Chantal Balestri, Piano
Praised for her “confidence and sound technique” (South Florida Classical Review), Italian/Swiss pianist Chantal Balestri is a versatile classical musician active worldwide. Her recent career includes collaborations with contemporary composers, performances as a soloist with orchestra with the Brussels Chamber Orchestra and the Michoacan Symphony Orchestra (Mexico) and masterclasses in international conservatoire and universities.
After her debut as a soloist with orchestra at age 13, she has concertized worldwide at venues including Carnegie Hall (New York, USA), Miniaci Performing Art Center (Miami, USA), Wiener Saal (Austria), Steinway Hall in Nashville (USA), Harbin Concert Hall (China), just to mention some.
Her repertoire includes a wide range of styles, from Baroque to contemporary eras. She has presented premeries, including Massimo Giuntoli's "Piano store"; commissioned by Yamaha Piano Europe. She has performed in important contemporary music Festivals, including “Composers Now Festival” in New York City and the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs (NY). She has collaborated with renowned composers, such as Rodion Shchedrin, Barbara Jazwinski, Gilead Mishory, Annie Gosfield, Roberto Piana, Paolo Marchettini, Andrea Talmelli, David Winkler.
She also performed along with multiple orchestras, including the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, the Garden State Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of the Americas, the America Modern Orchestra, Symphonyorchester Crescendo. Conductors collaborations includes Felipe Tristan, Alessandro Calcagnile, Ruth Reinhardt, Ward Stare, David Bernard, Felix Mildenberger, Michael Guttman. She was selected to participate in the 2018 Easter Tourney with the Gustav Mahler Young Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Jurovskij and Lorenzo Viotti. Active chamber music performer, Chantal has collaborated both with instrumentalists and singers, including the Metropolitan Opera musicians and The Julliard School professors.
Chantal earnes BM an MM degrees with honors at the Lucca Conservatory (Italy) at the age of 18 and 21 and received a MM with honors “for extraordinary achievement” at the New York University, where she studied with Jeffrey Swann. During the academic year 2012-2013, she has studied through the Erasmus program at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany, with Gilead Mishory. She also studied piano solo with Fabio Bidini and Kostantin Bogino in Italian Music Academies.
As an educator, Chantal has been invited as a Visiting Professor to teach piano, chamber music, and management skills in universities worldwide, including the Nashville Steinway Hall (USA), the Conservatory of Music of Valdivia (Chile), the Piano League (New York), Universidad Michoacana (Mexico). While being an Adjunct Faculty member in Piano Studies and a staff pianist in Vocal Department and Screen Scoring at the New York University, Chantal was appointed New York President of the World Piano Teachers Association (WPTA). Recently, she has been working in her home country in various Music Conservatories and Universities to teach piano and music management.
Chantal really believes in how music and social impact are strongly connected, resulting in participation in many social and educational projects, including AIGU (Italian Youth Association for UNESCO). For her involvement in this thematic, she was selected as a cohort member of the Global Leaders Program for music leaders worldwide and has been recognized for her work as mentor in the program through a certificate released by the Harvard University (June 2022).
Chantal is the Co-Founder of the Lunigiana International Music Festival (since 2018, acting as Artistic Director) and MusiKenya (since 2021, acting as President), both no-profit organizations with a strong mission to impact the local communities and territories by providing high-quality music education and performances.
CATERINA DI TONNO
Born in Naples but raised in Rome, Caterina Di Tonno began her musical studies at a very young age as a pianist and violinist. Later on, she took up voice studies with Maria Luisa Carboni and graduated from the Conservatorio of Pescara. She perfected her education under the guidance of Shirley Verrett and Alfonso Antoniozzi. The private coaching of Mariella Devia had a profound influence on her technique.
After joining the NDU choir at the age of 11, her piano teacher discovered her vocal power.
