top of page

M.A.D. - Music and Dance

M.A.D. - Music and Dance

Malta International Arts Festival 2024

The fifth edition of MAD presents a dance residency connecting international artists with local talent. Vasko Nasonov from Russia and Marisha Bonnici from Malta have been commissioned to work with a selected group of local dancers to create two new choreographies set to the Piano Trio No. 3 by Johanna Doderer  and the 4th movement of Piano Trio No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich. The music will be performed live featuring violinist Julia Smirnova, cellist Konstantin Manaev and pianist Philipp Scheucher.


M.A.D. - Music and Dance - Malta International Arts Festival 2023



Dmitri Shostakovich

Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor Opus 67

I. Andante – Moderato 

II. Allegro con brio

III. Largo 

IV. Allegretto – Adagio 

Ruben Zahra

Catch my Breath


Johanna Doderer

Piano Trio No. 3

I. Allegro con fuoco

II. Moderato

III. Quarter Note = 140

IV. Quarter Note = 60

Programme Notes

Dmitri Shostakovich - Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor Opus 67

Shostakovich composed his second piano trio during the summer of 1944 and dedicated it to the memory of Ivan Sollertinsky, a friend and colleague who had died earlier in the year. He had been director general of the Leningrad Philharmonic where he introduced the music of Mahler, Schoenberg, and Alban Berg. The trio was immediately regarded in the Soviet Union as the composer’s protest against Soviet totalitarianism and its performance was banned from 1948 until shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953. Today Piano Trio No. 2 is considered a masterpiece and one of the most strikingly original musical gestures in the entire chamber music repertoire. This trio would eventually be pressed into service for the composer’s own obsequies. When he died and his body was honored by the public which lined up to pay tribute in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the slow movement of the E minor Piano Trio was one of the works played to accompany the sad proceedings.

Ruben Zahra - Catch my Breath

“Catch my Breath”, for violin, cello and piano, presents three short movements with a strong rhythmic character. The music portrays jagged patterns that progress through fragmentation rather than through organic development. Clusters in the bass enhance the percussive quality, juxtaposed by rhythmic shards in the high register. Melodic passages surface to contrast the rhythmic content, urging the music forward towards a tempestuous finale, as the motifs collide and splinter.

Johanna Doderer - Piano Trio No. 3

The Piano Trio No. 3 was created for the Gustav Mahler years 2010 and 2011 and was commissioned by Harald Kosik. For me, the piano trio is one of the most ideal compositional and chamber music opportunities to produce a sound almost equivalent to that of an orchestra with just a few instruments. In the meantime I am working on my 6th piano trio.


Vasko Nasonov

Vasko’s dance background began with hip hop and house dance, participating in several Russian and international battles, such as Juste Debout Italy, SDK, U-13, and RMT platforms. Since 2016 Vasko has been working with Far for Yo dance company working in a fusion of hip hop techniques and contemporary dance. Later delving into researching contemporary dance through the influences of capoeira, acrobatics and yoga. Training with Eastman, Ultima Vez, DAR, and ImPulsTanz platforms. He is the recipient winner of the 2019 “Impulstanz dance contest”. He has worked with various choreographers as a dancer and forms part of the Kseniya Shlezinger dance Project, a guest dancer with The Moscow State Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, Fomenko workshop theater and other projects all around the world. He has taught internationally at b12 (Germany), ImpulsTanz (Austria), Equilibrio ensemble (Italy), Dance without limits (Czech Republic), OCDP program (Italy), Kezer belle (Hungary), DO festival (Poland), Open look festival. A regular teacher at The Stage dance academy, Eto dance school, guest teacher for Batsheva dance school, Inbal dance Theater, Boris Eifman academy, Avshalom Pollak Dance company, Kolben dance company, Vertigo dance program, Idance ensemble 

Marisha Bonnici

Artistic Director of Seed Dance Studios, Marisha Bonnici, is a graduate from the University of Malta with a Master degree in Performance studies (Dance). She is a full time teacher and practitioner in Classical Ballet, Modern theatre Dance and Spanish Dance. A recipient to a number of teacher and dancer scholarships, Marisha now focuses on working with students who are looking to pursue dance for enjoyment or for further study. A fellow of the Cecchetti society, an affiliated teacher with American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Ballet School affiliation programme. Her passion for education and dance is the driving force for her to continue to pursue her teaching and role as a mentor for many students. Her involvement in the setting up of the Dance branch within the MVPA enabled her to see at first hand the possible parallel lines between Malta’s academic structure and the nurturing of dance students. She regularly enters students for high ranked international competitions such as Youth America Grand Prix. Students under her tutelage have been accepted and invited to train at schools such as Royal Ballet School, Paris Opera, American Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet, Balletschulle Theatre Basel, Princess Grace Monaco, La Scala, Central School of ballet, Elmhurst, The Hammond, KS Dance, Margaret Howard, Tring Performing Arts school, Rosella Hightower, Joffrey New York and Rambert. Her choreographic work has toured to Malta, Italy, England, Czech Republic, America, Spain and Scotland.

