“Making one’s own music come to life”

Asya Fateyeva, Saxophonist

“With the saxophone, anything goes! I love the ocean of possibilities.” When it comes to her instrument, Asya Fateyeva sees no limits. She is constantly expanding her repertoire and the network of musicians, with whom she works, performs, and crafts new programmes. “I focus on my aspirations and what I want to explore. To do that, you have to branch out in every direction”, explains the musician who has her roots on the Crimean peninsula and now lives in Hamburg. 


When she started her career as a saxophonist, Asya Fateyeva felt a bit as if her instrument could have been on a list of endangered species. At first, she saw her calling as getting classical saxophone established. But now, she no longer feels she has to, which gives her energy to do other things: Asya Fateyeva is currently working on a wide variety of musical projects


One of many inspiring collaborations led her to embark on this new course. Her work with trumpeter and composer Markus Stockhausen also proved particularly formative. “His way of combining new music with classical music greatly appeals to me”, explains Asya Fateyeva. In the 2018 summer semester, she invited him to her class so her students had the chance to get to know such a passionate musician. “I never experienced anything like that during my own training and yet, it is so important to make sure your own music stays alive.”


Asya Fateyeva also explores different areas in her music. In addition to classical concerts with orchestras and solo recitals, she also tries everything that interests her, especially when it comes to chamber music. Whether it’s an early Baroque programme or Bach’s Goldberg Variations arranged for the violoncello, accordion, and saxophone, music from the 1920s by Erwin Schulhoff and his contemporaries or an encounter between an organ and saxophone–anything is possible. At the same time, Asya Fateyeva takes particular delight in improvising. “For me, this means trusting in my own musical language, which is nourished by all my musical experiences to date.”


“Music is not reserved to one single instrument!”

This has also led her to collaborate with other chamber musicians such as the cellists Eckart Runge and Tanja Tetzlaff, pianist Jacques Ammon, organist Sebastian Küchler-Blessing, the Lautten Compagney, and many others. Asya Fateyeva enjoys learning works originally written for other instruments. An exciting experience in this area was performing Mozart’s clarinet concert with a Baroque orchestra. “Music is not reserved to one single instrument!” Asya Fateyeva laughs when she says this, after all, she knows: “Now, I don't have to convince anyone that with saxophone, anything goes.”


Asya Fateyeva no longer has to prove that to anyone as both her career and CDs speak for themselves. As a result, she has already adopted a number of programmes and, in 2014, became the first woman to reach the final of the renowned international Adolphe-Sax Competition in Belgium, playing her way to 3rd place. Then, in 2016, came the Echo Klassik Award for her debut album–one of many prizes. The basis for Asya Fateyeva’s success is her thorough training under numerous masters of the French school of saxophone. 


Asya Fateyeva was born in Kerch on the Crimean peninsula. She still clearly remembers the taste of salty air when, as a child, she attended music school directly on the coast. Her parents cultivated her love of music from an early age. The daughter of a professional footballer began playing piano at the age of six. “My first piano teacher, Valentina Nikishina, instilled me with a deep love of the arts and showed me the depth of the Russian school”, explains Asya Fateyeva. 

Multicultural work and building bridges

Asya Fateyeva found her way to the saxophone at age 10. At first, it was her father who wanted to the learn the instrument, but she was immediately taken by the warm sound of the saxophone. “I fell in love the first time I heard it and was lucky enough to find an outstanding teacher!” In Simferopol, Lilija Russanowa introduced her to the tradition of the French saxophone school. After only half a year, Asya Fateyeva was performing alongside an orchestra.


Studies under professor Margarita Shaposhnikova at Moscow’s renowned Gnessin Institute and master courses in the French Gap followed. Then, in 2004, Asya Fateyeva came to Germany when her parents and their two daughters relocated to Hamburg. A short time later, Asya Fateyeva moved to Cologne to study as a junior student under Daniel Gauthier. The French Canadian held the first saxophone professorship for classical saxophone. At age 17, the highly gifted student was able to begin her formal saxophone studies at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik. Stays abroad in France to study under Claude Delangle in Paris and Jean-Denis Michat in Lyon, among others, helped to shape her further artistic development. Studies of chamber music at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen and the Hamburg Musikhochschule followed.


