Distinctive Debuts is supported by endowment gifts from The Lizabeth and Frank Newman Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
István Várdai is a Hungarian cellist who has earned numerous international prizes. He was winner of the 2014 ARD Cello Competition in Munich, recipient of the 2012 Prix Montblanc, winner of the 2008 Geneva International Music Competition, third-prize winner in the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Cello Competition, special-prize recipient at the Kronberg Academy's 2006 Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann, first-prize winner at the International Brahms Competition in 2006, and three-time winner of the David Popper International Cello Competition (2000, 2003, 2004).
Since his debut concert in 1997 in The Hague, Mr. Várdai has performed throughout Asia, Europe, and North America with great success. In 2010, he made his debut at both Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He has also collaborated with world-renowned musicians and orchestras, including Sir András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Zoltán Kocsis, Gidon Kremer, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de chambre de Genève, Irish Chamber Orchestra, and American Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Várdai has been invited to numerous festivals, including Santander (Spain), Gergiev (St. Petersburg), Casals (Spain), Radio France, Bellerive (Switzerland), Schleswig-Holstein (Germany), Verbier (Switzerland), West Cork (Ireland), Schwetzingen (Germany), and Budapest Spring.
Mr. Várdai studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Between 2010 and 2013, he continued his studies at the Kronberg Academy in Germany, where he joined the faculty in 2013. His first CD was released in 2009 on the Nascor label and featured the Elgar Cello Concerto, along with pieces by Janáček and Prokofiev. His most recent recording, Singing Cello, was released on the Hungaroton label in 2015. Mr. Várdai is artistic director of the Kaposfest International Chamber Music Festival in Hungary along with violinist Kristóf Baráti. He plays a Montagnana cello from 1720.
Born in Budapest, Zoltán Fejérvári studied at the Liszt Academy of Music with Dénes Várjon, András Kemenes, and Rita Wagner. Further studies took him to the Queen Sofía College of Music in Madrid, where he studied with Dmitri Bashkirov. He has also participated in master classes given by Ferenc Rados, György Kurtág, and Sir András Schiff.
Mr. Fejérvári has performed widely as an orchestral soloist with notable ensembles, including the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Verbier Festival Orchestra, and Concerto
Budapest under conductors such as Iván Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, and Gábor Takács-Nagy. Mr. Fejérvári is a passionate chamber musician who has collaborated with both the Keller and Kodály quartets, and has worked with Gary Hoffman, Joseph Lin, Christoph Richter, András Keller, Radovan Vlatković, Ivan Monighetti, Frans Helmerson, and Kristóf Baráti. He has also participated in the Kronberg Academy's Chamber Music Connects the
World program, Prussia Cove's Open Chamber Music, and the Marlboro Music Festival.
Mr. Fejérvári was second-prize winner at both the James Mottram and Ricard Viñes international piano competitions. In 2016, he won the highly prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. His recording of Liszt's Malédiction with the Budapest Chamber Symphony was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 2013. His CD of four Mozart violin sonatas with violinist Ernő Kállai was released in 2014 by Hungaroton.
Since 2014, Mr. Fejérvári has taught at the Chamber Music Workshop of the Liszt Academy of Music. Highlights of his 2015-2016 season included a duo recital debut at Carnegie Hall with pianist Kuok-Wai Lio; recitals with cellist István Várdai in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and the US; and a tour with Hungary's MAV Symphony Orchestra under Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi.