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5 Questions for Stanislav Khristenko

November 21st 2013

Since Stanislav Khristenko won First Prize at the 2013 Competition, we have received many inquiries from orchestras and presenters around the U.S. who wish to engage him for an upcoming season.  Venues that have presented CIPC winners for years, as well as those that are new, recognize Stanislav’s engaging personality and mastery at the keyboard.  He will be very busy for the next three years!

In January, CIPC Executive Director Pierre van der Westhuizen and Artist Manager Della Homenik will introduce Stanislav at the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York.  This important networking event is a must for building contacts and securing future engagements.

In the meantime, we caught up with Stanislav to see how his big win at the CIPC has affected his life and his career.

1.  We remember reading that you felt winning the Competition was a wonderful new beginning for you.  Please elaborate.

It has been three months since my final round performance with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall and now it is completely clear to me that winning the Cleveland International Piano Competition totally changed my life. Concert engagements that are being offered to me as the winner of the competition are vitally important for my artistic growth. Every performance is a huge professional boost and these next three years will be a valuable time for my further improvement.  This prize didn’t only bring me lots of happiness and excitement but more importantly hope and inspiration.

There are many people who think that piano competitions these days are just factories “producing competition winners.” The competitions that discovered the names of Emil Gilels, Van Cliburn, Murray Perahia, Mitsuko Uchida, and Mikhail Pletnev, among many others, were the ones who brought those pianists their first important engagements.  It was more than a prize – these engagements resulted in their further professional and career achievements and put them on the top of the field.  Unlike most competitions of our time, the Cleveland Competition really starts performance careers of its winners, which sets it apart from any music competition of the 21st century. And my goal for the next three years is to prove that the Cleveland International Piano Competition is producing “musicians” rather than just  “competition winners.”

Stanislav Khristenko2.  What are you doing to make sure the next three years have as much of an impact as possible on your career?

It is very important for me to be able to offer concert presenters a variety of repertoire. For example, some orchestras prefer to have particular piano concertos, some concert series are interested in works of particular composers or genres, some presenters would like to have chamber music as part of the performance. I am trying to make sure that my choice of repertoire interests the audience and the level of preparation is the best possible. I think this is the most important.

3.  Are you learning any special new works now that you will be concertizing so extensively?

I am currently trying to rethink my way of putting together a recital program. There are several repertoire directions that I am planning to explore.  First, I have always been interested in the work and careers of expatriate composers – those individuals who for one reason or another left their home country. Famous examples include Frédéric Chopin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Béla Bartók, the last two of whom spent considerable time in the U.S.  Many composers, like Arnold Schoenberg, fled to this country from the Nazis.  Some, like Alexander von Zemlinsky, were not able to successfully establish themselves in their adopted country. Ernst Krenek (my second CD of his works is planned to be recorded next March) was an example of a prolific composer’s stay in this country. Works of these composers will be included in one of my new programs.

My other interest is Russian music that was originally written for the ballet but proved to be one of the classical music highlights. I have previously performed “Petrouchka” by Stravinsky, excerpts from “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokofiev and “Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky. Adding transcriptions from “Anna Karenina” by Rodion Shchedrin, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and my own transcriptions of excerpts from Aram Khachaturian’s ballet would hopefully make an exciting program to listen to.

Finally, music that was influenced by World War II and the impact of this war on the arts is another profound topic for me. Some works were composed outside of actual hostilities (for example, Prokofiev’s “War Sonatas” or Krenek’s Sonata No. 3) but expressed artists’ reaction. There are some works that were composed in ghettos and were reflections of fear and sorrow. This repertoire has a special importance to me as it is related to my family.

4.  Who or what inspires you the most artistically?  Why?

I am trying to learn a lot from people outside of classical music. It even includes some pop music artists. Theater is the closest field in the arts to classical music performance and a great example of live energy exchange. Visual arts, especially video art, is a huge inspiration as it reflects contemporary ideas using technology of our time. And, of course, nature is the biggest inspiration as it is a subject of endless exploration.

5.  What is your favorite memory from the 2013 Competition?

Doesn’t the final result of the Competition deserve to be my favorite memory?  It is the best memory I could ever dream about…

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Gastón Frydman

Argentinian pianist Gastón Frydman possesses a voracious curiosity to explore the limits of what a 'classical music' concert means. He has won numerous awards and has performed in notable venues across the world as a soloist and as a chamber musician. In 2018, after receiving an invitation from Sergei Babayan, Frydman began his studies with Antonio Pompa-Baldi at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He received his Bachelor in Piano Performance and is currently pursuing his Master's with a specialization in Pedagogy at CIM.

Eva Gevorgyan

Critics rave at her “emotional eloquence and impeccable technique” combined with all “the important features of a mature master” (ICMA): 18-year old Armenian pianist Eva Gevorgyan has quickly established herself as one of the most promising talents in the pianistic world.

