Gifted siblings on the path to international stardom

Mari and Håkon Samuelsen are way ahead of schedule on their path to international stardom. Come and hear the siblings when they perform in Carnegie Hall on June 5.

Mari Samuelsen (photo: Thomas Wideberg)

Mari and Håkon Samuelsen are way ahead of schedule on their path to international stardom. The 19-year-old violinist Mari and her 23-year-old, cello-playing brother have let music play center stage in their lives since they both were toddlers. Today, their unique skills both together and separately are in high demand, not only in their native Norway but also abroad.

A great honour

Says Mari Samuelsen (20): “To perform at Carnegie Hall is something every musician hopes to do at some point. To be able the play there at a young age is a dream come true.”

Brother Håkon agrees: "A great honour," says the accomplished 23 year-old cellist.

Not many Norwegians are granted an opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall. It's therefore something of a sensation that violinist Mari and cellist Håkon are bound for the famous music hall in New York.

"Mari and Håkon are two exceptional musicians," says Michael Rossman, who is behind the concert as part of the American Association for Development of the Gifted and Talented (AADGT). The annual concert is held as an opportunity for young talents to perform on one of the world's most famous stages. AADGT, a non-profit organization, has since its foundation in 1993 helped more than 30 young artists on their way.

Says Rossman: "We're proud to be able to invite them."

Formidable performers – formidable instruments

Thankfully, the siblings have the instruments to go with their formidable skills. Mari plays a fine Lorenzo Storioni violin from 1790, on loan from the Norwegian institution Snefonn. Håkon plays a fine Francesco Ruggieri cello from 1688, on loan from the Sveaas Foundation in Oslo.

Skills and instruments are two parts of the troika that enable the duo to perform at such a high level. The third part, the tuition, is also top-notch. Mari received classes from famed Norwegian violinist Arve Tellefsen for ten years from the age of four. She is now the pupil of legendary Russian professor Zachar Bron. Håkon, whose skills on the cello were recognized at a very early stage, now receives the exclusive tutoring of Swedish master cellist Frans Helmerson.

The siblings have performed as soloists with an impressive and ever-increasing group of acclaimed musicians and orchestras. The year 2005 will add new venues and collaborators to that list. Highlights include a special concert featuring the siblings at Carnegie Hall in New York in June, Håkon’s recital at the Radio France Festival in July and Mari’s performances with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in October.

Radio performance

The concert at Carnegie Hall is not the only opportunity for American audiences to experience the Norwegian siblings. On Saturday, May 28 the two will perform in front of an audience of 7,000 at the Wolf Trap outside Washington, DC as part of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion." It is estimated that around 4 million people listen to the show each week.

Mari and Håkon will also be performing at the Norwegian Seamen's Mission in New York and at a private venue on Long Island during their trip to the United States.

The two-week tour is one of the highlights of a very busy summer season for the two musicians. In July, both siblings will perform at the highly prestigious Radio France Festival. They will also perform at the Verbier Academy in Switzerland. The two will also perform several times in their native Norway, with concerts in places like Kristiansand, Stavern, Bergen and Hadeland.

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