Christoph Croisé with the CPOWith a German mother, a French father and a Polish great grandfather, plus growing up in Switzerland,  you may think that Christoph Croisé (pictured left), the cellist making his debut with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra on 18 April 2024, is conflicted. Actually not. He’s a true European and he identifies with all his roots, says PETA STEWART: 

“I grew up in the German part of Switzerland and felt very much at home. I’m used to being in the mountains and taking pride in skiing every winter since I was two years old. I also spent many summers in Southern France with my father’s relatives, experiencing the more relaxed southern European/Mediterranean lifestyle. Currently I live in Berlin where I have been for the past 10 years after I moved there to study with Wolfgang-Emanuel Schmidt at the University of the Arts, and now I have roots there too,” says Croisé.

Croisé will perform the Saint-Saȅns Cello Concerto no 1 in A minor under the direction of Martin Panteleev, who returns to Cape Town for two concerts. On the programme on 18 April at the City Hall are Tchaikovsky’s tone poem, Francesca da Rimini and the Symphony No. 5 by Prokofiev.

The cellist is also giving some recitals in Pretoria with pianist Charl du Plessis on 14 April and then at the Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay on 16 April.

He could have played any of the well-known concertos with the CPO but he chose this one by Saint-Saȅns for several reasons: ”It is beautiful, elegant, virtuosic and has everything a cellist can show on stage. On top of that it is very compact. My French side is very happy to have the chance to perform it in Cape Town!”  Then there is what Shostakovich said which he quotes … “Before writing his first cello concerto, the great composer Dmitry Shostakovich analysed all major existing cello concertos and came to the conclusion that the best and most effective one in terms of form is the first concerto written by Saint-Saens.”  So there we have it!

Christoph Croisé with the CPO

Inspired by many genres of music

Croisé, who is inspired by many genres of music from baroque to techno and musicians like Abdullah Ibrahim, was introduced to the violin by his parents and older sister, but did not enjoy standing and asked his mother if there is an instrument where he could sit while playing.  She suggested the cello and/or the piano, so Christoph ended up playing both.

But it was the cello that won his heart and at the age of eight, a year after starting to play the cello, “we had a class concert. It was absolutely stressful and I had to stop three times within a three-minute piece but nevertheless I enjoyed the feeling of being on stage and decided to become a cellist.” That feeling hasn’t changed and he has made his mark across the world. At 17 he performed at Carnegie Hall and today the Tonhalle Zurich, the Konzerthaus Vienna, the Philharmonie Berlin, the Wigmore Hall London, the Residenz Munich, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg are his stamping ground.  Prizes he has won include several firsts at international competitions including the 1st Berliner International Music Competition in 2017, the Manhattan International Music Competition (2016) and the International Johannes Brahms Competition (2015) .

He is a composer as well, having composed several pieces for full symphony orchestra as well as all sorts of chamber music.  He  spends what little time he has left playing chamber music in festivals with musicians such as Dmitri Sitkovetsky, Andrey Baranov and Sergey Ostrovsky, and practising.

Plan to conduct own symphonies

He has two students, and is studying conducting too, “because my plan is to conduct my own symphonies in the future.”  The week after he returns to Europe from Cape Town he will conduct the premiere of his first symphony and will perform chamber music at his own festival in Switzerland.

Christoph is the artistic director of the Niederlenzer Musiktage, a classical and electronic music festival, which has been taking place every May outside Zurich for four years. He has also released several albums, including one of his own compositions; if the City Hall audience is lucky it may persuade him to perform an encore of one of his pieces!

Committed to helping young cellists around the world to develop, he gives masterclasses internationally and he is giving one to the young cellists of the CPYO the day before his concert. Christoph Croisé plays on a rare Italian master cello, crafted in 1680.

What: Christoph Croisé with the CPO

Where and when: Cape Town City Hall on 18 April 2024

Tickets: Webtickets