Duo CAYAS was founded in 2009 by saxophonist Jacob Shapiro and pianist Camilla Köhnken, both students at Mannes College of Music in New York at the time. Soon after they started performing in America, Israel, Germany, and Switzerland, including unconventional venues like Tel Aviv’s “The Left Bank” club. Their repertoire consists of original pieces for saxophone and piano as well as many transcriptions, some of which were realized for the first time by the duo, like Schumann’s violin sonata in a-minor. In doing so, CAYAS pursues their goal of bringing a new perspective to well-known masterpieces of traditional instruments such as the violin, or the oboe, among others with the saxophone’s unique voice, and is working on a broad understanding of the many different musical styles. To that end they participate not only in materclasses with renowned saxophonists like Arno Bornkamp, Daniel Gauthier and Jean-Yves Fourmeau but also with experts of chamber music in general like the great Hungarian pianist and teacher Ferenc Rados or Baroque specialists like the oboist Omar Zoboli. The duo is also active in larger chamber music projects, for example in Anton Webern’s Quartet op. 22 or Gabriel Faure’s piano trio op. 120.
Camilla Köhnken was born in Bonn, Germany and was admitted to Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s piano class at the Music Conservatory of Cologne at the age of 15. She continued her studies with Lev Natochenny in Frankfurt where she completed her Artistic Diploma in 2008 with excellence. She attended numerous masterclasses like the Verbier Academy in Switzerland in 2003 and 2006 with Dmitri Bashkirov, Claude Frank and Menahem Pressler or the International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria where she worked with Robert Levin. In 2006 she won the Lenzewski Competition in Frankfurt. During the years 2008-10 she studied with Jerome Rose in the Professional Studies program at the Mannes College of Music, New York, supported by scholarships from Bernhard-Scheuble-Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service. Since September 2010 she is living in Basel, Switzerland.
Born in Jerusalem, Israel Jacob Shapiro started studying classical Saxophone at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in 2006 with Gan Lev. At the same time, he was also studying at the Hebrew University for a bachelor of science in physics and psychology, which he earned in 2007. In the same year he went to study with Allen Won at the Mannes College of Music in New York until 2010. Since then until 2012 he’d been studying with Marcus Weiss at the Music Conservatory of Basel, Switzerland. He participated in masterclasses like Laubach, Germany, Gap, France with Claude Delangle, Arno Bornkamp, Vincent David, the Swiss Saxophone Days 2011 in Luzern with Jean-Marie Londeix, Pierre Stephane Meuge. He possesses a special interest in historically informed Baroque practice, which was furthered by viola da gamba specialist Martha McGaughey in New York.