- David Scarr (South Africa) – comes to conduct the National Youth Wind Orchestra in Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown in July
Port Elizabeth born musician David Scarr received his early musical education from Robert Selley, John Ashton-Jones and Sean Kierman before building an international career that has taken him to destinations throughout Europe, America, Canada, Asia, Australia and North Africa.
Following a short period in Cape Town, Scarr moved to Vienna to study conducting with Reinhard Schwarz at the Vienna Conservatoire, while still pursuing a professional career as a horn player. As a member of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in particular, he performed in some of the finest concert halls in the world including Carnegie New York, Kennedy Centre Washington, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Royal Stockholm, Gothenburg and Oslo Concert Halls in Scandinavia, and worked with some of Europe’s foremost musicians including Sir Neville Marriner, Heinz Holliger, Heinrich Schiff, Phillipe Entremont, Thomas Zehetmair, Pamela Frank, and Elizabeth Leonskaja amongst many others.
His conducting engagements have included working with Vienna’s Residenz Chamber Orchestra, the renowned Johann Strauss Capelle, the St Augustine’s Chamber Orchestra, the Baden Stadttheater Orchestra, the Vienna Festival of Modern Opera, recording premieres of works by Austrian composers, notably Herbert Lauermann, and a highly acclaimed season with the Australian Ballet in the Sydney Opera House. As a founder member of the Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra in Vienna, he held the position of Co-Principal conductor, conducting some 40 concerts per year, and directing productions with the orchestra in Portugal, Spain, Rumania and Scandinavia.
He has been a regular visitor to his home country, conducting opera, oratorio and symphony concerts with almost all South African orchestras, as well as the finals of the UNISA International Piano Competition. His performances have been widely broadcast on SABC Radio and TV, Classic FM and Fine Music Radio. He has directed a number of world premieres of works by South African composers, and has performed with South African soloists Catherine Foxcroft, Nina Schumann, Jill Richards, Sibongile Khumalo, the late Andre Howard, James Grace, and Leon Bosch amongst others.
Scarr is also a dedicated educator. He has enjoyed productive periods as Head of the Beau Soleil Music Centre in Cape Town, as Professor and Head of the Rhodes University Music Department, has taught at the annual French Horn Symposium in Drosendorf, Lower Austria, since 2007, and at the Retz Music School in Austria where he was Musical Director of both the Retz Chamber Orchestra and the highly acclaimed “Rezterland Brass Connection”.
He returned to South Africa in January 2016 to take up the position of Head of Brass studies at Kingswood College in Grahamstown. He continues a busy schedule conducting orchestras around the country, as well as in Austria during the school recesses. Upcoming major engagements include Mozart’s Requiem in Pretoria, the South African National Youth Wind Ensemble at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and directing the Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra’s 2018 Scandinavian tour which will include performances in the major concert halls of Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo, and Rekjavik in Iceland.
- Pavel Fischer (Czech Republic) – comes to conduct the National Youth String Orchestra in Johannesburg in December
Pavel Fischer is a Tutor in Violin at the RNCM. He completed studies at both the Prague Conservatoire and Prague Academy of Performing Arts between 1979 and 1989 under the guidance of Professor Nora Grumlíková. In 1988, together with pianist Ivo Jančik, he won the international chamber music competition in Trapani, Italy.
In 1989 Pavel became one of the co-founders and leader of the Škampa Quartet, a group with which he regularly gave concerts in venues worldwide, including Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Santory Hall in Tokyo. Pavel has also worked with musicians including Josef Suk, Jiři Bárta, D Pecková, Melvyn Tan, Kathryn Stott, Wolfgang Holzmair, Ronald van Spaendonck, Nikolaj Demiděnko and, amongst others, Janine Jansen.
His interest in the music of other genres produced a long-term collaboration with Iva Bittová, the founding of the crossover ensemble Camael, and the trio Bardolino. In 2009 he participated as a guest in the project of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull.
Pavel is also a composer; his first string quartet, commissioned by the Lake District Festival, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2008.
