1 million to the artistic development of Nordic talents

Again, this year, the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation awards DKK 100,000 to 10 talents. The Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s award aims to contribute to the continued artistic development of the young Nordic generation of musicians.

Every year, the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation supports the next generation of composers, conductors, musicians, and singers from or associated with the Nordic countries. This year is no exception, and today 10 young talents receive the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s Talent Prize.

In addition to the recognition from one of Denmark’s most established music foundations, the talents also receive an amount of DKK 100,000 in the form of a scholarship for the further development of their individual talent. This year, however, the recipients are not just individual talents, as the talent award also goes to a quartet and a quintet.

Chairman of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation, Esben Tange, explains the motivation for awarding the talent prize:

“It is with great pleasure that this year we not only support the development of a number of very exciting young soloists, but also two ensembles. Playing chamber music at a high level is an art form in itself, and today in Denmark, we have several elite chamber music ensembles who already started playing together during their conservatory study time. By awarding talent awards to two ensembles, we hope to support and inspire young musicians to prioritise chamber music.”

The foundation’s Board of Directors awards the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s Talent Prizes.

The 10 talent laureates are:

Ruben Høegh, piano

Ruben Høegh was born in 1996 in York to Danish parents. He grew up in Aarhus, and with his mother as his teacher, he started playing the piano at the age of eight. In 2020, he received a bachelor’s degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Music, where he will finish his master’s degree in 2023. Ruben has previously performed as a soloist with both the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra and the Odense Symphony Orchestra. Ruben will use the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize for expenses related to the master’s program Contemporary Performance at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

Anna Sofia Bennike, oboe

Anna Sofie Bennike was born in 1998 in Copenhagen. She first started playing the oboe at 16, but quickly showed talent, and she was admitted to MGK two years later and after another two years at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Since then, she has been accepted into one of Europe’s leading oboe classes in Leipzig, played with most of the major symphony orchestras in Denmark, and received several central scholarships. Anna will spend the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize on solo lessons, teaching in carving oboe reed and masterclasses in Norway and Switzerland. In addition, the grant will also be used to purchase machines for use in oboe reed manufacture and purchase a new instrument.

Absalon String Quartet

Absalon String Quartet was formed in 2020 and consists of violinist Thera Maya Brask Ortved (2000), violinist Andreas Peter Lienhøft Larsen (1999), violist Alva Maria Linnea Rasmussen (1998, Sweden) and cellist Olga Chwaszczewska (1996, Poland). Absalon String Quartet has won both the Rued Langgaard Competition 2021 and this year’s P2 Chamber Music Competition. In addition, the quartet has played concerts at Bornholm Music Festival, Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Kammarmusik i Vintertid, Series of Four (Conservatory’s Concert Hall), Østerbro Concert Society and Tivoli Concert Hall. The money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize, Absalon String Quartet will spend on masterclasses and competitions abroad, as well as coaching in stage performances.

Vindtro Blæserkvintet

Vindtro Blæserkvintet was launched in the spring of 2020 as a cosy project during the first Corona lockdown. The quintet then continued at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, where they all studied with Max Artved as supervisor. Vindtro Blæserkvintet consists of flautist Kristin Ýr Jónsdóttir (1996, Iceland), clarinettist Kamilla Bentzen (2002, Norway), hornist Julie Norén Solevad (1998) and bassoonist Harald Tørning Svendsen. The quintet are winners of the “Nordic Wind Chamber Music Competition” 2021 in Oslo. The money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize will be used by Vindtro for continued development as a wind quintet, with masterclasses, coaching, courses, and private lessons with some of the world’s foremost chamber musicians.

Kristian Riisager, piano

Kristian Riisager was born in 1996 and grew up in Ulstrup in Favrskov Municipality. Kristian has played piano since the age of seven. In 2020, he received a bachelor’s degree from the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, after which he began his master’s degree at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. He has participated in and won awards at several national and international competitions and played many concerts at home and abroad. Back in 2021, he won the first Rued Langgaard Competition in 2021 together with soprano Louise McClelland Jacobsen. Kristian will use the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize to develop through courses and masterclasses abroad, as well as on expenses for competitions and producing video material for PR.

Radu Ratoi, accordion

Radu Ratoi was born in 1996 in Moldova but lives in Copenhagen today. He started playing the accordion when he was six and won his first competition at nine. Radu completed his bachelor’s studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen in 2021. He has been attending the master’s programme at the same place since 2022. Radu has won more than 30 international competitions and played concerts worldwide, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the DR Concert Hall, Victoria Concert Hall in London, and Tivoli Concert Hall. Radu will use the money from the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize on study trips to Norway, Germany, Spain, and Japan, among others.

Michael Germer, violin

Michael Germer was born in Vanløse in 2002. He has been playing the violin since the age of three and started getting teaching at the age of five. Michael studied at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv and later in Vienna and at the soloist class at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen with Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider. He was awarded the Gladsaxe Music Prize 2023, the P2 Talent Prize 2022, and the 1st prize at the Danish String Competition. In 2019, he was the youngest semifinalist in the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition. Michael will use the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize to travel with his teacher Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider when he is abroad to be still able to get lessons from him.

Louise McClelland, soprano

Louise McClelland Jacobsen was born in 1997 in Copenhagen and has a Danish/New Zealand background. After MGK, she was educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, the Opera Academy in Copenhagen, and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg. In addition, Louise has been a soloist with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Jönköbings Sinfonietta, Ensemble Storstrøm, Sankt Annæ Symphony Orchestra and Concerto Copenhagen. Back in 2021, she won the first Rued Langgaard Competition together with pianist Kristian Riisager. The money included in the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize will be used on study trips in Scandinavia, Vienna, and Germany.

Kristina Thede Johansen, saxophone

Kristina Thede Johansen was born in the Faroe Islands in 1994. In 2012 she moved to Kolding, and in 2014 she was admitted to the Royal Academy of Music, where she has a bachelor’s degree and from where she made her debut as a soloist in 2023. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in music performance & Arts Management from Sibelius Academy in Finland. Kristina is a member of the chamber ensembles Nordic Saxophone Collective, Ensemble Eiradís, EKA and Ensemble Sirius and has performed as a soloist with, among others The Faroese Symphony Orchestra, Randers Chamber Orchestra and Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. Kristina will use the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Prize to participate in the World Saxophone Congress, a masterclass and on a new instrument.

Kasper Grøn, percussion

Kasper Grøn was born in Aalborg in 1991. At the age of nine, he started playing drums at Aalborg Garden, and in 2016 he received a bachelor’s degree in percussion from the Conservatory of Music of Southern Denmark. He has also studied at Johan Bridger at Sundsgården’s music line in Helsingborg, Sweden. Kasper has also written an opera together with soprano Anne-Sofie Møller Olesen. The opera was based on the first corona lockdown and premiered at the Funen Opera in 2023 after several cancellations due to the pandemic. Kasper will use the money that comes with the Léonie Sonning Talent Award to acquire a glockenspiel, a drum kit, and new cymbals.




Kasper Grøn


Kristina Thede Johansen


Louise Mcclelland Jacobsen


Michael Germer


Radu Ratoi


Kristian Riisager


Absalon String Quartet


Anna Sofia Bennike


Ruben Høgh

More information

Kristina Sindberg
Senior advisor
Mobil 24860184