The Young Belgian Strings 2019-2020

Double Basses

First Violins

Mireille Kovac - Concertmaster

Born in France in 1991, Mireille Kovac began the violin at the age of 4. In 2011, Mireille began studying at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels in the class of Shirly Laub.

She obtained her Master's degree with Distinction in June 2017. She currently follows a Master's degree in chamber music at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.

Mireille was a member of the Nederlands Jeugd Orkest and the European Union Youth Orchestra. She joined the Young Belgian Strings in 2016 and has been Concertmaster since 2017.

She plays regularly with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Belgian National Orchestra.

Sarah bayens

Sarah Bayens, born in 2000, started playing violin at the age of 5.

She followed lessons with Koen Rens at the 'Kunstacademie' of Turnhout, untill she started her violin studies at the 'Conservatoire Royale de Bruxelles' with Shirly Laub in 2017.

In 2018, she won the 'Young Belgian Talent' competition, and in 2019 she was concertmaster of the new 'Youth Orchestra Flanders'.

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Guillaume Duby

Guillaume Duby was born in 2002.
He studied at the Royal Conservatory of Mons in the class of Daniel Rubinstein.
He has been a member of the Young Belgian Strings since 2018 and is its youngest member.
Despite his young age, he already works regularly with the Namur Chamber Orchestra and the Pro Juventute Orchestra.

Challain Ferret

Born in Toulouse in 1992, Challain Ferret finished his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, in the class of Shirly Laub and Frédéric Ursel.

He obtained his Master interpretation in 2017.

Challain joined the Young Belgian Strings in 2015.

He plays regularly with the Belgian National Orchestra, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Musiq' 3 Festival Orchestra.

Juliette Janssen

Born in 1995, Juliette Janssen continues her studies at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, in the class of Shirly Laub in Master 2.

Juliette joined the Young Belgian Strings in 2014.

She plays regularly with the Belgian National Orchestra, the NJO and the Festival Musiq' 3 Orchestra.

Isabelle Rowland

Born in 1996, Isabelle Rowland graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor from the Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently studying for a Master in interpretation at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, in the class of Philippe Graffin. She is a member of the Nationaal Jeugdorkest, the Asian Youth Orchestra, and has participated in many festivals such as the Resonances Festival in Belgium, the Berlioz Festival, the Pablo Casals Festival and Musique en Ré in France, among others. In 2019, she was selected for the Academy of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. 

Second Violins

Pierre Vopat - Group leader

Pierre Vopat was born in 1995. Since 2013, he has been studying at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels with Shirly Laub and his assistants, Frédéric d'Ursel and Kerstin Hoelen. He had the opportunity to study for a year with Lorenzo Gatto in 2017.
He has been a member of the Young Belgian Strings since 2014, and has had the chance to play several years in a row with the NJO. He also had the opportunity to play with the Wiener Jeunesse Orchester, the Austrian Youth Orchestra, and the Aurora Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm.

Alma Defoort

Alma Defoort was born in December 1999 en grew up in a family of musicians. She started the violin at the age of 4 with her mother, Françoise Vervoort.
Later on, she studied with Igor Tkatchouk, Kerstin Hoelen as a Young Talent at The Hague Royal Conservatory and in private with Mark Blekh.
During the year 2016, Alma studied at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, as a young talent, with Tatiana Samouil.
Alma is now part of Aki Saulière’s class at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.
She has been awarded prizes at several competitions such as the Rotary-Breughel in Brussels, the Iordens Violincompetition in Holland and the UGDA in Luxemburg.

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Alexis Delporte

Born in 1999, Gloria Vancoillie studies at the LUCA School of Arts in the violin class of Elisa Kawaguti.

In September 2017 she joined the Young Belgian Strings.
She was also selected to participate in the projects of the Nationaal Jeugdorkest (NJO) and is the first violin of the LUCA Quartet.

Eva lievens

Eva Lievens was born in a musical home and began playing the violin with her parents as a child. Then she took lessons with Kerstin Hoelen and Qui van Woerdekom. She has been first violinist in various youth orchestras. Several times she has been awarded the Vlamo competition in the category of soloist/violin and chamber music.
In September 2020 she will begin her studies at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels in the class of Shirly Laub.