Di Tonno has won prizes at many competitions in Italy (“Di Stefano”, “Bellini”, “Duchi d'Acquaviva”, As.Li.Co. among them). In 2007 she won the “Toti Dal Monte” Competition as Despina in Così fan tutte, launching her operatic career. Thanks to her intuitive sense of theatre, she excels in comedic and brilliant roles, especially those of Mozart. Highlights in recent seasons include the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy produced by Teatro La Fenice in Venice starting from 2011 and frequently revived in the following years, directed by Damiano Michieletto and conducted by Antonello Manacorda, in the three roles of Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Despina in Così fan tutte. With the same creative team, she was Papagena in Die Zauberflöte in 2015. In 2010 she portrayed Giovanna in the TV production of Rigoletto with Placido Domingo conducted by Zubin Mehta. She worked with Mehta again in 2011 as Sacerdotessa in Aida at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Her operatic repertoire includes Adina in L’elisir d’amore (Mantova, 2006), Nannetta in Falstaff (Circuito Lombardo, 2008), Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Napoli, 2008), Berenice in L’occasione fa il ladro (Lugo, 2009), Serpina in La serva padrona (Treviso, 2010), Olimpia in La fuga in maschera by Spontini (Festival Jesi e Napoli, 2012-13), Clorinda in Cenerentola (San Carlo di Napoli, 2014), Valenciennes in La vedova allegra (Cagliari, 2015). Upcoming performances include La grotta di Trofonio by Paisiello at Festival della Valle d’Itria and Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
Her versatility led her often to experiment with-non-strictly classical vocal techniques in projects such as the soundtrack by Carlo Crivelli for the tv movie Virginia la monaca di Monza directed by Alberto Sironi and Gershwin songs with the famous jazz pianist Giorgio Gaslini.
Her extensive baroque, chamber, oratorio and concert experience include Mendelssohn’s Ein Sommernachtstraum (in Naples conducted by Jeffrey Tate and in Milan conducted by Antonello Manacorda), Bach’s Magnificat (MiTo Festival, conducted by Manacorda), Rossini’s Stabat mater (Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra in Beirut), Beethoven’s Egmont (Pomeriggi Musicali),Spohr’s Des Heilands letzte Stunden (Coro e Orchestra dell’Opera di Roma), Mercadante’s Le ultime sette parole (Coro e Orchestra del San Carlo di Napoli) and, in 2016, Mozart’s and Donizetti’s Requiems with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra.
Federica Carnevale, after an artistic career in experimental theater and a degree in Literature and Philosophy achieved with honors in 2001 at the University of L'Aquila, in 2002 she graduated with honors as Opera Singer under the guidance of Maestro Mario Machì at the Conservatory of Music “A.Casella” of L'Aquila.After joining the NDU choir at the age of 11, her piano teacher discovered her vocal power.
After winning the Spoleto International Competition and the Mattia Battistini International Prize, in 2009 she won the Toti Dal Monte International Competition, thanks to which she made her debut in the role of Rosina in "La vera costanza" by FJ Haydn, a role that between 2009 and 2012, under the direction of Jesus Lopez Cobos, she performed at the Teatro Real in Madrid, at the Teatro Comunale in Treviso, at the National Theater of Sofia, at the Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia, at the Opéra di Saint Etienne, at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie by Liège, and, conducted by Jérôme Corréas (Les Paladins orchestra), at the Opéra de Rouen- Haute Normandie.Her versatility led her often to experiment with-non-strictly classical vocal techniques in projects such as the soundtrack by Carlo Crivelli for the tv movie Virginia la monaca di Monza directed by Alberto Sironi and Gershwin songs with the famous jazz pianist Giorgio Gaslini.
In 2010 he won the First Prize at the International Sacred Music Competition in Rome. She therefore developed his career above all in the repertoires of Baroque, Mozart and Rossini opera: she sang, among others, works by Vivaldi ("L'Olimpiade" in Basel, Herne, and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam), Galuppi (“L’inimico delle donne" at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège), Traetta ("Armida" at the Itria Valley Festival in Martinafranca), Porpora ("Orfeo" at the Itria Valley Festival), Mozart ("La finta Giardiniera "at the Opéra de Rouen-Haute Normandie;" Die Zauberflöte "at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie;" The Marriage of Figaro "at the Piccolo Opera Festival FVG - Rijeka Opera House), Ristori ("Le Fate” at the Eckhoff Festival in Gotha), Rossini (Rosina in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" at the San Niccolò Theater in Spoleto, at the Vittorio Emanuele Theater in Messina, at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, at the Qatar National Theater; the main role in "La Cenerentola" at the Teatro Regio in Turin, at the Teatro Nuovo in Spoleto, at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan; Isabella in "L 'Italiana in Algeri" at the Marrucino Theater of Chieti).
