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Virtuoso parade

Vladimir Spivakov, as well as adult and young musicians from Ukraine and Russia showed how a bridge of friendship can be built between the two countries.
15 December, 00:00

The National Philharmonic Society hosted the concert “One World of Creativity,” starring young talented musicians from Ukraine and Russia, and the famous chamber orchestra Moscow Virtuosi conducted by Vladimir Spivakov. The organizers from Kirill Dmitriev’s Social Initiatives Foundation stressed that this project had nothing whatsoever to do with politics — although many politicians, businesspeople, scientists, and cultural figures were invited — and that their main objective was to acquaint the Kyiv public with gifted children (the nine little stars were fortunate enough to perform with one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras, Moscow Virtuosi).

Four young Ukrainians made their debut on stage with Spivakov conducting the orchestra. Spivakov later admitted that the children chose the repertoire and he and the orchestra helped them make the most of the compositions and show their talent. The rehearsal schedule was very tight because Spivakov’s own schedule was made until 2013 and finding time was a problem. Whereas he knew the Russian performers well (they are all on Spivakov’s charitable foundation’s scholarship and had performed with Moscow Virtuosi and the National Symphony Orchestra of Russia, the pianist Vladislav Khairutdinov, singer Anastasia Tsarapenko (both Kharkiv), violinist Bohdan Shalyha (Kyiv), and saxophonist Yurii Broshel (Kerch) had their master class with the celebrated musicians for the first time that evening. All the children performed well, although they’d had only two rehearsals with the orchestra.

Spivakov told journalists before the concert: “Music makes people better; it purifies their souls. All these children are talented, and it is our task as adults to help them reveal their capabilities. After the USSR fell apart, I realized that elders and children would suffer in the first place, as the most vulnerable categories. It was necessary to help them, so I organized a charitable foundation to try to preserve our culture. I’m not a businessman, even less so an oligarch, but I can’t stand aside when there are talented children out there [in need of help]. Some need good instruments to study music, while others have health or financial problems. I’m convinced that gifted children must be assisted in every way and that’s what I’m trying to do. I watch the progress of our scholarship students or those who happened to get involved with the foundation. Let me mention several names: Asia Fateieva from Simferopol — she received a sax as a present, and this nine-year-old girl has conquered Japan, winning the highest award, the Golden Saxophone. Oleksandr Havryliuk from Kharkiv has recorded five concert programs of Prokofiev’s works with Icelandic musicians conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazi. The young Oleksandr Romanovsky brilliantly performed during an international festival in Spain with the Pope in the audience. Our foundation helped with his medical treatment; the boy had problems with his legs because of a malignant tumor, and he couldn’t press the [organ] pedals. I consider Oleksandr to be my godson. I’m proud to have been able to help Ihor Chetuiev, a talented boy from Sevastopol, financially (he comes from a low-income family). Now he has a top-quality concert piano, although because of the red-tape in the customs offices I had to address the governments of two countries on television. Here is the result: in three years this gifted pianist won the Grand Prix of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Israel. I’m saying this because I feel proud of these boys. I intend to keep helping such children as best I can. Before long some of them will become music stars and make this art famous in their countries; others may take up professions that have nothing to do with the arts, but I’m convinced that music, literature, painting, or dancing will remain in their hearts. I see this as my main goal. Culture must be above politics. Our current political leaders, who are vested with supreme power, appear to forget that politics and peoples are different values. Our countries are neighbors and, despite excesses on the part of certain politicians, we will do our best to live in peace and friendship. This concert will demonstrate how a cultural bridge can actually be built between Ukraine and Russia.”

Khairutdinov, 10, the youngest pianist from the Kharkiv school of music (he studies under the able guidance of Prof. Svitlana Zakharova), had the honor of opening the concert with his number. This boy is the winner of many festivals and competitions. He chose a sophisticated repertoire: the second and third movements of Haydn’s Concerto in D flat, and played like a true virtuoso.

The first part of the concert ended with Anastasia Tsarapenko, 11. The girl appeared too nervous performing the folk songs Oi, to ne vecher and Ros’ as her vocal rendition was not faultless, but the audience received her warmly. However, she was relaxed in front of TV cameras, saying the right things about how happy she felt performing with the celebrated musicians. She illustrated practically every television and radio interview with a vocal number. Incidentally, Anastasia is the only one of the children who was interviewed live (by Savik Shuster for the Ukraine Channel). The girl admitted she wasn’t sure about her future profession. She is studying music, was fond of singing, but she also likes solving mathematical problems and doing equestrian sports. She might become a TV hostess; she isn’t camera-shy, and many viewers remember her from the show Dancing for You.

It should be noted that all the young stars did their best during the concert, but only two were encored: the saxophonist Yurii Broshel from Kerch (currently enrolled in Kyiv’s Lysenko College of Music) and the oboist Sergei Finoyedov from Moscow (Gnessin State Music College student on Spivakov’s foundation scholarship). Yurii offered a virtuoso rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Sergei was encored twice and did a great job with Rossini’s Variations for Oboe C-dur and Hora Stacatto, and finally a concerto fantasia of Bellini’s Norma with the clarinetist Mikhail Mering (student at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music).

The orchestra was encored and did Piazzolla’s Libertango. The audience responded with a standing ovation. Spivakov had this to say in conclusion: “We performed on this stage back in the horrible year 1986 when the Chornobyl disaster happened; they called it disaster, but later we all found out that it was actually a man-caused catastrophe whose consequences our grand- and great grandchildren will have to endure. I remember people trying to talk our orchestra out of performing in Kyiv, but we made up our mind to support you at that time of ordeal with our concert tour. When we walked out on stage, the audience greeted us with a standing ovation. Many were crying.

