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Avigail Bushakevitz, Ernst-Martin Schmidt and Constance Ricard founded the Franz Trio in 2017, shortly after playing their first concert together in France with works of Franz Schubert and of Gideon Klein. These two composers have continued to be of great importance to them: they named their ensemble after Schubert and have explored the classical viennese repertoire but also take an ever-growing interest in the Theresienstadt composers such as Schulhoff, Klein and Krasa, as well as Jewish composers of the twentieth century. Their shared interest in literature, history and languages have allowed them to build a very personal trio language and they have spent the last few years getting to know the work of lesser known composers such as Jean Cras and Dick Kattenburg. Having a total of 6 young children between them, they have so far mostly concentrated their concert activity in and around Berlin, with concerts at the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Deutsches Historische Museum, at the Berlin Philharmonic lunch concert series and at the Leo-Baeck award ceremony. In the upcoming season, they will give concerts all over Germany and are currently planning a tour of South Africa for 2024.

Born in Israel, Avigail Bushakevitz grew up in South Africa and now lives in Berlin with her husband and their three young children. She has lived in Cape Town, New York and Tel Aviv, graduating from the Juilliard School of Music where she studied with Sylvia Rosenberg before she moved to Israel to learn Hebrew and study with Hagai Shaham at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. Whilst at the Juilliard, she was also employed as teaching assistant in Ear training, a position she held for three years.


Avigail has won numerous competitions and was named “Young Artist of the Year” in 2016 for producing exceptional work in the field of music in South Africa. In Israel she was awarded first prize in the national Israeli UNO competition in Jerusalem.


As a soloist, Avigail has performed concerti by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruch with orchestras in South Africa, Israel and Germany. Her love of baroque music and instruments has led her to play Bach and Locatelli concerti with baroque ensembles such as the Cape Town Baroque Orchestra. A passionate chamber musician, she is a member of the Franz Trio, which she founded in 2017 with her husband Ernst-Martin Schmidt and cellist Constance Ricard.  For as long as she can remember, she has also played with her brother, pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz. Together, they have toured Europe and South-Africa, have won a competition in Spain and recorded a CD of Mozart’s Violin and Piano Sonatas. 

As an orchestral musician, Avigail has played as concertmaster at the Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms in London under Sir Mark Elder, and in Israel under Zubin Mehta. As a member of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra she has toured Spain and Abu Dhabi under Daniel Barenboim. Since 2015, Avigail has been a member of the Konzerthaus Orchestra in Berlin.

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Ernst-Martin Schmidt was born in Berlin and has lived there ever since, except for the year in which he walked from his home town to Santiago de Compostela, crossing Europe on foot.


As a child, Ernst began playing the violin but finally chose viola at the age of 16. After graduating from the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, where he studied under Professors G. Riedel and W. Küssner, he became a member of the Karajan-Akademie with the Berliner Philharmoniker and shortly afterwards joined the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. 


An avid chamber musician, Ernst has toured Europe, Japan, Brazil and South Africa with various ensembles. Having developed a special interest in the string trio repertoire, he founded the Franz Trio in 2017 with his wife Avigail Bushakevitz and cellist Constance Ricard.

He is an occasional guest with all the Berlin orchestras as well as with the Berliner Barock-Solisten and the Zafraan Ensemble. He is also a member of the Konzerthaus Kammerorchester, which he founded with colleagues from his orchestra in 2010. 

Constance Ricard grew up in Bordeaux and now lives in Berlin with her husband and their three young children. When she was 15, the discovery of the string quartet convinced her to become a professional cellist and chamber music has remained the core of her artistic activity. In 2017, with the Franz Trio, she began performing the repertoire for string trios, and has since given concerts all over Germany with Avigail Bushakevitz and Ernst-Martin Schmidt. She is also one of the founding members of a group devoted to exploring the repertoire of eighteenth and nineteenth century chamber music on period instruments, the Ensemble Tamuz, which gives concerts all over Europe. She is a regular guest with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and other ensembles of historical performance practice.


Constance studied the cello with Marc Coppey in Paris and later with Peter Bruns in Leipzig. She went on to study baroque cello with Balázs Máté and Jan Freiheit, graduating from the Universität der Künste in Berlin. For the last ten years, she has worked regularly with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. She is an occasional guest with the Geneva Camerata and the Zafraan Ensemble. In 2016 she played the premiere of Hermann Keller's hour-long solo piece for a speaking cellist “Ihr sollt die Wahrheit erben,” which she has since performed several times, in particular in 2019 for the German radio in Cologne during the Forum Neuer Musik festival.


A dedicated teacher, Constance has private students in Berlin and coaches amateur musicians for orchestra projects several  times a year.

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