Ricardo Vieira

Ricardo Vieira was born in 1994 in Sion-Valais, Switzerland. He moved to Portugal at the age of 12, and began his violin studies at ESPROARTE. In 2013, he began his Bachelor's degree at ESART where he worked with Professor Augusto Trindade. In 2017, he was admitted to the Geneva High School of Music in a Master Concert at Patrick Genet. Currently, he works with Professor Yossif Ivanov at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel. He participated in Master classes with many internationally renowned teachers.
In 2011, he won the 2nd prize in the Concurso Capela in Portugal and in July 2018, he won the 3rd prize in the Concurso Internacional Cidade do Fundo - Nevel Superior de Violino. He has already collaborated with various orchestras such as the Orchestra Of The Mediterranean Youth, Orchestra Festival Aurora Chamber Music, Orquestra XXI, Est-gio Gulbenkian para Orquestra, Orquestra Filarm-nica Portuguesa, Orquestra de Câmara Portuguesa and Orquestra Gulbenkian. Ricardo is a substitute musician with the Belgian National Orchestra.


Ana Sophia Sousa -Group Leader

Ana Sofia Sousa, born in 1995, began her studies at the Paços De Brando Academy of Music in Portugal in 2007, in the Alto class of Professor Susana Cordeiro and later with Professor Antonio Pereira, where she finished in 2013.She participated in several Master Classes During her career, she worked with several orchestras. She won prizes at the National Paços Premium Competition, held at the Paços de Brando Music Academy in Portugal.In 2016, she completed her Bachelor of Music at the Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas de Castelo Branco and graduated with distinction with the Master Ofns pedagogy at the Universidade de Aveiro in 2018.
Since the 2018/2019 school year, she has been doing her Master's degree in Performance at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp with Leo De Neve. She has been selected to be a member of the Flanders Youth Orchestra as Head of the Altos.Ana is currently a collaborator of the Orquestra Filarm-nica Portuguesa, Orquestra de Câmara e Sinfica de Cascais e Oeiras, Lisbon Film Orchestra, Orquestra Clàssica de Espinho, Orkestra Frascati Antwerp, Symphony Opera and Vlaanderen.

Irene Leroy

Born in 1990, after studying science, Irene entered the class of Véronique Bogaerts at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels in 2014. At the same time she began studying the viola and entered the class of Vincent Hepp and Vladimir Bukac in 2016. She now holds a master's degree in violin, a bachelor's degree in viola, and a didactic master's degree obtained in 2019 at the Royal Conservatory in Mons. This year she will pursue a master's degree in viola at the Royal Conservatory of Liège in the class of Pierre-Henri Xuereb, and will participate in the orchestraacademy of the ONB and La Monnaie.

Laura Marchetti

Laura Marchetti, born in 1995, obtained in 2017 a Master Didactic 2 violin at the IMEP in the class of Igor Tkachuk and in 2019 a Master Specialized 2 in viola with Great Distinction in the class of Ning Shi. 
Currently, she is preparing a Master's degree at the IMEP (Higher Institute of Music and Education of Namur) in the class of Ning Shi.
Laura gained professional experience with the Perugia Festival Orchestra, the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia, the CAMERAta of IMEP, the Hainaut Picardy Orchestra and the Royal Opera of Wallonia.

Elis rens

Elise Rens, born in 1995, obtained a master's degree in viola at the Royal Conservatory of Liège.
Elise paufine her professional experience with
Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Wallonia, the YOF Orchestra, the Musiq3 Festival Orchestra, the Phoenix Chamber Orchestra, the BAM Orchestra (Brussels, Antwerp and Maastricht), the Sinfonietta Orchestra and the 21st Century Orchestra. She regularly attends Masterclasses with Ives Cortvrint, Sander Geerts, Vincent Hepp, Garth Knox, Amy Norrington, Kathy Sebastian and Philippe Graffin and also Masterclasses of traditional music with Kyriakos Gouventas and Aurélie Dorzée.



