Duo Aken2 [duːo akə(n) tǔeː]

The cellist Soraya Ansari and the pianist Luis Castellanos met 15 years ago during their music studies at the HfMT Cologne/Aachen. Since then, they have devoted themselves intensively to the large and diverse repertoire for violoncello and piano and have successfully performed in chamber music series at home and abroad. It is very important to the two musicians to make ‘classical music’ accessible to the widest possible audience – which is why they moderate their concerts in an entertaining way and regularly perform as part of ‘Music for ALL’ in places for people who have little access to classical music.

During the corona pandemic, the duo received scholarships through the German Music Council and GVL as part of NEUSTART KULTUR for the realization of video recordings – the two musicians created their own podcasts for the works and their composers (see

In 2016, they were accepted into the Werner Richard – Dr. Carl Dörken Foundation as scholarship holders due to ‘their electrifying performance’ and ‘their unconditional, excessive expressiveness’.

The unusual ensemble name ‘Duo Aken2’ [duːo akə(n) tǔeː] goes back to 2012, when the duo was assigned the designation ‘Aken2’ – Aken for the hometown Aachen and the number 2 for the number of ensemble members – by the organizer during their participation in the Euregional Chamber Music Festival Maastricht in the Netherlands. The two musicians decided to continue the Dutch pragmatic name as their duo name.

Soraya Ansari

The cellist Soraya Ansari is a prizewinner of numerous competitions – including the Lions Music Competition, the Cello Competition of the HfMT Cologne and the concert series ‘Accordate’. Concerts have taken her as a soloist and chamber musician to several European countries as well as to Colombia.

Together with the pianist Luis Castellanos (Duo Aken2), she has devoted herself intensively to the repertoire for violoncello and piano since her studies – and they are strongly committed to making the works accessible to everyone. (

Since 2022, Soraya Ansari has been working at the Theater Rosenfisch together with the puppeteer Stephan Wunsch in the play ‘Birds on Strings’. (

In 2020, her arrangement of the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra op. 129 by Robert Schumann in the version for violoncello solo and cello quartet was published by the music publisher Hauke Hack. (Further information as well as order via

In addition to her passion for chamber music, Soraya Ansari is keen to pass on her experience to young musicians. She has given master classes at the Summer Music Tour of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Hong Kong and at the Conservatorio del Tolima in Ibagué (Colombia).

Soraya Ansari has German-Iranian roots and comes from Freiburg (Germany). At the age of eight she wanted to learn the violin, but there was no free place for this at the music school and the secretary recommended the cello to her: ‚This is the same, just a little bigger‘. So she began her first cello lessons with Christian Schirmer and later continued this with Dita Lammerse. After graduating from high school in 2008, Soraya Ansari studied with Prof. Hans-Christian Schweiker at the HfMT Cologne/Aachen and completed her cello studies there in 2016 with top marks. She collected further musical inspiration at master classes with Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Miklós Perényi, Jens Peter Maintz, Troels Svane, Conradin Brotbek, Joachim Hess, Christoph Henkel, Daniel Müller-Schott, Arto Noras and Wolfgang Böttcher.

As a scholarship holder, she was supported twice by the Werner Richard – Dr. Carl Dörken Foundation, the Old Table 58 Aachen and the German-French Society Freiburg.

Soraya Ansari plays a cello by Urs W. Mächler from 2012.

Luis Castellanos

The Colombian pianist Luis Castellanos is the first prize winner of the Chopin Competition in Colombia and has been a sought-after soloist and chamber musician ever since. As a representative of his home country, he has performed in numerous countries – including the music festival South America! in the Berlin Konzerthaus, the Festival die Due Mondi in Spoleto (Italy), the Colombian Embassy in Brussels and as a soloist with orchestra at the 8th International Piano Festival in Ibagué (Colombia).

Together with the cellist Soraya Ansari he performs in the duo founded in 2008 ( With their project ‘Music for ALL’ they are committed to making ‘classical music’ accessible to a wide audience.

Luis Andres Castellanos Jimenez was born in Bogotá (Colombia) and wanted to learn clarinet at the age of eleven, as his father was a clarinetist and saxophonist in the Lucho-Bermudez-Orchestra for decades. At the conservatory, however, it was said that his hands were too small for the clarinet, he should first learn violin, piano or tuba. He then decided to play the piano, studied as a junior student at the Bogotá State Conservatory and celebrated his first competition successes. At the age of 18, Luis Castellanos came to Germany to study with Prof. Ilja Scheps at the HfMT Cologne/Aachen. This was followed by a further degree in orchestral conducting. He received important musical impulses from Prof. Alan Weiss, Prof. Mirabela Dina, Prof. Janusz Olejniczak, Prof. Hans-Christian Schweiker and Maestro Jorge Luis Prats, among others.

He was supported with scholarships by the Werner Richard – Dr. Carl Dörken Foundation and as a junior student at the Bogotá State Conservatory.