by Stephen Paxton, early nineteenth-century works with fortepiano, and concertos by Haydn and Zumsteeg.
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Richard Lester
A chamber musician, soloist, orchestra section leader, and teacher, Richard Lester is a founding member of the Domus ensemble and is a member of the Gould Piano Trio. He has been a member of the Florestan Trio, Hausmusik, and the London Haydn Quartet and was the principal cellist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a position he now holds in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He has made over forty chamber music recordings, including Mendelssohn’s complete works for cello and piano and Boccherini sonatas on period instruments. He co-directs the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival with the violonist Anthony Marwood. He teaches at the Royal College of Music and at the Guildhall School in London.
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Katharina Litschig
Katharina Litschig works all over Europe with orchestras and a variety of ensembles, as a chamber music partner, continuo cellist, and soloist. She studied in Zürich under Roel Dieltiens and later in Leipzig under Peter Bruns. Also inspired by classes she took with Kristin von der Goltz, she quickly developed a passion for early music and specialised in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century repertoire, which she studied under Jan Freiheit. Katharina Litschig is currently a co-principal cellist of the Akademie für Alte Musik in Berlin. She is also a member of the Spira Mirabilis ensemble and a founding member of Ensemble Tamuz, a group from Berlin that specialises in the Classical and Romantic repertoires.
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Karel Steylaerts
Karel Steylaerts studied at the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium Brussel under Carlo Schmitz and at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Cologne under Maria Kliegel. A laureate of the Tenuto Competition, he is the principal cellist of the Brussels Philharmonic and a member of TrioFenix. His recording of Bach’s Cello Suites was recently released by Etcetera Records. He is a member of the board of directors and of the selection committee of the FBN Van Gestel instrument fund set up by the Fondation Roi Baudouin. He teaches at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles. He plays an 1834 Lorenzo Ventapane cello.
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Victor Santiago Asuncion
The Filipino-American pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion made his debut at the age of eighteen with the Manila Chamber Orchestra, before going on to perform in New York at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 1999. In chamber music, he has appeared with artists such as Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Andres Diaz, James Dunham, Antonio Meneses, Joshua Roman, Cho-Liang Lin, and Giora Schmidt and the Emerson, Serafin, São Paulo, and Vega quartets. Victor Santiago Asuncion was the pianist of the Garth Newel Piano Quartet for three seasons. He was a member of the chamber music faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and has been a guest at other festivals, including the Amelia Island, Highland-Cashiers, Music in the Vineyards, and Santa Fe festivals. His discography includes the complete Beethoven sonatas with the cellist Tobias Werner, the Shostakovich and Rachmaninov sonatas with the cellist Joseph Johnson, and the Grieg, Chopin, and Rachmaninov sonatas with the cellist Eva Drachman. He also played on Lynn Harell’s award-winning disc ‘Songs My Father Taught Me’. Victor Santiago Asuncion is the founder and Artistic Director of the FilAm Music Foundation, which promotes Filipino classical musicians. He obtained a Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2007 from the University of Maryland and is a Steinway artist.
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Tatiana Chernichka
Born in Novosibirsk, Tatiana Chernichka won First Prize at the International Chopin Competition in Göttingen when she was only ten years old. Two years later, she gave her first solo recital and made her debut with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra. She studied at the Novosibirsk State Conservatory under Mary Lebenson, then under Elisso Virsaladze in Munich, where she was awarded a grant by the Live Music Now foundation. She finished her master’s at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, where she was taught by Klaus Kaufmann. Since then, Tatiana Chernichka has won many competitions : she won Third Prize at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano and at the Maria Canals International Music Competition in Barcelona. She is also a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. She has since performed in Germany mainly, and all over Europe and in Russia. She has been a guest artist at festivals such as Armonie sotto la Rocca in Italy and the Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen. Tatiana Chernichka has performed with orchestras such as the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, the Israel Symphony Orchestra, the Musica Viva Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Academy Orchestra, and the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra.
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José Gallardo
Born in Buenos Aires in Argentina, José Gallardo had his first piano lessons at the age of five. After attending the Conservatory in Buenos Aires, he went on to further studies under Poldi Mildner at the Hochschule für Musik in Mainz. It was in Mainz that he developed a passion for chamber music ; he has been inspired by artists such as Menahem Pressler, Alfonso Montecino, Karl-Heinz Kammerling, Sergiu Celibidache, Rosalyn Tureck, and Bernard Greenhouse. José Gallardo has won a number of national and international prizes, which have led to performances at numerous festivals, including the Lockenhaus, Verbier, Lucerne, Chopin and His Europe (Warsaw), Ludwigsburg, Kronberg, City of London, Budapest Academy, and Rheingau festivals. He has performed with, among others, Gidon Kremer, Vilde Frang, Barnabás Kelemen, Linus Roth, Nils Mönkemeyer, Tomoko Akasaka, Andreas Ottensamer, Nicolas Altstaedt, Julius Berger, Miklós Perényi, and Maximilian Hornung. He has recorded for the EMI, Warner, DG, Hänssler, Challenge Records Int., Oehms Classics, Neon, Genuin, and Naxos labels and has appeared in radio and television broadcasts from the BR, the SWR, the MDR, the BBC and RAI. Having previously taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Mainz, he now teaches at the Leopold-Mozart- Zentrum at Augsburg University. He and Andreas Ottensamer are the Artistic Directors of the Bürgenstock Festival in Lucerne, which is devoted to chamber music.
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Thomas Hoppe
Thomas Hoppe has collaborated with many renowned musicians and singers, including Itzhak Perlman, Antje Weithaas, Tabea Zimmermann, Alban Gerhardt, Jens Peter Maintz, and Frans Helmerson. After studying under Lee Luvisi, he continued his training at the Juilliard School of Music, where he worked for Dorothy DeLay and Itzhak Perlman’s studio. As a pianist for the ATOS Trio and for the wind ensemble 4.1, he has performed to acclaim at many concerts all over the world. For almost twenty years, he has accompanied the candidates at international competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition in Hanover, and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. He teaches masterclasses in musical accompaniment and in chamber music all over Europe, and also performs with quartets such as the Shanghai Quartet, the Modigliani Quartet, the Mandelring Quartet, and the Simply Quartet. Thomas Hoppe lives in Berlin with his family and has been a professor of chamber music at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen since 2018.
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Anna Naretto
Anna Naretto has made chamber music and Lieder performance the focus of her career as a pianist. She has partnered many leading artists and has been a guest at international festivals such as the Dresdner Musikfestspiele, the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Barge Music, Herkulessaal, the Frankfurter Kulturwoche, and the Kronberg festival. As a vocal coach and orchestra member, she is also actively involved in the world of opera (Oper Frankfurt and Staatstheater Darmstadt). She supplements her artistic activities by teaching at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt. She collaborates regularly with teachers such as Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, Wolfgang Boettcher, and Nobuko Imai at several prestigious academies, such as the Kronberg Academy, the Carl Flesch Akademie in Baden-Baden, Forum Artium, the Weimarer Meisterkurse, and the Jeunesses Musicales Germany. She regularly works as an accompanist for international competitions such as the ARD Music Competition in Munich and the Deutscher Musikwettbewerb. She studied under Sergio Verdirame, Rainer Hoffmann, Andreas Meyer-Hermann, Charles Spencer, and the members of the Altenberg Trio. She completed her musical education by taking masterclasses taught by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Irwin Gage, Andrea Lucchesini, Emilia Fadini, and Jesper Christensen.
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