Mikko Pablo - Group Leader

Miguel Nicolas “Mikko” Lee Pablo (California, 1992) began playing the cello in the Philippines at age of 15. Three years later, he went to the California State University Fullerton, where he graduated with a Bachelor. Mikko completed a master’s degree with high distinction at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. He was accepted for the Orchestral Academy for the National Orchestra of Belgium and the Théatre Royal de La Monnaie. Mikko is currently principal cellist of Young Belgian Strings. He has participated in several music festivals worldwide, including the 1000 Cellists Festival in Hiroshima, the Philadelphia International Music Festival in Pennsylvania, the Summit Music Festival in New York, the Roundtop International Music Festival in Texas, the Schlern International Music Festival in Bolzano, the Académie Internationale de Musique in Tignes, the Aurora Music Festival in Vänesborg, the Saarburg Music Festival in Saarbrücken, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena and the Schleswig Holstein Music

Sylvain Debray

Sylvain, born in 2003, discovers the cello at the age of 8.
With his teacher, Sophie Pirard, he cultivates his passion.
He is open to all repertories, from Baroque to contemporary and traditional music.
In 2018, he joined the cello class of Marie Hallynck at the Brussels Conservatory.
He studied chamber music and musical notes with Dina Meunier and Jean-Gabriel Raelet at the Liège Conservatory.
He learned piano with Geoffrey Baptiste.
Since he is 12 years old, Sylvain is a member of CIMI, who also offers him the chance to play as a soloist.
He likes to play with his twin sister, Clarinettist, his younger brother, violinist and his father, amateur pianist.

Camille Donze

Camille Donzé started playing cello at the age of 4 with Eric Chardon. She then took classes with many cellists such as Didier Poskin, Marinella Doko, Sarah Dupriez,... Currently, she is studying cello at the Royal Conservatory of Mons in the class of David Cohen. She has also participated in a masterclass given by Maja Bogdanovic.Member since the age of 10 of the Amadeus orchestra, she has traveled to Germany several times to participate in orchestral workshops. She is currently principal cello of the orchestra of the Royal Conservatory of Mons. She has also performed with the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia on several projects.
She has been awarded in various competitions including Breughel competitions and the Edmond Baert International Cello Competition,... She has participated in the festival con brio in Osnabrick as well as the festival "Intensive sounds" in Lessines.

Joachim jamaer

Joachim Jamaer (1997) is currently completing his master's degree in Class at the Koninklijk Conservatory in Brussels. A graduate of Olsi Leka's class at the KCB, he studied Erasmus for a year at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Dusseldorf.
In 2017, Joachim joins the Euregio Jeugdorkest as an attack leader and in 2018 participates in the Academy Of Mint Orchestra, an orchestra in which he plays regularly as a substitute.
 In February 2020, he has the opportunity to perform as a soloist in St. Petersburg with the St. Petersburg Youth Symphony Orchestra. During his studies, Joachim participated in various master classes and received advice from such great musicians as Leonid Gorokhov, Wenn-Sin Yang, Gregor Horsch, Adrian Brendel, Young-Chang Cho, Jeremy Menuhin, Valeriy Sokolov and Ralf Gothuni.


Double Basses

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Matthieu Garnavault -
Group Leader

Matthieu Garnavault, born in 1992, studies at the IMEP in Namur in the class of Alain Denis.

He has been a member of the Young Belgian Strings since 2014 and has been leader of the double basses since 2017.

Matthieu has the opportunity to play in chamber music context and in various orchestras such as the Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia, the Royal Opera of Wallonia, the Antwerpen Camerata, the Frascati Orchestra, the Belgian National Orchestra and the National Orchestra of Algeria.

Benjamin Heymans

Barely nine years old, Benjamin chose the double-bass at the Academy. Aged 14 he resolutely dedicated himself to an education in classical music at the !Kunsthumaniora (Secondary school for Arts) in Antwerp where he graduated summa cum laude under Lode Leire. He continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp with Lode Leire.
Now he is enrolled as a master student at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater ‘Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy`, Leipzig.
As a freelance musician he played with such orchestras as the Brussels Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and Casco Phil.
He attended masterclasses with François Rabbath, Rick Stotijn, Wies de Boevé, Jeff Bradetich, Domenic Seldis, Dorin Marc and David Desimpelaere amongst others.
Momentarely he is member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the Young Belgian Strings.