Asier Polo & Marta Zabaleta

Biography Asier Polo & Marta Zabaleta

Asier Polo
Considered by the specialist music press as one of the most important cellists of his generation, Asier Polo has worked with many of the major international orchestras, such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionalle della RAI, Dresdner Philharmonie, Orchestre de Paris, the BBC Philharmonic, Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Symphoniker, Orquesta Nacional de México, Orquesta Sinfónica de Sao Paulo, Louisiana Philharmonic, Orquesta Nacional de España and the Basel Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of distinguished conductors such as Pinchas Steinberg, Christian Badea, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Claus Peter Flor, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Günther Herbig, Juanjo Mena, Antoni Wit and Anne Manson.

He is a regular guest at prestigious festivals, such as those held in Schleswig-Holstein, Nantes, Ohrid, Biennale di Venezia, Rome, Lisbon, Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Morelia (Mexico), Granada and the Quincena Musical in San Sebastián.

He has appeared with great artists such as Silvia Marcovici, Nicolás Chumachenco, Sol Gabetta, Isabelle van Keulen, Josep Colom, Eldar Nebolsin, Gerard Caussé, Cuarteto Janácek, Cuarteto Casals and Alfredo Kraus, who in his last years invited him to perform as soloist at his concerts, with engagements at the Maggio Fiorentino, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, the Tonhalle in Zurich and the prestigious Musikverein in Vienna, as well as a successful tour of the major concerts halls in Japan.

He is devoted to contemporary music, especially from his native country. Always in demand to perform new compositions, he has a great interest in repertoire that is somewhat unknown by the general public (for example works by Tomás Marco and Carmelo Bernaola). Composers such as Gabriel Erkoreka, Jesús Torres, Luis de Pablo, Jesús Villa-Rojo and Antón García Abril have all dedicated their cello concertos to Asier Polo. He enjoys combining modern music with the great classical repertoire, covering everything from Bach’s Suites, classical and romantic concertos, to contemporary music such as Dutilleux, Cristobal Halffter and Sofia Gubaidulina.

He has recorded 14 discs for major record labels such as Naxos, Claves, RTVE and Marco Polo, playing some of the major Spanish repertoire for cello, such as the concertos by Usandizaga, Rodrigo, Escudero, Marco, Bernaola and Rueda. Highlights include the disc dedicated to the work of composer Sofía Gubaidulina (Et’cetera Records) and the recording of the “Ecos y Sombras” (Echoes and Shades) DVD dedicated to Cristóbal Halffter, performing his Cello Concerto Nº2 with the Spanish National Orchestra (Koala KPA 111).

Two new discs will soon been released with the Spanish National Orchestra, conducted by Juanjo Mena: Joaquín Rodrigo’s two cello concertos, “Concierto como un Divertimento” and “Concierto al modo Galante”, as well as Alberto Ginastera’s second Cello Concerto, Op.50 (1980).

Asier Polo studied in Bilbao, Madrid, Cologne and Basel with Elisa Pascu, María Kliegel and Ivan Monighetti, and also received guidance from János Starker, Natalia Gutman and Mstislav Rostropovich in various masterclasses. He soon stood out as a promising young musician, winning the first prizes in Cello and Chamber Music at the National Young Musicians Competition in Spain.

Asier Polo has been awarded numerous prizes, and amongst others, the “Ojo Crítico” by the Radio Nacional de España (2002) and the Fundación CEOE Prize for Musical Interpretation (2004). In 2009 he was appointed “Ilustre de Bilbao” (Bilbao being his native city).

He is regularly invited to be on the judging panel of international cello competitions, such as the Dotzauer Wettbewerb (Germany), Concurso internacional Carlos Prieto (México), B. Mazzacurati Competition (Italy) and the Manhattan International Music Competition (New York). He also gives masterclasses in many countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil.

He is the Artistic Director of Forum Musikae (International Music Academy and Festival in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid). The aim of the organisation is to raise young people’s interest in classical music, and to promote and support talented students with their musical training. He is currently professor at the Centro Superior de Música del País Vasco, “Musikene” in San Sebastián and Artistic Director of the Music and Performing Arts Faculty of the Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio in Madrid.

Asier Polo plays a Francesco Ruggeri Cello (Cremona, 1689) purchased in collaboration with the Fundación Banco Santander.

Marta Zabaleta
The Spanish pianist Marta Zabaleta studied with Dominique Merlet, Dimitri Bashkirov and Alicia de Larrocha. She is a laureate of international piano competitions such as Santander, Jaén, Zaragoza and Darmstadt, and has performed under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, and Harry Christophers, among others, and with orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and the Basque Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded for EMI (Joaquín Rodrigo), Claves (Francisco Escudero), and RTVE (Angel Martín Pompey). She has been awarded the Isaac Albéniz medal.

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