Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Classical Music And The World: How Many Classical Music Connoisseurs Know About The Requiem An Eleven Year-Old Wrote For The Children Of Beslan?

"The Fifth International Piano Festival beginning in St. Petersburg on Tuesday will present the first performance of the first piano concerto written by Alex Prior, a 13-year old singer and composer from the U.K. of Russian descent and a great-great-grandson of Konstantin Stanislavsky.

Prior’s musicianship and operatic voice have earned the musical prodigy nicknames such as “the little Mozart” and “the little Pavarotti.”

“Music is my life. Good music is energy and I am, as a composer, giving it to the audience,” Prior said at a news conference in St. Petersburg on Monday ahead of the piano festival.

The first piano concertos by composers of different centuries will be performed on Thursday, the last day of the festival. Prior’s work, the “Petersburg” concerto, will represent the 21st century alongside Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 from the 19th century and Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.1 from the 20th Century.

The works will be performed by the philharmonic orchestra of the St. Petersburg State Academic Cappella, and soloists Nikolai Mazhara, Andrei Ivanovich, and Yekaterina Murina. The concert is conducted by Alexander Chernushenko.

Prior began composing music when he was eight and entered the London’s Royal College of Music a year later.

Following the Beslan terror attack two years ago, Prior — then just 11 — composed a requiem to the children who died.

“Prior’s compositions are the serious and powerful music of a mature musician,” Vladimir Logutenko, director of the festival, said on Monday.

“They are full of non-childish passions and emotions. Although he is very young, he is a very good student and a real Renaissance man. He has already absorbed all the best of Russian culture.”

Prior enjoys listening to Russian church and folk music, elements of which he used in his first piano concert.

The prodigy has also recently composed his first ballet, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” ...

“While creating music the composers use their hearts and brains — music is the heart of life, and every note is its pulse,” Prior said. “A true musician completely enjoys his or her profession, and they are not musicians if it is just a job for them.” ...

The three-day piano festival, dedicated to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart and to Dmitry Shostakovich, whose centenary is celebrated this year, is held in St. Petersburg with the support of UNESCO.

Each day of the festival has a different program that combines the performance of classical concerts with modern classical compositions.

The festival’s opening concert on Tuesday will present the concerts by Mozart and Shostakovich along with a composition by [Shostakovich's] student Galina Ustvolskaya." ...

Yelena Andreyeva "Prodigy Unveils Piano Concerto" St Petersburg Times, September 5, 2006


Living Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (born 1919), whom Shostakovich thought his most talented "student", has witnessed the world even though she has rarely left her apartment and music studio in Petersburg, Russia; the city of her birth.

Photo credit: www.classical-composers.org. With thanks.


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