In 2010 she was chosen by Riccardo Muti as the cover of the role of Juditha in Jommelli's "Betulia Liberata", for the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and for the Ravenna Festival.
In recent years she has expanded his operatic repertoire: she was Fenena in Verdi’s ‘’ Nabucco’’ (Recital, Fondazione Toscanini- Teatro Regio di Parma), Zita in “Gianni Schicchi” by G. Puccini (Teatro Verdi di Trieste), Musico in “Manon Lescaut” by G. Puccini (Teatro Comunale “Pavarotti” di Modena, Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, Teatro Municipale di Piacenza), Dryade in “Ariadne auf Naxos” by R. Strauss (Opéra Royal de Wallonie), Suzuki in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” (Teatro Marrucino di Chieti, Teatro Flavio Vespasiano di Rieti), Bizet’s ‘’Carmen’’ in the title role (Taranto Opera Festival, Mythos Opera Festival), and as Mercédés (Teatro Verdi di Trieste), Amneris in Verdi’s “Aida” (Cirella Opera Festival).
She was also Norina in Donizetti's “Don Pasquale”, in the version written for the famous mezzo soprano Pauline Viardot at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.
During her career, Federica Carnevale has also given great importance to the sacred and symphonic repertoire ("Requiem" by Mozart and Verdi, "Stabat Mater" by Pergolesi, "Messiah" by Handel, "Salve Regina" by Porpora, "Magnificat" BWV 243 by Bach, “Magnificat” by Vivaldi) and also to chamber music, in German (Brahms, Mahler, Zemlinsky), French (Berlioz, Gounod, Saint
Saëns, Fauré) and Italian (Bellini, Tosti, Respighi). In the main of contemporary music she has participated in the first absolute performances of various authors (Boccadoro, Mancuso, Pagotto, Cascioli). She has worked with distinguished directors and directors: in addition to those mentioned, with Rinaldo Alessandrini, Fabio Biondi, Marcello Bufalini, Oleg Caetani, Fabrizio Carminati, Jimmy Chiang, Elio De Capitani, Patrick Davin, Pippo Delbono, Giancarlo Del Monaco, Diego Fasolis, Massimo Gasparon, Andrea Marcon, Michele Mariotti, Carlos Mena, George Petrou, Giorgio Pressburger, Cécile Roussat & Julien Lubek, Corrado Rovaris, Andreas Spering, Enrico Stinchelli.
She has recorded several operatic and chamber music titles: "Didone Abbandonata" by B. Galuppi (CD Bongiovanni), "La Traviata" by G. Verdi (DVD Dynamic), "L'inimico delle donne" by B. Galuppi (DVD Dynamic), "Don Pasquale" by G. Donizetti (DVD Bongiovanni), "L'ambizione delusa" (CD Dynamic), "Le Fate" (DVD Musica Novantiqua), "Musica & Regime 3" (CD Musica Novantiqua), " I prodigi della divina grazia nella conversione e morte di San Guglielmo Duca d’Aquitania ”(Cd Musica Novantiqua).
She is currently professor of Poetry for music and musical dramaturgy in Italian Conservatories.
Mira Akiki, a Lebanese coloratura Soprano, known for mastering Vocal and Acting techniques with high agility. She discovered her passion for music when she was 5, every time she heard her father playing the piano.
After joining the NDU choir at the age of 11, her piano teacher discovered her vocal power.
She joined the Lebanese Higher Conservatory of Music six years later, and graduated in Opera Singing in 2015 with honors, class of Fr. “Toufic Maatouk”.
She had the privilege to work with renowned international singers and vocal coaches namely Elizabeth Norberg Schulz, Cinzai Forte, Luciana D'Intino, Caterina Di Tonno, Simone Alaimo, Joyce El Khoury, Shady Torbey, Xenia Preisenberger and many others, and has collaborated with international directors as Marco Spada, Alessio Pizzech, Roberto Catalano, Mirana Naim, and Joseph Sassine.
