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Project Ensemble

The versatility of the piano in its ability to both contrast with other instruments and blend with them, has inspired composers to write some of their most breathtaking and engaging scores by combining the sounds of the piano and another instrument.

Ave Kruup's experience as a chamber musician has allowed her to form close partnerships with other talented, young players who share her passion and enthusiasm for chamber music.

The Ave & Friends project aims to explore this vast and fascinating repertoire, with the collaboration of these exceptional musicians. Besides Ave, the group currently consists of three other musicians: Heli Ernits (oboe), Alessandra Russo (flute) and Marike Kruup (violin).


Ave Kruup & Heli Ernits

piano and oboe

Estonian Oboist Heli Ernits and Ave Kruup started their collaboration during their studies in Karlsruhe in 2009. Besides playing the classical repertoire, their common love of Estonian music and their desire to share it with the audiences led to their project of performing the complete repertoire of Estonian music for oboe and piano over a series of recitals.

The first series took place in the summer of 2012, with a programme including composers such as Heino Eller, Villem Kapp, Eino Tamberg, Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kõrvits and Urmas Sisask. The next instalment is expected in 2014, with composers such as Ester Mägi, Lauri Jõeleht, Erkki−Sven Tüür, Raimond Lätte, Hans Hindpere, as well as the world premiere of a new work by Urmas Sisask especially composed for the duo.


About Heli Ernits

Heli Ernits started her studies of oboe in 1999 at the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu, Estonia, having previously played the flute. Between 2003 and 2010 she studied with Olev Ainomäe and Nils Rõõmussaar at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn, graduating with a Bachelor then a Masters degree. From 2006 to 2009 she was in Thomas Indermühle's class at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe, from which she holds a Bachelors degree.

She has successfully taken part in many competitions: she won the 1st prize at the IVth International Competition “Jūrmala 2008”, 2nd prize at the Competition for Estonian Wind Instrumentalists in 2008 and 2012, the Special Prize of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra at the competition for young Estonian soloists “Con Brio” in 2010 and the Yamaha Scholarship Competition in 2012.

Heli is a member of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra since 2009, and is involved in numerous solo and chamber music projects, including the Estica Woodwind Quartet.

Visit Heli Ernits's website



Ave Kruup & Alessandra Russo

piano and flute

Flutist Alessandra Russo and Ave Kruup met in 2005 whilst they were both studying in Mannheim, Germany. Over the next three years they won the 1st Prize at the IXth  “Jean Françaix” International Music Competition, as well as reaching the semi-finalists at the XVth Jeunesses Musicales competition in Bucharest and the Vth “Domenico Cimarosa” International Competition in Italy.

They have since performed regularly in concert halls around Europe, such as the “Rosengarten” Hall in Mannheim (Germany), “Estonia” Hall in Tallinn (Estonia) and “Auditorium Lingotto” in Turin (Italy). Their repertoire includes most of the existing works for flute and piano.


Russo was convincing here with highly demanding runs, whilst Kruup impressed the audience with an impressive dynamic range.Südhessen Morgen − April 2012


This duo has a great deal of potential − as well as the necessary craftsmanship at their instruments, they are musically very sensitive and very much in tune with each other, which results in interpretations which are powerful and full of life.Kalle Randalu − June 2010


The key to a succesful duo is a good match between the players and an understanding of each other's musical intentions. Alessandra Russo is an expressive musician whose endeavors are completed by Ave Kruup's deep and clear playing. They blended into one and the ensemble playing was enjoyable. The concert allowed the audience to experience playing of very high standard and tasteful music-making.Muusika Magazine − December 2008



About Alessandra Russo

Born in Turin in 1980, Alessandra Russo studied with Jean−Michel Tanguy at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannheim, where she graduated witha Bachelor of Music and a Soloist Diploma with the highest results. She spent the following three years perfecting herself with Jacques Zoon at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève, and received the Soloist Diploma with Distinction. Besides the above-mentioned competitions, she has won numerous prizes and awards, inlcuding 5th Prize at the VIIth Kobe International Flute Competition in Japan, 1st Prize at the Musikhochschule Mannheim Flute Competition in Germany and several scholarships from the CRT Foundation in Italy and the DAAD in Germany.

Alessandra's experience as an orchestral player is vast, having performed in prestigious orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Orchestra Mozart, Bologna (Italy), NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz and SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern (Germany), and under such distinguished conductors as Claudio Abbado, Kristjan Järvi and Christoph Von Dohnányi. She has been guest Principal Flute with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (UK), the Teatro Regio Torino (Italy), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway), Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra (Finland), Staatstheater Kassel (Germany), and was most recently Princial Flute of the Noord Nederlands Orkest in Gröningen (Netherlands).


Ave & Marike Kruup

piano and violin

The Kruup Violin & Piano Duo played together for the first time in the spring of 2013, as part of the 5th Heino Eller International Violin Competition, where sisters Marike and Ave Kruup were respectively awarded a Finalists Diploma and a Diploma for “Best Accompanist”. Encouraged by the positive critiques surrounding their performances, they decided to continue their collaboration.


About Marike Kruup

Born in Tallinn in 1992, Marike Kruup has studied with Mari Tampere-Bezrodny since 2006, initially at Tallinn Music High School and, since 2011, at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. She has played in masterclasses with violinists Pavel Berman, Seppo Tukiainen, Michael Vaiman, Itzhak Rashkovsky and Ivry Gitlis.

Since a young age, Marike Kruup's talent has been recognised in numerous international competitions. Aged 10 she won her first international competition with a 1st Prize at the International “Young Musician” Violin Competition in Tallinn. This was followed by 1st Prizes at the “ESTA” Violin Competition in 2005 and 2007, and a Finalist's Diploma in 2006 at the 48th Kocian International Competition for Young Violonists in Usti nad Orlici (Czech Republic). Aged 17, she was a Laureate at the National Strings Competition in Tartu (Estonia), and the following year she received a scholarhip from the Estonian National Culture Fund. Aged 20, she won the 1st Prize and Grand Prix at the “Renaissance” International Violin Competition in Gyumri (Armenia), followed the same year by a 1st Prize and Special Prize at the XXIst “Gianluca Campochiaro” International Violin Competition in Catania (Italy).

At the age of 13, Marike Kruup toured the Netherlands and Finland performing violin concertos by Bach and Vivaldi. The following year she performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 with Pärnu City Symphony Orchestra. Since then she has regularly been invited as a soloist by conductors such as Toomas Vavilov, Mikk Murdvee and Jüri-Ruut Kangur, as well as orchestras such as the Haapsalu Chamber Orchestra, EMTA Chamber Orchestra, TMKK Symphony Orchestra and NMKO Symphony Orchestra, giving performances in Germany, Italy, Finland and Estonia. She has also played in the main Estonian Symphony and Chamber orchestras, and under such distinguished conductors as Neeme Järvi and Kristjan Järvi.

Since 2013, Marike Kruup has joined Krzysztof Smietana's class at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.