“Later, we visited the capital with charitable concerts, but we performed at the National Opera. Now, 13 years later, Moscow Virtuosi are once again on this splendid stage. We were glad to notice smiling faces in the audience. Life goes on! The children who performed tonight are our future, and this is wonderful!”

Viktor Chernomyrdin, former Russian ambassador and now an advisor to the President of Russia, flew to Kyiv specifically to attend the concert. He admitted it was the first time he listened to Moscow Virtuosi in an audience, rather than on the television, for on all previous occasions there was always something that prevented him from attending their concerts: “I heard them on the radio, watched them on the television, but never attended their concerts. Now is a good chance to fill in this gap,” he said before the concert.

When he first arrived in Kyiv eight years ago, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, Chernomyrdin made it clear he wasn’t a theatergoer or music buff, but he became both while in Kyiv. Moreover, he started taking care of a number of performing groups, helping make arrangements for concert tours by noted Russian companies, among them the Bolshoi Theater, Mariinsky Theater, Sovremennik, etc.

Chernomyrdin told The Day: “After I started working in Kyiv, I was dumbfounded to learn that our leading performing groups and drama companies hadn’t set foot on Ukrainian soil for decades, although Kyiv audience is generally known to be the most exacting one, and so I decided to fill in this cultural gap. I started inviting [Russian] performers to Kyiv and was glad to see that every tour by a leading Russian performing group/drama company was a great success. I will continue to help along these lines. I decided to fly to Kyiv this time. This soiree proved a very special, exciting experience. For the young talents, it was a great deal of responsibility, a very important test. I am very grateful to Vladimir Spivakov for searching out gifted children and letting us enjoy their talent. True, we’re living in difficult times when lots of creative and cultural projects are closed because of the crisis. Today saying no and explaining it by the crisis is easy. However, the crisis has taken place, so now we have to look for a way out of this dead-end alley. Having lived and worked in Ukraine for a number of years, I’m alarmed by what is happening here, but I feel sure that any hardships can be overcome. You’ll have your presidential elections soon. You’ll vote for the candidate you think is best as the next head of state. In Russia and Ukraine we have to think about the future, about the people; we have to try to make their life better, so this is where we are combining our efforts!”

Says Olena Franchuk, president, ANTYSNID [ANTI-AIDS] Charitable Foundation: “It was an excellent project. It’s so good of Kirill Dmitriev the businessman to gladden the heart of the public with several blissful hours when young gifted children for the first time performed with the world-famous orchestra conducted by the celebrated Vladimir Spivakov. I watched the way he presented every soloist, the way he worried about his/her rendition, and how the orchestra helped the children reveal their talent on stage and calm their anxiety. It was great!

“We are happy to know that other businesspeople, philanthropists, and sponsors are now starting to follow our example of acquainting the Ukrainian public with the best performers. Together with the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation, we have arranged concerts for Moscow Virtuosi and Spivakov in Ukraine for a number of years. Needless to say, there is no jealousy on our part about Spivakov visiting this time on Kirill Dmitriev’s invitation.

“We are glad to know that this concert acquainted the Kyiv public with talented Ukrainian and Russian children. The National Philharmonic Society’s concert hall in Kyiv has the best acoustic characteristics. I’m sure the children who performed this time, to Moscow Virtuosi’s accompaniment, will remember the experience for the rest of their lives. Too bad the concert wasn’t taped for television. It should be watched and heard by far larger audiences.”

Says Lesia Oliinyk, art critic, secretary of the board, National Composers’ Union of Ukraine: “Too bad we have few programs of this kind. Such soirees should be held more frequently. Perhaps it’s worth setting up a joint Ukrainian-Russian educational program. We have enough achievements to be proud of. During this concert the Kharkiv and Kyiv music school students showed an excellent performance. Take my word: there are lots of gifted children at every secondary music school in Ukraine. The trouble is that they are known by few.

“We are going to spend a weekend in Kamianka that will host an open Peter Tchaikovsky Children’s Competition, with contestants from regional and village music schools. The regional nomination allows students of music schools named after Tchaikovsky to compete, so every year this competition attracts contestants from Tchaikovsky’s homeland, particularly from Votkinsk, a small town in present-day Udmurtia (Russia). The main award is a permission to touch the keys of the classical composer’s grand piano.

“It’s good to know that Spivakov’s charitable foundation is taking care of gifted children in the CIS countries. I feel sure, however, that the maestro knows little, if anything at all, about the talented children in Ukraine’s provinces. The important thing is not only to spot a gifted child and help him/her reveal his/her talent but also keep this talent growing, prevent it from disappearing and maybe reappearing somewhere outside Ukraine.

“I returned from London recently, where I was amazed to see many posters featuring Kyiv musician Serhii Polunin. Back home I realized that we know practically nothing about this rising star. Or take Andrii Drahan with his blitz conquest of Swiss audiences. And to think that these people are our gifted fellow Ukrainians! We must create conditions in which such cultural personalities would not disappear from Ukraine’s cultural horizon. Let them boost Ukraine’s image with their talent abroad, but let them also share it with their fellow countrymen here.

“We can be proud of Ukraine as a lasting nursery of talented artists. It’s good to know that we have philanthropists and sponsors, but our state must also take measures to support culture and arts. This is a painstaking task, which requires organizational efforts in schools, especially at the early stages when children’s talents are beginning to bud, and they should be continued in art colleges, academies, and conservatoires. For example, the Vienna Opera is taking care of schoolchildren, on the assumption that, several years from now, these children will be part of its audiences. They are sparing little effort to carry out special programs aimed at raising these children as true music buffs. We should adopt this experience.”

 

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