Charles Eid, aged 24 years old, is a Lebanese Tenor. He's the student of Toufic Maatouk. For the last 7 years, he studied opera at the Antonine University Music Conservatory, attended several masterclasses from various professional opera singers, gaining a large set of skills. In spite of his young age, Charles has a wide and professional music repertoire as a soloist and performed in many operas (Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro, Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore...), sacred works (Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Handel’s Messiah...) and other events in several countries around the world. He was a vocal coach at the Conservatory in Bikfaya - Lebanon for 3 years. Adding to his musical career, Charles is an accomplished Software Engineer.
Lately Charles Eid has been selected to participate in the production of “” at the Weimar Lyric Opera studio in Germany
Cesar Naassy, Bass-Baritone
Known for his striking stage presence and deep warm voice, Cesar finds himself particularly well in the works of Mozart. His notable vocal agility and cantabile voice, also allow him to tackle the Belcanto repertoire of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. Some of the roles he performed on stage include Raimondo in “Lucia di Lammermoor”, Dulcamara in “Elisir d'amore", Don Alfonso in “Così fan tutte”, Bartolo in “Le nozze di Figaro, Sarastro in “Die Zauberflöte”, The king of Scotland in “Ariodante” and newer works, such as Superintendant Bud in Benjamin Britten's “Albert Herring”.
Since the start of his singing career, he has performed on the international stage in renowned theatres, such as "Teatro San Carlo" in Naples, “Teatro Flavio Vespasiano” in Rieti, “Auditorium della Concigliazione” in the Vatican, “Teatro di Ostia antica” in Rome, all the way to “Théatre de l'Opéra de Montreal” and “Théatre Monument National” in Montreal.
He has had the privilege to work with world renowned directors such as Charles Binamé, and has studied with international artists such as,Elisabeth Norberg Schultz, Caterina Ditonno, Cinzia Forte, Roberto Frontali and Toufic Maatouk. He also holds two Masters degrees in Musicology and Performance from the prestigious McGill University in Montreal.
Antonine University Choir
One of the leading choirs in Lebanon, Antonine University Choir was founded in Baabda-Lebanon 1978. It has contributed since the eighties in the cultural enrichment of the Lebanese musical life with its repertory.
UA choir has performed in Rome, Milan, Nice, Lyon, Monaco, St. Étienne, Doha, Dubai, Al Aïn in United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Tbilisi, Paris, New york, Los Angeles, Muscat, Naples, Venice, Helsinki and Manhaus Brazil. It has participated in the Classical Music Festival of Al Ain (United Arab Emirates 2008-2009), Al Bustan International Festival (2009 to 2019), Byblos International Festival (2010-2011-2013-2014), Baalbeck International Festival (2011-2018-2020), Beirut Chants Festival-Lebanon (2008 to 2021), Ehdeniyat (2016), Tbilisi Opera Festival (2012), Festival d'Ile de France (2012-2013), and Bahrain International Music Festival (2013) Abu Dhabi Festival (2022). In May 2010, April 2013 and May 2015, the choir performed at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York. It made its Los Angeles debut in April 2014, performing at the LA City Hall. In November 2016, the choir also made its debut at the San Carlo opera house. In addition, the choir has represented Lebanon in the opening of the Lebanese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in May 2017. In October 2019, Antonine University Choir performed at the Manhaus Opera House in Brazil. In December 2022, the choir will perform Handel’s Messiah in Jordan with the Amman Chamber Orchestra.
Notre Dame University Choir
With more than a dozen concerts per season, numerous recordings and publications, as well as many international awards, the Notre Dame University Choir is one of Lebanon and the region’s outstanding choirs. A broad repertoire, a richly warm sound, an unmistakable interpretation all contributes to make it a permanent partner of the international festivals, and the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductors, where it functions as a musical ambassador for Beirut in the great concert halls around the world.
Along with the symphonic choral central repertoire, the annual season programing of the choir includes a wide range of Lebanese music, in close cooperation with celebrated composers, such as Iyad Kanaan, Gabriel Yared and Valentino Miserachs Grau, with the aim of developing and growing the Lebanese choral repertoire. Furthermore, Notre Dame University Choir is constantly developing new and unusual ways of experiencing choral music.
