Eliane Rodrigues

From a very early age it was noticeable that Rio de Janeiro-born pianist Eliane Rodrigues was a child prodigy: she started composing at 3, played her first recital at 5, and performed with an orchestra at the ages of 6 and 7. From then on, she won prizes at numerous regional and national competitions, going on to win the special prize at the Van Cliburn Competition in the United States when she was just 18. She came in fifth place at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1983.


Since then, she has performed in major cities all over the world. For over 20 years, she has been invited annually to De Doelen in Rotterdam to perform a Chopin recital on Boxing Day.


1998 was an important year for Rodrigues: she was the key figure in the Swiss Música Romântica festival, at which she not only performed solo, but also conducted and composed pieces for. She has also played at open air festivals in Russia and Belgium for more than 20,000 people.


Next to performing onstage, Rodrigues is a professor at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp.


Rodrigues has recorded over 25 albums of both live concerts and studio albums, among them being Sergei Prokofiev’s five piano concertos and all eight of Beethoven’s piano concertos in St. Petersburg.


One of Rodrigues’ most recent projects was her collaboration with PARMA Recordings, which resulted in a digital re-release of the aforementioned Beethoven recordings on Naxos, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, two new albums (one featuring the works of Chopin and the other of Debussy) and a third album being released in 2019 with American music from Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin.




Nina Smeets

When Nina Smeets makes music, she fully expresses the feelings coming from her heart and soul. Smeets combines a fresh, delicate, and clear sound with a full range of musical colors. Her ability to mesmerize the audience with pure, sincere, and touching performances makes her an artist of unconditional value.


Smeets devotes herself fully to music. Next to performing music from many composers, Smeets also composes her own music. After the release of her solo piano book and album, Project Reborn, Smeets’ music was nominated for an award in 2016.


“Nina Smeets may caress the keys with unrivaled dexterity but it’s her underlying compositional instincts that leave us breathless with appreciation for ‘Project Reborn" — Akademia Music Awards


Smeets is living proof that rebirth is always possible. Being the daughter of internationally-renowned pianist Eliane Rodrigues, Smeets always had an intimate relationship with music. At the age of 3, Smeets was found drowned. She was reanimated and stayed in coma for several weeks, causing doctors to lose hope. Miraculously she regained consciousness after repeatedly listening to Mozart’s 12th piano concerto.


As a child, Smeets was always attracted to music. Her dream was to become a pianist. Smeets followed her dream and went to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. She not only broadened her knowledge as a solo pianist with her teacher Levente Kende and her mother Eliane Rodrigues, but also gained experience in accompanying vocalists (under the tutelage of Jozef De Beenhouwer and Lucienne Van Dyck), pianoforte (under the tutelage of Bart Van Oort and Ayako Ito), musical analysis (under the tutelage of Wim Henderickx and Yves Senden), and chamber music. Smeets also took several masterclasses with Yuri Serov, Kum-Sing Lee, Maria Szraiber, and Pierre Amoyal. After earning her master’s degree, Smeets made her debut with her mother, playing together as a piano duet. Both pianists still play together in many concerts all across Europe.


Smeets has played with many other artists such as Yuri Serov, Lidia Kovalenko, Gavriel Lipkind, Dana Zemtsov, Mikhail Zemtsov, Billy Pletinck, Stephanie Proot, Luc Tooten, Nadja Nevolovitsch, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove, Avi Avital, Dimitris Spouras, Carlo Willems, Koen Wilmaers, and Mathieu Van Bellen. She also played with the Antwerpen Camerata, VSO Orchestra, and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra.


Smeets has played concerts in numerous international festivals such as Música Romântica, Meister Interpreten, Arte Amanti, and Festival van Vlaanderen Basilika. Smeets has performed on many international concert stages in Norway, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany, playing solo and chamber music repertoire and repertoire for piano with orchestra.


The end of 2017 saw the beginning of a project for children which Smeets began. Together with her finacé, Gabriel Ferraz, Smeets created a method for toddlers to learn the basic principles of music. Their charity work had its official launch at the ZNA Koningin Paola Kinderziekenhuis in Antwerp. It was an occasion for which they invited Eliane Rodrigues to participate as well. Together they visited sick children, and each child received a copy of the book. The project gained a lot of attention from the media, was discussed on ATV, and was written about in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. In addition to this, Smeets and Ferraz created several shows where every child was given a copy of their book. As of December 2018, 4,000 children have attended their musical project.


