CHRISTELLE BERTHON (France)
“The Harp Queen”
Christelle Berthon began playing music at age 4 in her home town of Chateauroux in the centre of France. Playing her recorder along with everything on the radio, including pop songs, set the stage for her eclectic repertoire, which now includes everything from Bach concertos to down-home blues. After playing her first gig with renowned French folk band Malicorne, at age 14 Christelle began six years of classical oboe studies, passing the exams for the national schools of Paris and Lyon. At the age of 24, completely by chance, she bought her first harmonica and found that it provided a welcome diversion from four hard years of oboe studies. Almost straight away she fell in love with this instrument.
However, life obliged Christelle to give up playing music for twelve years, until one decisive day in Ireland, in November 2006, knowing that Christelle had once been a musician, a lady offered her a diatonic harmonica. Returning to France, Christelle committed to being the musician that she was meant to be, practicing up to eight hours a day. To share her work with people, she opened her now-renowned YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/christellester) and has gathered more than 71500 subscribers and 31 million views so far. She has been featured at the SPAH Convention and she has won the second place at the World Harmonica Championship 2009.
From the start, she was successful in covering a broad range of genres, Blues, Celtic and Jazz. She has worked a lot at the new technique called overbending which allows one to play the full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica. Christelle currently tours in Europe and has acquired many American fans who are eagerly waiting for her US tour. The brand-new album “Breathe to Me” was released in June 2017.
Christelle Berthon is an official endorser of the Dannecker Harmonicas, ZT Amplifiers and Audix Microphones.
Jerry Portnoy: “Christelle Berthon’s playing is superb in every aspect: wonderful musicianship, technical mastery, but most importantly, a beautiful sound that conveys feeling and emotion.”
Trio "COMMENT ALLEZ-VOUS" (Japan)
COMMENT ALLEZ-VOUS is a Japanese harmonica trio featuring three women.
Formed in 2001 as the first trio playing tremolo harmonicas and founding members are:
Nami Miyata, Reina Oba and Aya Kuroda.
The group was well received at the 10th anniversary concert held in Tokyo in 2012.
All of the group’s songs have an original arrangement and the genres of music range from children’s songs to folk songs, from latin to classical.
The ensemble is famous for their performances with the tremolo harmonica both in and out of the harmonica world.
The released CDs are ‘Comment allez-Vous?’, ‘TAMAGO’ and ‘Christmas Songs with Harmonica’
The name of the band, ‘Comment Allez-Vous’ means ‘How are you’ in French.
Aya Kuroda studied classical piano at Toho College of Music in Tokyo. When she met the great master Akira Sato, she decided to play harmonica. This instrument has become indispensable for her as a means of self-expression through her arrangements and compositions.
Reina Oba focused her musical studies in organ at Tokyo Conservatoire Shobi. She early composed for her second instrument, the harmonica. Today her music is highly appreciated due to creativity and innovation of her arrangements.
In addition to the trio “Comment Allez-Vous ?”, Aya and Reina have formed the Harmonica Duo “Petit Comment Allez-Vous ?”. In 2008 the Duo awarded a First Price at FIH (Federation Internationale de l’harmonica Japan) Harmonica Contest in Japan.
ISMO HAAVISTO (Finland)
Ismo Haavisto is a well-known professional blues musician from Lahti, Finland. He started playing blues as a teenager and his more than 30-year-long blues-career guarantees a great performance. In 2012 Ismo Haavisto represented Finland at the European Blues Challenge in Berlin, Germany. In 2013 he represented Finland at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Ismo has written music for Lahti Big Band, with whom released the album “Fire Breath” and his music is also heard in in Aki Kaurismäki’s movie “The Other Side of Hope”. He has published nine albums during his career, the latest one “The Blues Has Chosen Me” was released in January 2018
Haavisto plays gigs all over Finland and abroad. In 2017 he played with the best Estonian slide guitar player
Andres Roots at Pärnu Harmonica Festival. This year Ismo will perform solo.
One Man Band is Ismo’s greatest ensamble – it works just as well in the living room as at a festival. Haavisto plays guitar, slide, harmonica and of course sings. Stompbox and foot tambourine give a solid beat. This is something unique that must be seen!
NAMI MIYATA (Japan) & YVES PELRAS (France)
Nami Miyata, an accomplished pianist and harmonica virtuoso, is a performer and an accompanist of a rare delicacy. After completing brilliant musical studies in Tokyo, Nami Miyata came to France, where she lives now. She is often invited to many Harmonica Festivals where she accompanies the greatest Harmonica players in Europe as a pianist. In 2003, she created the Harmonica Trio ”Comment allez-vous?”, which is very popular in Japan. In 2006, during a famous major Show Tour in Poland, for the first time she presented herself as a tremolo harmonica virtuoso. Now in France Nami has become popular as a soloist on chromatic harmonica playing, including the highly original pipe organ and harmonica duo, where she will be accompanied by her husband Yves Pelras.
Yves Pelras studied the piano at the music academy of Versailles and also the pipe organ with Frédéric Désenclos in Paris. He is the organist at the Saint-Lubin Church in Rambouillet. The special and highly regarded duo will perform at the Church Concert on Saturday, July 13th at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Pärnu and July 15th at Niguliste Church in Tallinn.