Since its establishment in 1993, it has been shaped by Reverend Khalil Rahme, a Maronite Mariamite monk, who returned to Beirut after completing his music studies in Rome, to found the choir and the School of Music at Notre Dame University, in addition to his numerous entrusted tasks at the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music.
Toufic Maatouk, Conductor
Toufic Maatouk, is one of the most compelling conductors of his generation. In the 2012 season, Maatouk began his tenure as Artistic Director of the Beirut Chants Festival in Lebanon. He is also Guest Conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013 and a Guest Conductor of the Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra Orchestra since 2017. Maatouk was appointed Artistic Director and Choir Master of the Antonine University Choir, in August 2005 and Head of the vocal department in the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music since October 2015. Maatouk has been Head of Academy of the Saudi Music Hubs in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) founded by the Saudi Ministry of culture and been selected as Academic Board member at the Global Leaders Program (USA). Lately, he was appointed Executive Manager for Programming at the Abu Dhabi Festival (UAE).
He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from the Istituto Pontificio di Musica Sacra (Pims) in Rome where he conducted and published different studies on the syro-maronite chants. As chief conductor, Toufic Maatouk has led the Antonine University choir for more than 18 years.
In 2020, Maatouk was knighted by the President of the Italian Republic as “Cavaliere dell’Ordine Della Stella d’Italia” and been nominated by the Peace and Prosperity Trust (UK) as Artistic adviser to the Trust.
He collaborated with several orchestras, festivals and theatres including Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo (Napoli), Orchestra Giovanile Mediterranea (Palermo), Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta (Rome), New England symphonic ensemble (New York), Los Angeles Sinfonietta Orchestra (Los Angeles), Saint Petersburg Symphony Orchestra (Russia), Kiev Symphony Orchestra (Ukraine), Al-Bustan International Festival, Baalbeck International Festival, Byblos International Festival (Lebanon), Festival d’ile de France (Paris), Carnegie Hall (New York), Global Leaders Program (New York),Teatro dell’Opera di Roma (Roma), Teatro di San Carlo (Napoli), Académie de l’Opéra de Paris, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (France), Romanian Radio (Bucharest), Al-Ain Music Festival (UEA), Bahrain International Music Festival (Bahrain).
He performed also with world-renowned artists such Maria Agresta, Jessica Pratt, Joyce El Khoury, Daniela Barcellona, Carmen Giannatasio, Laura Giordano, Maria Grazia Schiavo, Paolo Fanale, Giorgio Berrugi, Krzysztof Baczyk, Mirco Palazzi, Seong-Jin Cho, Dmitry Masleev, Jack Swanson, Anna Maria Labin, Eric Le Sage, Xavier De Maistres, Faycal Karaoui, Gabriele Ferro, Francesca Dego, Modigliani Quartet, Kodaly Quartet, Boris Andrianov, Alexander Ghindin, Caterina Di Tonno, Rosa Bove, Leonardo Cortellazzi and others.
He has been invited as a jury member to several prestigious competitions as the Ottavio Ziino International Liric Competition (Italy), Voce Verdiane International Competition (Italy) and the Biennale des Quatuors à cordes (Philharmonie de Paris).
He collaborates with many Orchestras such as Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra (Lebanon), Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo (Italy), Orchestra Giovanile Mediterranea (Italy), Roma Sinfonietta (Italy), New England Symphonic Ensemble (USA), Los Angeles Sinfonietta Orchestra (USA), Saint Petersburg Symphony Orchestra (Russia), Kiev Symphony Orchestra (Ukranine), Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra (Bucharest).
Maatouk published his new book on the Syro-Maronite tradition with Geuthner’s edition in Paris. Different articles are published in international musicology journals and 13 CD on the Maronite tradition with the Antonine University chorus.
Lately, he has been Jury member at the 21st edition of the Ottavio Ziino International Competition in Italy (September 2022). Upcoming schedule includes two concerts with the Radio Romania Chamber Orchestra (March 2023).
W.A.Mozart: Concerto n. 23 for Piano and Orchestra in A major .Kv 488
J.S.Bach: Magnificat in D Major BWV 243
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