Registration for the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2020 ended on 13 July. The jury, chaired by Marta Casals Istomin and made up of such internationally renowned cellists as Henri DemarquetteClaudio BohórquezGustav RivinusArnau Tomàs (winner of the Pablo Casals Scholarship in 1991) and also Bernard Meillat, artistic advisor of the Pau Casals Foundation and jury secretary, has deliberated and chosen ten finalists.

The Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists has for the first time been opened to contestants from around the world and applications have been received from cellists with a very high artistic and technical level. The ten young cello students chosen are aged up to 22 years old and come from countries such as Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Austria, China, the USA, Serbia and Spain, thereby reaffirming the commitment of the Pau Casals Foundation to support young cellists and its desire to disseminate the artistic and human legacy of Pau Casals throughout the world.

The Award has also increased its number of prizes for the 2020 edition and also its financial endowment. The finalists are therefore competing for a First Prize of €18,000, an AENA Special Prize of €12,000 and a Third Prize of €6,000. The Pau Casals Foundation will also offer artistic promotion and professional advice to the winners.

In light of the health situation because of COVID-19, the Pau Casals Foundation has decided not to conduct the final audition in person in El Vendrell (Tarragona), the city where Pau Casals was born. Instead, the 10 finalists will have to send two videos for the final with the works required in the rules of the 2020 call. The jury members will view the videos of each finalist and deliberations will take place in a videoconference call on 20 November 2020, the date on which the winning candidates will be announced.

Finalists of the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2020


Felix Brunnenkant (Germany)
Student at Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium (Austria)
Born in Überlingen, Germany, in 2001, he is studying cello at the Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium, Austria, under Professor Mathias Johansen and has performed Elgar’s Concerto with the Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium Orchestra and at the Saint-Saëns Concertoin Tonhalle in Düsseldorf and Graf-Zeppellin-Haus. He won the first prize in cello at the Jugend musiziert competition in Germany in 2019.


Raffaella Cardaropoli (Italy)
Student at Barenboim-Said Akademie (Berlin)
Born in Mercato San Severino, Italy, in 1999, she started playing the cello at the age of seven. She has performed in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Malta, Austria and Spain, among other countries, and has won several competitions, such as the Abbado Prize, Antonio Janigro Cello Competition, as well as auditions at the Santa Cecilia Academy. She is currently studying at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin under Professor Frans Helmerson.


Jeremias Flied(Austria)
Student at Universität Mozarteum Salzburg (Austria)
Born in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1999, he is studying at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria, under Professor Clemens Hagen. He has performed in various chamber music concerts and has also been a soloist with the Zagreb Orchestra and Carinthian Symphony Orchestra, among others. He won the Liezen International Cello Competition in 2012 and the Svirél in Slovenia and Antonio Janigro Cello Competition in Croatia in 2014.


Miquel Keenan Fuentes Bock (USA)
Student at Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu (Spain)
Born in Holland, USA, in 1999, he is currently studying at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona under Professor Amparo Lacruz. He had previously studied at the Meadowmount School of Music and has performed with the Interlochen Orchestra, as well as at the Lincoln Centre’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse and Hope College Annual Concerto-Aria Competition.


Benjamin Kruithof (Luxembourg)
Student at Universität der Künste Berlin (Germany)
Born in Moestroff, Luxembourg, in 1999, he began studying cello at the age of five and performed his first concert with the Northern Youth Orchestra of Luxembourg at the age of 12. He has won several competitions, such as the Knopf Competition, Leopold Bellan International Competition in Paris and Gabrielli Competition in Berlin. He has performed in various countries and attended such masterclasses as the Cello Meisterkurse at the Kronberg Academy. He is currently studying at the Universität der Künste in Berlin under Jens-Peter Maintz.


Petar Pejčić (Serbia)
Student at HMT Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Germany)
Born in Leskovac, Serbia, in 2002, he started playing the cello at the age of four and gave his first concert in Belgrade at the age of nine. He won his first competition in 2008 and has since won various other international competitions, including third prize in the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Berlin and second prize in the Anna Kull International Competition in Graz. He has given solo concerts and also performed with such orchestras as the Belgrade Chamber Orchestra and Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is currently studying at the HMT Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig under Peter Bruns.


Joseph Pritchard (UK)
Student at Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” (Germany)
Born in Frome, UK, in 1999, he is studying at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler under Professor Nicolas Altsaedt. He has won several competitions, such as the Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Competition, and has participated in several masterclasses across Europe. He has performed regularly as a soloist at Menuhin Hall, among others, and was a member of the UK’s National Youth Orchestra.


Till Schuler (Germany)
Student at Hochschule für Musik und Theather Hamburg (Germany)
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2000, he is currently studying at the Hochschule für Musik und Theather Hamburg under Professor Sebastian Klinger. He has won several international competitions, including the Antonio Janigro Junior International Cello Competition in 2020, and has been a soloist in orchestras and chamber ensembles and next year will be a soloist with the Neue Philarmonie München.


Tzu-Shao Chao (Taiwan)
Student at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Germany)
Born in Changhua, Taiwan, in 2001, he began playing the cello at the age of four and has participated in several competitions in Asia and Europe, including the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. He has been studying at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln in Germany under Professor Maria Kliegel since 2018 and has participated in several masterclasses with renowned cellists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Reiner Ginzel and Marion Feldmann.


Xuanhan Xu (China)
Student at Hochschule für Musik Saar (Germany)
Born in Hangzhou, China, in 2004, she began playing the piano at the age of five and the cello at the age of eight. She continued her studies in Germany at the age of 13 and is currently studying there at the Hochschule für Musik Saar in Saarbrücken under Gustav Rivinius. She performed with the National Centre of Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing in 2017, becoming the youngest cellist to perform at that venue, and has performed with other international orchestras in both Asia and Europe.