Julia Smirnova

Yulia Smirnova was born in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in 1997. ln 2006 she started her studies under Galina Tourchaninova in the Central Moscow School of Music and in 2015 she studied under Alexander Vinnitsky. Afterwards in 2017 she began her studies at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin first under Professor Antje Weithaas and since 2019 - under Professor Stephan Picard. Julia received important musical impulses through international master classes, among others with Thomas Zehetmair, Maxim Vengerov, Michaela Martin, lngolf Turban, Natalia Prischepenko, Grigory Kalinovsky, Yu Yamei, as well as in collaboration with Frans Helmerson and Nabuko lmai. Since 2018 she is а scholarship holder of the association Yehudi Menuhin - "Live Music Now" in Berlin. ln summer 2021 she participated in the master classes of Kronberg Academy with Professor Pavel Vernikov. ln 2021 Julia Smirnova received the DMD Prize as а best foreign student at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin. The prize is awarded for outstanding artistic achievements as well as special social or intercultural commitment. Julia Smirnova plays the violin Ьу Antonio Gragnani made in 1790.

Konstantin Manaev

Photo: Zuzanna Specjal

Konstantin Manaev is an internationally renowned cellist, nominated for the ICMA 2023 (International Classical Music Award) and the Opus Klassik Award 2022. He captivates audiences worldwide and garners critical acclaim for his performances in leading cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, Berlin, Zurich, Vienna, Milan and Tokyo. In 2019 on invitation of Maestro Teodor Currentzis, Konstantin became principal cellist of Currentzis’ ensemble MusicAeterna. Many modern composers have dedicated new works to Konstantin including the well known Austrian composer Johanna Doderer, whose cello concerto he premiered this year. The current season brings the world premiere recording of a double concerto for cello and violin by Australian composer and conductor Gordon Hamilton, concerts with Signum Saxophone Quartet at Alte Oper Frankfurt and at the Stradivari Festival in Cremona, as well as his solo debut with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra. Konstantin Manaev currently performs on a cello by Johannes Theodorus Cuypers, anno 1762.


Philipp Scheucher

Photo: Andrej Grilc

Whether at Vienna’s Musikverein, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, or Berlin’s Konzerthaus, concert pianist Philipp Scheucher is at home on the most prestigious concert stages of Europe and beyond. German WDR Broadcasting Cooperation wrote: “His absolute presence on stage and his clean, attentive sound of his interpretations set new quality standards” - following his first prize win at the International Music Prize in Cologne (Germany).Philipp has concert engagements around the world, having won numerous prizes at international competitions, including his most recent success as the second prize win­ner of the International Beethoven Competition in Vienna/Austria. His solo debut album “Quasi Fantasia” was released in 2019, followed by his double album “Concert Apértif Du Piano” in 2020, and his “Beethoven” album by Naxos in 2022.



M.A.D. - Music and Dance - Malta International Arts Festival 2023

Photos: Matthew Mirabelli



Choreographers - Vasko Nasonov and Marisha Bonnici

Violin - Julia Smirnova

Cello - Konstantin Manaev

Piano - Philip Scheucher

Dancers - Giaia Benedetelli, Simona Rando, Jade Marsden, Mel Sielanczyk, Katharina Willrett

Apprentices - Eliza Fenech, Lea Bitri, Marianna Tsikmanli, Manon Veissiere, Maria Fernanda Losada

In collaboration with Olimpus Music

20 June 2024
Valletta Campus Theatre, Valletta
General Admission - €15
Concession - €10
Audience Level
Minimum Age: 8 years
Other Dates
21 June 8pm
Terms & Conditions
Concessions are applicable to senior citizens (over 60 years), persons with *disability, students (on presentation of student card), European Youth Card holders, and children up to 12 years.

*Persons with disability can send an email to for a complimentary companion ticket (on presentation of a valid disability card - subject to availability).

All prices are inclusive of VAT.

Malta International Arts Festival 2024

M.A.D. - Music and Dance

bottom of page