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„Muzika yacu, Ubuzima bwacu“

[proverb from Rwanda]

Marie-Elisabeth Helmchen

"Hecker plays like an angel ... the beauty of her sound is enhanced by an exquisitely elegant line and sweeping lyricism. There is absolutely no artifice to mislead the audience; her performance comprises musicality and pure talent." (by Javier Pérez Senz, El Pais, 06/2008)Cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker made her international breakthrough with her sensational success at the 8th Rostropovich Competition in Paris in 2005, where she became the first contestant in the event’s history to win the first prize as well as two special prizes. Since then Hecker has become one of the most sought-after soloists and chamber musicians of her generation, recognised for her deep expression and natural affinity for the cello, with Die Zeit describing her playing as "heartbreakingly sad and instinctively beautiful".

Born in Robert Schumann’s hometown Zwickau in 1987, Hecker started playing the cello at the age of five and attended the Robert Schumann Conservatory, before the distinguished German cellist Peter Bruns became her principal teacher. She continued her studies with Heinrich Schiff and subsequently took part in masterclasses with eminent figures such as Anner Bylsma, Bernard Greenhouse, Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman and Steven Isserlis. Early recognition came when she won Germany’s important Jugend musiziert competition at the age of twelve, followed by the special prize at the 2001 Dotzauer Competition and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2009. She is supported by the Kronberg Academy.

Highlights of her career to date include performances with Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Belgian National Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Spanish National Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin and Wiener Symphoniker. annover, Hannover,She collaborated with conductors such as Barenboim, Gergiev, Harding, Hengelbrock, Herreweghe, Janowski, Luisi, Nagano, Saraste, Thielemann and von Dohnányi.

As a passionate chamber musician, she has appeared in duo with her husband Martin Helmchen and in different constellations with partners such as Veronika Eberle, Antoine Tamestit, Stephen Waarts at venues including Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Aspen, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, L’Auditori Barcelona, Berliner Philharmonie, Bozar Brussels, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Schubertiade in Hohenems, Wigmore Hall London, Lucerne, Carnegie Hall New York, Louvre Paris, Toppan Hall Tokio, Vienna Konzerthaus and Tonhalle Zurich.

Highlights of season 19/20 include trio concerts with Martin Helmchen and Antje Weithaas as well as her debut with the Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin. Furthermore, she will perform chamber music with Julian Prégardien, Christian Tetzlaff and Carolin Widmann amongst others.

In May 2016 the label Alpha Classics released Marie’s recording of Brahms' cello sonatas together with Martin Helmchen to great critical acclaim. Recently, her second CD containing Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata and Trio No. 2 (together with Martin Helmchen and Antje Weithaas) has been released by the same label as well as a CD with Elgar's Cello Concerto (together with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra) and the Piano Quintet.

Marie-Elisabeth Hecker was appointed a professor at Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden in August 2017. In co-operation with Music Road Rwanda she regularly travels to Rwanda in order to support a local music school with concerts and educational projects.


In Rwanda, there has been no classical chamber music concert culture until now. Through the Goethe-Institut in Kigali, we have performed two public concerts during past visits, which were enthusiastically received. One was held at the Serena Hotel and the other at the Theater Hall of the Goethe-Institut. Further concerts are also planned for the upcoming future.

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