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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Violinist Oles Semchuk back in Kyiv

15 April, 2003 - 00:00

Not so long ago, Kyiv’s music lovers said goodbye, literally with tears in their eyes, to their idol, violinist Oles Semchuk, who reluctantly left for Italy to continue his career. But just six months later Mr. Semchuk again showed up in Kyiv. He, in the company of his pianist partner and friend Anna Seredenko (this instrumental duet is well known both in Ukraine and abroad), singer Liudmyla Voinarovska, and violoncellist Vitaly Borovyk, gave a concert dedicated to the 130th birth anniversary of Sergei Rachmaninoff, organized by the Embassy of Russia to Ukraine (see The Day, No. 12).

“Oles, how long have you been performing in Italy?”

“Since December. Not a long time but enough for me to get used to the environment and the rhythm of working different from that in Ukraine. Now I work much more but get tired much less. I know my schedule precisely. I never hurry, nor do I ever come late. Back in Kyiv, Anna Seredenko and I shouldered the entire burden of organization. In one day alone, we had to rush to various points of the city, deal with all sorts of problems, ask for and get something. So when it was time to give a performance, we often felt exhausted and reluctant to play. Conversely, in Italy I attend to only my own affairs — be it performance or teaching — and am oblivious anything else.”

“Will you tell us more in detail about your work at the Fiesole Music School?” (Immortalized by Boccaccio —Ed.).

“I am assistant in the class of my teacher, prominent music Professor Pavel Vernikov. Besides working in Italy, he also teaches in Finland and makes many tours of Europe. Vernikov stays in Italy for not more than four days a month. So I have to deal with his 18 pupils. There are some interesting musicians, such as the daughter of Oleg Kogan and Natalia Gutman, pianist Natan Milshtein’s granddaughter, and Francesco Cerrato, winner of international contests. There is only one student from Ukraine, Volodymyr Kuzma. I also have my own pupils aged 6 to 7. Throughout a year, I must audition and conduct classes with every school student. So I sometimes have to work even on weekends, but I am duly paid for each overtime hour. It I have no time to have a meal, food is brought in from a restaurant; if I stay late at work and have to take a taxi, the school pays all the expenses.”

“What language do you speak to your students?”

“Italian to the youngest ones, although I find it difficult because Italian grammar is quite complicated. I speak Russian to those from the former Soviet Union and English to most of the others.”

“What is in store for you in the immediate future?”

“In mid-April, our duet is going to give two recitals in a Florence theater as part of the International Festival of Chamber Music. The program will include oeuvres of Ukrainian composers and classical virtuoso pieces for the violin and piano. We have a tight touring schedule for this year and next. Anna Seredenko, who teaches at the National Music Academy of Ukraine, and I try to combine teaching with active touring.”

“And when will we be able to hear you in Kyiv?”

“We are planning to give a concert on May 6 at the Lysenko Hall of Columns. We are preparing a surprise for the Kyiv public.”

Interviewed by Liudmyla KUCHERENKO, special to The Day