Carlo Willems

At 18, Carlo Willems was asked to be percussionist at Swan Studios, which resulted in his performances on many recordings. From 1980 on, he studied at Lemmensinstituut where he obtained his diploma for percussion and chamber music with greatest distinction. In 1985 he became a laureate of the Tenuto Competition.


As a soloist, he performed with many orchestras including VRO Filharmonisch orkest, de Filharmonie, Nieuw Vlaams Symfonieorkest, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense, Harmonieorkest of Fedekam led by Walter Boeykens, and I Fiamminghi, Symfonisch Orkest of Dubrovnik. As a freelancer, he is tied to de Filharmonie, Il Novecento, Prometheus Ensemble, Filharmonisch Orkest van Luik, and I Solisti del Vento. He is also part of the Willy Claes Quartet. Concert tours have taken him to countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, South Africa, France, Hungary, the UK, and the United States.


Willems has taken part in several album recordings, including The Night Of the Proms, Feelin’Good with Trio Concorde; a solo performance in The Last Sleep of the Virgin by John Tavener with I Fiamminghi led by Rudolf Werthen; The Great Globe of Robert Groslot with Il Novecento; I Solisti del Vento in a work by Tars Lootens; L’Histoire du Soldat (Stravinsky) with Prometheus Ensemble led by Etienne Siebens; Triumph of Spirit over Matter by Wim Henderickx; Carnaval des animaux with Walter Boeykens Ensemble; Little Red Man with Willy Claes Quartet; ‘Arme ik’ of Flip Kowlier; and The Canticle of the Sun with soloist Pieter Wispelwey and Collegium Vocale Gent led by Daniel Reuss.


In 2003 he recorded his very own album: Carlo Willems and Friends I, followed in 2005 by Friends II and in 2007 by a DVD titled Carlo Willems and Girlfriends.


Also in 2007, Willems took part in a very successful tour with actor Hubert Damen and Quatuor d’Amore. Together they performed 85 shows. This collaboration between Willems and Hubert Damen resulted in four new, equally popular productions. In September of 2008, Willems was guest lecturer in Tallinn (Estonia) where he also performed with the ensemble I Solisti del Vento. After 2009, he recorded several other albums of his own (Friends IV & V).


As a percussionist, Willems is frequently asked to perform by several renowned ensembles such as the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. As a teacher, he is tied to LUCA Hogeschool Leuven, AP Hogeschool Antwerpen, and Academie Regio Tienen. www.carlowillems.be


Koen Wilmaers

Koen Wilmaers started his musical career at the age of 7. He studied percussion and piano at Lemmensinstituut in Leuven and completed his Bachelor and Master diploma, both with greatest distinction. As laureate of several competitions, such as Wedstrijd van het Gemeentekrediet and Tenuto Competition, he has taken part in radio and TV recordings.


Wilmaers has played in a number of renowned orchestras and ensembles, such as Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest; Brussels Radio Philharmonic; Symfonieorkest van de Koninklijke Muntschouwburg; Orkest van de Vlaamse Opera; Beethoven Akademie; Nationaal Orkest van België; I Solisti del Vento; Il Novecento; I Fiamminghi; Prometheus Ensemble; Brussels Jazz Orchestra; St.-Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra; and Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra.


From 1993 to 2009, Wilmaers was the solo timpanist of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and he played with many conductors, such Philippe Herreweghe, Jaap Van Zweden, Daniele Callegari, Grant Llewellyn, Muhai Tang, Günter Neuhold, Peter Eötvös, Martyn Brabbins, Michael Schönwandt, Walter Weller, Lothar Zagrosek, Rudolf Barshai, and many other distinguished composers.


Concert tours have taken Wilmaers to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Japan. He has played in many different concert halls, including the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Festspielhaus in Salzburg, Amsterdams Concertgebouw, Suntory Hall and Bunka Kaikan Hall in Tokyo, Philharmonie of Cologne and München, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Auditorio Nacional de Musica in Madrid,  and the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.


As of 2018, Wilmaers is the timpanist of the brand new international orchestra ‘Le Concert Olympique’ led by Jan Caeyers. As part of this orchestra he plays on a regular basis in the Philharmonie of Berlin.


As a soloist, Wilmaers has done several radio and television recordings. He has been working in chamber music with Carlo Willems for many years.


Wilmaers also composes and has written a number of works for percussion. He is also a regular guest at national and international competitions, including the Internationale Ensemble- en Solistenwedstrijd at Kerkrade, and has been invited as a guest professor by the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. www.koenwilmaers.be



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