- Bjørn Breistein (Norway) – comes to conduct the National Youth Wind Orchestra in Johannesburg in December
Born in 1973 in Bergen, Norway. Bjørn studied at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, and was a professional euphonium player with the military bands in Kristiansand and Bergen from 1996 to 2013. As a euphonium-soloist he has won three national competitions in Norway, and has also appeared as a soloist in Germany, Scotland and New-Zealand.
Bjørn is now working full time as a conductor. He has studied conducting at masterclasses in Norway, Czech Republic and Germany. Teachers has included Kirk Trevor, Johannes Schlaefli, Tsung Yeh, Peter Szilvay, Rolf Gupta, Colin Metters and the late Alan Hazeldine. As a conductor, Bjørn has a special interest in contemporary music. He has lead first-performances of several Norwegian composers, including Jan Erik Mikalsen, Stig Nordhagen and Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen.
Bjørn has conducted Arctic Sinfonietta, a professional contemporary ensemble based in Tromsø. He has also worked with B3, a semi-professional wind-ensemble that focuses on contemporary music.
Bjørn has conducted the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra, Bulgaria, on several occasions, including the orchestra’s recording of tuba concertos with Norwegian tuba-soloist Eirik Gjerdevik. Bjørn works frequently with the University Symphony Orchestra, Bergen, and he is their main conductor for the 2016/17 season.
Throughout his musical life, Bjørn has had a strong association with the Norwegian band-movement. He has worked as a conductor with many of the leading bands in Norway, including Manger Musikklag, Stavanger Brass Band, Bjørsvik Brass and Bergen Symphonic Band to name but a few.
He is currently the musical director of Krohnengen Brass Band and Trøndelag Youth Wind Orchestra, in addition to freelance engagements nationwide in Norway.
He has a large repertoire, and has worked with many soloists and artists in a variety of genres. Bjørn has conducted the National Youth Wind Orchestra on various occassions since 2010, and is delighted to return to South Africa in December.
- Ewa Strusińska (Poland) – conducted the National Youth Orchestra in Cape Town in July
A finalist and laureate at the prestigious Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Ewa Strusińska is Music Director and Principal Conductor of Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 2008 to 2010, Ewa Strusińska held the position of Assistant Conductor with the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester – the first ever female assistant conductor of a British orchestra. She worked closely with the orchestra’s Music Director, Sir Mark Elder CBE, conducting the orchestra in many concerts across England, and simultaneously held the position of Music Director with the Hallé Youth Orchestra.
Ewa Strusińska has also built up an extensive operatic and ballet repertoire as an Assistant Conductor at the Polish National Opera and Polish National Ballet – Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, collaborating on pieces including Nabucco, The Flying Dutchman, Madame Butterfly, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Halka. She made her Polish National Opera debut with Medeamaterial by Dusapin, and her other opera work includes appearances at the Royal Northern College of Music (Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro) and Buxton Opera Festival (Bennet’s All the King’s Men and McNeff’s Tarka the Otter).
Internationally, she has worked with a range of orchestras including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bamberger Symphoniker, The Hallé Orchestra, Hofer Symphoniker, Sinfonietta Baden, Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, National Polish Radio Orchestra, Częstochowa Philharmonic Orchestra, Rzeszów Philharmonic Orchestra, Koszalin Philharmonic Orchestra, Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra, Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw National Opera Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven Academy Orchestra, Sinfonia Iuventus, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Gävle Symfoniorkester, Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Sinfonietta and the Northern Sinfonia.
Born in Poland, Ewa Strusińska studied at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, and upon finishing her studies spent a year working as Assistant Conductor at Czestochowa Philharmonic Orchestra. In the same year she won a position of Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and moved to the United Kingdom. In 2008 she was chosen by the London Symphony Orchestra to be one of three participants in a masterclass by Valery Gergiev, and in 2010 collaborated with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden.
She has been given the title ‘Ambassador of Stalowa Wola’ by her home town. The accolade recognises an individual’s personal achievements in Poland and abroad.
Ewa Strusińska has been appointed Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra, taking up the role from the 2013/14 artistic season.