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  • Writer's pictureHelsingin Kamariorkesteri

Introducing: The Akhtamar Quartet and Laura Martin

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Akhtamar Quartet

Akhtamar, an Armenian legend. The name of the quartet is based on the Armenian Miniatures by Komitas/Aslamazyan, which the ensemble has played regularly since its foundation, and which became its signature. Formed in Brussels in 2014, the ensemble was one of the six quartets selected for the “tremplins jeunes quatuors” of Paris' Philharmonie in 2016 and in the same year won the second prize in the Musiq'3 festival. The Akhtamar Quartet performs in prestigious concert halls and festivals all around Europe: Radio France Festival in Montpellier, the Concertgebouw in Bruges (Be), the MonteLeón Festival (Sp), as well as venues in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Baltic States... and of course in Armenia.

In 2020, the quartet released its first CD: “légende arménienne”. The label Cypres Records produced the recording of Komitas' miniatures and “un quatuor arménien” by Eugenie Alecian, dedicated to the Akhtamar Quartet. Regularly broadcast on national radios (Musiq'3, France Musique, SWR2 in Germany…), légende arménienne has been rewarded with four stars by the prestigious BBC Music Magazine, and is one of the five nominees in the classical music category of the Octaves de la Musique 2021.

The Akhtamar Quartet is very keen on working with contemporary composers. Several composers such as Roger Boutry, Eugénie Alécian, Jan Kuijken and Judith Adler de Oliveira have asked the musicians to create and record their works. The quartet attaches great importance to bringing classical music everywhere and to everyone. They have several sets which they perform in establishments like schools, hospitals, homes and psychiatric institutes. The ensemble is part of ProQuartet and the ECMA. It also has the privilege of attending courses at the Joseph Haydn Institut at the University of Music in Vienna.

The Akhtamar Quartet is supported by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, the Concertgebouw Bruges, Le Dimore del Quartetto, Karine Arabian Paris and the Boghossian Foundation.

Laura Martin

Laura Martin is a very versatile musician. In addition to her passion for the classical music repertoire, she always had a strong interest in art in general and likes to experiment and see how they can interact and enrich each other to deliver a specific message. She likes to think of herself as a multi-faceted artist, on one side the classical cellist, and on the other side the artist working with different art forms and reflecting on society. From concert-exhibitions to improvised performances with dancers, Laura’s latest performance mixing different art fields was “The Taste of Remembrance”, as part of the Helsinki Butoh Festival in November 2020.

Martin is one of the rare musicians to have built her own instrument. She was then 17, and this cello became her musical partner for several years. This unforgettable process opened to her the universe of sound-making from its deepest origin.

Originally from Paris, Martin did her Bachelor studies in Belgium at the Brussels’ Royal Conservatory, in the class of Marie Hallynck, and then graduated from her Master at the Sibelius Academy in 2018 where she studied with Martti Rousi. She has then been asked to be Cello Assistant in the class of Martti Rousi.

Martin has participated in various projects and masterclasses including the Festival Pablo Casals, the Villecroze Academy, the Cello Biennale of Amsterdam (2016), the 9th Osaka chamber music competition, and the Creative Dialogue IX with the composer Kaija Saariaho and the cellist Anssi Karttunen.

Laura Martin has also collaborated with artists such as violinist Mihaela Martin, pianists Kyoko Ashimoto, Martti Rautio, Valeria Resjan, Irina Zahharenkova, and soprano coloratura Piia Komsi.

In the summer of 2018, she was invited to be a Professional Performance Artist at the Boston Music Institute’s 12 Hour Masterclasses with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and participated in the music festival of Santander in Spain.

More recently, in February 2019 she created with Martti Rousi, the first-ever International Cello Festival in Finland.

Based in Helsinki, Laura is the principal cellist of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra and regularly works with various orchestras such as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Orchestra, the Finnish National Opera and Ballet and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, in addition to her activity as a chamber musician.

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