Player Profiles

String players from Brussels, BE

Meet Vivio 4+1

Femke Sonnen      Yuri Higashida    Robert Yeo    Stephen Meyer    Shagan Grolier

Femke Sonnen


Femke Sonnen is a Belgian-Dutch composer, violinist, concert organisator and playwriter.

In 2019 she obtained a Master in Composition magna cum laude at the AP Hogeschool in Antwerp.
Femke Sonnen studied at the conservatories of Amsterdam and Utrecht. During her studies she was
concertmaster of the La Primavera String Orchestra in Amsterdam and remained this until 1990 when
she was appointed leader of the second violins in the Orchestra of the Flemish Opera (1990-1995).

Since September 1996 she has held this position in the Orchestra of LA MONNAIE/DE MUNT in Brussels.
In 1992 she started to explore performance on authentic instruments of baroque,
classical and romantic repertoire. She was a member of Anima Eterna Bruges (Jos van Immerseel),
Il Fondamento (Paul Dombrecht), B'Rock (René Jacobs), Ex Tempore (Florian Heyerick), Les Agréemens
and Concert Royal, among others. She also played a lot of chamber music on historical instruments,
especially string quartets.

In addition to her work at the Opera, she is intensively involved with organising chamber
music concert series. Since 1993 she has had her own chamber music series (Stapel Concerts) in Ghent.
For five years (2006-2010) she was part of the Ensor String Quartet with whom she a CD recording
"De 7 Laatste Zinnen" with music by J. Haydn in collaboration with Dimitri Verhulst.
Within the framework of LA MONNAIE/DE MUNT, she plays numerous chamber music concerts
(ao with pianists Daniel Blumenthal and Anastasya Terenkova) and is a member of the Rosamunde String Quartet.

In 2016 she founded Oorwenk!, a collective of musicians who create and play their own work.

Femke has a great preference for the theater. She collaborated with actors such as Lucas Van den Eynde,
Josse de Pauw, Hubert Damen, Karel Vingerhoets, Gene Bervoets and Jo Decaluwe.
(Ensor String Quartet & Dimitri Verhulst, Peter and the Wolf, Histoire du Soldat, Tuby de Tuba, Carnival des Animaux,
The Snowman etc.)

She became magna cum laude Master in Music / Master of Arts at LUCA School of Arts / KU Leuven
at the beginning of September 2015.

Her theater productions include "The Living Chair", “Rattekatte” and "INSIDE (OUT)"
(with dancer Roman Van Houtven) and saw many performances.

Yuri Higashida was born in Japan. She started playing the piano at the age of four
and when she was ten she started her violin studies.

She is a laureate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music,
one of the most prestigious art schools in Japan.

She joined the first violin group in the orchestra of LA MONNAIE/DE MUNT in 1987.

She completed her studies in chamber music at the Brussels Conservatory and obtained
the Higher Diploma with great distinction. Yuri also deepened
her knowlegde of baroque violin and worked as a baroque violinist with René Jacobs
in the B’Rock orchestra.

In addition, she has built up a rich and diverse chamber music repertoire and
is primarius of the string quartet "Rideau Rouge".

Yuri Higashida


Stephen Meyer


Belgian-American violinist Stephen Meyer has been assistant principal second violin
of the orchestra of LA MONNAIE/DE MUNT, the federal opera house in the capital of Europe since 2007.

After many years as a classical violinist, Mr. Meyer decided to explore a different kind
of music: tango. In 2016 he graduated cum laude with a Masters of Music in tango violin
from Rotterdam Conservatory (Codarts) in the Netherlands, having studied with Gustavo Beytelmann.

During his time at Codarts, his research on tango techniques in violin performance was awarded
first prize at both the Codarts and Fontys Artistic Research Festivals.
Subsequently, he was awarded a grant from the Friends of Codarts Foundation, for excellence
in musical performance.

Following his education at Codarts, he has performed at tango festivals around the world,
including Tango for Musicians at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (USA),
Tango for Musicians in Dresden (Germany), Tango BA (Buenos Aires, Argentina),
and Tango en Tarbes (France). Mr. Meyer is a member of several tango groups, including Sonico,
Tango Por Tres, and OTRA. In January 2019, Mr. Meyer was named professor of violin
in the tango department of Codarts. In September 2019, Mr. Meyer started a PhD
on the role of the violin in tango at the world-renowned Royal College of Music in London (UK).

Robert Yeo was born in the United States, where he began his studies
on the violin and the piano at the age of 10.

He later attented Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana where
he specialised as a violinist. He frequently went to Spain to follow masterclasses
with his violin teacher Eugen Prokop.

In 1975 he settled in Belgium, where he continued his studies in violin
(with professor Marcel Debot) and chamber music at the Brussels Conservatory,
graduating with first prizes in violin and chamber music.

From 1976 to 1980 Robert was a member of the orchestra of the Royal Ghent Opera (KOG).

He became a member of the orchestra of De Munt / La Monnaie in 1981 where he has been playing since as
a member of the first violins. He also contributes to various ensembles, including
l'Orchestre de Chambre Charlemagne, Casco Phil and the "Rideau Rouge" string quartet.

Robert Yeo


Shagan Grolier


Shagan Grolier discovers the double bass in Catherine Guillemot's class,
at the "Conservatoire de Nîmes", where he obtained his diploma in music studies
for saxophone in the class of Jérome Christophe in 2008.

After this happy discovery, he decides to continue to study contrabass
at the "Conservatoire Régional de Lyon in the
class of Jean-Marie Verne, where he graduated in music studies in 2010.

Shagan studied at the "Haute Ecole de Musique" in Lausannes with
Michel Veillon obtaining a bachelor's degree.
in 2013 a Master I, in the class of Jiri Hudec at the "Academy of Performing Arts"
in Prague; in 2014 and a Master II, in the class of Bo Yuan at
the "Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne", site of Sion.

Parallel to his musical studies, he has gained solid professional experience
in ensembles and orchestras such as: the International Menuhin Soloists Academy
in Switzerland from 2012 to 2013; the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Academy in Prague in 2013;
the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in 2014 and 2015; Macau Symphony Orchestra in China
(tour in Shenzhen in 2017) and the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul
in 2017, to name just the most important.

Shagan Grolier takes part in numerous recordings and creations such as
"A blanc 1" by composer Blaise Ubaldini, in the studios of Radio Suisse in Geneva in 2102 and
"As far as possible" by composer Karen Keyhani
in 2014 to name a few. This piece was created by Shagan in Geneva in 2013.

in 2018 and 2019, Shagan recorded the four suites for double bass solo of
Jacques Vanherenthals in the church of Beert (Vlaams-Brabant) for the label Pavane.

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