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Sophie Steiner 

Artistic Director of the Shirabe Festival 

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is an Austrian harpist and artistic director. She started her musical education at the age of 4 years and was awarded first prizes in national and international competitions. She won her first audition for entering an orchestra at the age of 14 and can now look back on a variety of productions with orchestras such as the “Hamburg Symphony Orchestra“, the “Lübecker Kammerphilharmonie“, or the “Hessischer Rundfunk Orchestra“.


Besides her interests in solo, orchestral, and chamber music, she also promotes the development of new concert concepts and performances and was therefore awarded the Masefield Prize 2015. Since then she has been constantly working on new performance designs and productions and initiated several projects in Europe and Asia. She performed, amongst others, for the Austrian embassies in Spain, Japan, and Norway and founded the project BreakingBorders, which aims to overcome cultural, social, and personal borders through music. She collaborates with ensembles and orchestras and designs new concert concepts to overcome the wall between musicians and audience. Among others she was the artistic director and harpist for the project "SoundColours" in cooperation with the Kammerphilharmonie Lübeck - creating an artistic space where music becomes visual art and cultures merge into one. Sophie Steiner was a student of Xavier de Maistre, Mari Kimura, and Isabelle Perrin. In addition, she participated in several masterclasses with musical authorities such as Catherine Michel (France), Isabelle Moretti (France), Margit Anna Sü.-Schellenberger (Germany), Aneleen Laenarts (Belgium), Sylvain Blassel (France), Judy Loman (Canada), Nancy Allen (USA) or Ernestine Stoop (Netherlands), to broaden her artistic


She is member of the the ensemble "Trobar e Cantar" which specializes in old music and whose CD “DE:FINE AMOUR" was nominated for the International Classical Music Award (ICMA) 2019. Since 2016, Sophie has been working with composers to expand the harp's repertoire. For example, "Lamento d' Orfeo" by Fredrick Schwenk, "Intermezzo" by Niklas Anczykowski, or "Der Frühling" by Tony Uhm were composed for her. In 2022 she performed the world premiere of Kobayashi Akira's Harp Concerto No. 5 with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.

She founded the Shirabe festival to enhance intercultural understanding, respect, and exchange worldwide through art and continues her work as an artistic director and harpist on an international stage. In 2022 she was prize winner of the Maria Ladenburger competition for her arrangement of Bach’s chaconne in d minor and featured through the WDR radio station as well as 1st prize winner of the Caneres international music competition and 1st prize winner of the London Classical Music competition. In 2023 she was silver medalist of the International Music Competition Vienna (all instruments) in the categories Virtuoso and Contemporary.


Artistic Director of AllegroPonte 

Andreas Sønning

is a professor at the Norwegian Academy of music (1987-) and a visiting professor at several universities in Norway and across Europe. Since 2010 he has been part of the building and running of several EU-funded networks for renewing higher music education and implementing innovation and entrepreneurial projects on a transversal basis. Sønning has also toured as a flute soloist and chamber musician and worked as an artistic director throughout the last 30 years in a. o. Scandinavia, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, France, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovakia, and the USA – often premiering new works for the instrument.


He has undertaken projects in over 28 countries with performing organisations such as the Kennedy Center and National Gallery, Washington DC, Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille (France), Le Grande Salle, Hôtel des Invalides Paris, Le Phare, Tournefeuille, Artistic director partnering Pierre Bleuse for the MusikAToulouse festival, France, The Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the New Japan Symphony Orchestra. Since 1994 he has been the artistic director for his own production company, Sønning Music Performance, SMP. With his company, he has been in charge of building festivals in Norway and France and developed cultural programs for international cultural institutions, Norwegian authorities and multinational companies like Telenor, Nordea, Total E&P Norway, and Hydro. With a concept called "The Integrated Model," he has, with his long-term private sector partner Telenor (1994-), received several prizes as European Award for partnerships in Arts and Business, Brussels 2004 and the Award for Equal partnerships, Arts & Business Oslo 2009. Sønning is a Member of the Agder Academy of Sciences and letters.

Sønning' s approach to teaching and learning supports the students in developing new ideas and production concepts through the artistic development of the program composition, including rehearsals and performance practices. Where possible, the musical productions connect to real entrepreneurial practice for the students, including establishing value chains (diversified competence teams) and value systems (including income sources such as funds and paying customers/audiences.) Sønning draws on real cases from personal and professional experience to illustrate possibilities and challenges related to artistic development, planning processes, project management and interdisciplinary teamwork. His presentations also nurture and identify key research issues for further understanding and development regarding education for entrepreneurship in music. Sønning is the author of the academic textbook: 'Creative Concert Production and Entrepreneurship: Concert Dramaturgy and Project Development for the Performing Arts, Routledge NY, 2023, In Press.

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