Asya Fateyeva sees herself as a musician in touch with multiculturalism, which also reflects in her work. Her playing combines a wide range of schools and influences. Her motto: “You never stop learning as long as you try something new”. In so doing, she has continually developed her international career and has already performed alongside numerous renowned orchestras such as the Wiener Symphoniker, Bochum Symphoniker, the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, and the MDR Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared at prestigious festivals including the “Spannungen” Festival in addition to distinguished concert venues like Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Philharmonie Luxembourg. Since 2014, she has taught classical saxophone–and is currently teaching in the jazz department of Hamburg's Hochschule für Musik und Theater. 


Asya Fateyeva also loves modern and contemporary music. Her goal continues to be inspiring contemporary composers to write for the saxophone. “There needs to be more commissioned work, especially for solo saxophone and orchestras” she finds. Making sure that happens is part of her mission. A mission that has become very multifaceted and promises that there are more surprises to come.


With her innovative programmes and exceptional skill, Asya Fateyeva is making the saxophone a new focus in the world of music. With classical training and multiple awards under her belt, Asya Fateyeva loves to explore a wide range of styles and periods together with musicians from the areas of classical and jazz music.


Born on the Crimean peninsula, Asya Fateyeva dedicates her artistic efforts to a broad repertoire including music from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods in addition to original works for her instrument. At the same time, she continues to expand her repertoire and network of musicians with whom she collaborates, performs and crafts new programmes. In addition  concerti with orchestra and solo recitals, she is also an avid chamber musician. Whether it is an early Baroque programme or Bach’s Goldberg Variations arranged for the violoncello, accordion, and saxophone, music from the 1920s by Erwin Schulhoff and his contemporaries or an encounter between an organ and saxophone – anything is possible. She also has multiple projects featuring jazz and world music. Asya Fateyeva views herself as a musician in touch with multiculturalism, which is also reflected in her work. Her playing combines a wide range of schools and influences. 


The classically-trained saxophonist is among the preeminent representatives of her discipline and she has earned numerous accolades. She became the first woman to reach the finals of the renowned international Adolphe-Sax Competition in Belgium and received the 3rd prize. That same year, the Süddeutsche Zeitung music critic Harald Eggebrecht wrote the following:


“The young Asya Fateyeva plays alto saxophone with such elegance and confidence that the beauty of her exceptional sound in Debussy’s Rhapsodie for Saxophone and Piano is sure to captivate anyone.”


Asya Fateyeva performs with various orchestras such as the MDR Symphony Orchestra under Kristjan Järvi, the Wiener Symphoniker under Vladimir Fedoseyev in Vienna’s Musikverein, the Royal Northern Sinfonia under Lars Vogt, the Moscow Virtuosi under Vladimir Spivakov, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, the Bochumer Symphoniker, the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, Zurich as well as Stuttgart and Württemberg Chamber Orchestras. Further highlights include performances with orchestras from Bonn, Frankfurt/Oder, and Kassel.


Her concerts at festivals such as those in Colmar, Fermo, Lucerne, Cologne, Moscow, Dresden, Saint Petersburg, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, MDR Musiksommer and the “Spannungen” festival have garnered widespread praise.


Her training combines the Russian tradition with the classical school of French saxophone. After two years as a junior student under Professor Daniel Gauthier at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik, Asya Fateyeva, then 17, began formal studies there. Studies in France with Claude Delangle in Paris and Jean-Denis Michat in Lyon, among others, helped shape her artistic development. She completed post-graduate studies in chamber music at Hamburg’s Hochschule für Musik und Theater, where she now teaches classical saxophone.