Eva Gevorgyan has performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, Russian National Orchestra, State Academic Symphony Orchestra “Evgeny Svetlanov”, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Malta Philharmonic and others. She has already performed at major concert venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle, the Mariinsky Concert Hall, Moscow Conservatory Great Hall, and KKL Lucerne. Eva has participated in the Verbier Festival, Duszniki International Chopin Piano Festival, Stars of the White Nights Festival, Eilat Chamber Music Festival, Palermo Classica Festival, the Perugia Piano Festival, ClaviCologne Festival and Klassik vor Acht, Jeune Chopin à Cannes, Ferrara Piano Festival, Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival, Fränkische Musiktage Alzenau and others. In January 2020 Eva was invited to perform in Yerevan in front of the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and his spouse. At the Alto Adige Festival she performed in the presence of Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella.

Eva has appeared with such conductors as Vladimir Spivakov, Lawrence Foster, Vasily Petrenko, Valery Gergiev, Alexander Sladkovsky, Roberto Beltrán-Zavala, Eduard Topchjan, Dimitris Botinis, Piotr Gribanov, Tigran Hakhnazaryan, Ruth Reinhardt, Anatoly Levin, Ilmar Lapinsh, and others.

At the XVIII International Chopin Competition in Warsaw Eva Gevorgyan was the youngest finalist. Evgeny Kissin chose Eva Gevorgyan as a scholar of the 2020 Klavierfestival Ruhr. Eva was also an ICMA Discovery Award winner at the 2019 International Classical Music Awards. She is a grand-prix winner of the Russian National Orchestra Competition in 2021. In total, Eva has received awards at more than forty international competitions for piano and composition in the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Russia among others, including First Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists (incl. special prize for the best interpretation of Bach and Canton Symphony Orchestra Prize), First Prize at the Robert Schumann Piano Competition in Dusseldorf, Second Prize and the Press Award at the Cliburn Junior International Piano Competition, Grand Prix and special prize for best Chopin interpretation at the Chicago International Music Competition, and First Prize at the Jeune Chopin International Piano Competition in Martigny. She has been a laureate and received five special prizes at Moscow’s Grand Piano International Competition. Eva also won First Prizes at the Chopin International Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Szafarnia, Poland, and Portugal’s St. Cecilia International Piano Competition, and won the Grand Prix at the International Piano Competition of Giuliano Pecar in Gorizia, Italy. Eva was awarded the Junior Prize (City Prize) at the Eppan Junior Piano Academy (Italy).

Eva is a Young Yamaha Artist. She received a scholarship from the International Academy of Music in Liechtenstein and participates regularly in the intensive music weeks and activities offered by the Academy. She also holds scholarships from YerazArt Foundation, Foundation Artis Futura, and from the Armenian Assembly.

Eva Gevorgyan was born in April 2004. After studies with Natalia Trull at the Central Music School in Moscow, she joined the Reina Sofia School of Music in Madrid, where she continues to study with Stanislav Ioudenitch. Eva was invited to the International Piano Academy Lake Como, where she participated in masterclasses with Dmitry Bashkirov, Stanislav Ioudenitch and William Nabore. She has also participated in masterclasses with Pavel Gililov, Grigory Gruzman, Piotr Paleczny, Andrea Bonatta and Klaus Hellwig.

John Zion

John Zion serves as the Managing Director of MKI Artists, one of the leading classical music management agencies in the United States where he directs the careers of a prestigious roster of artists, ensembles, and composers. He is also a co-founder of OurConcerts.live that produced and streamed more than 300 concerts during the pandemic and continues to provide access to live music to audiences around the world.

Also an active consultant, John works with artists, administrators, and arts organizations on career development, project management, and digital marketing. John serves on the board of Chamber Music America and has guest lectured and presented on arts-related issues at the Colburn School of Music, University of Michigan, Manhattan School of Music, Banff Centre, APAP|NYC, and Chamber Music America’s National Conference. He was named one of the “Rising Stars in the Performing Arts” by Musical America in 2012 and received a BM in Violin Performance from the Hartt School of Music.

Gabriela Montero

Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in The New York Times that “Montero’s playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power…soulful lyricism…unsentimental expressivity.”

Recipient of the prestigious 2018 Heidelberger Frühling Music Prize, Montero’s recent and forthcoming highlights include debuts with the New World Symphony (Michael Tilson Thomas), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo (Aziz Shokhakimov), Orquesta de Valencia (Pablo Heras-Casado), and the Bournemouth Symphony (Carlos Miguel Prieto), the latter of which featured her as Artist-in-Residence for the 2019-2020 season. Montero also recently performed her own “Latin” Concerto with the Orchestra of the Americas at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and Edinburgh Festival, as well as at Carnegie Hall and the New World Center with the NYO2. Additional highlights include a planned European tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; a second tour with the cutting edge Scottish Ensemble, this time with Montero’s latest composition Babel as the centrepiece of the programme; her long-awaited return to Warsaw for the Chopin in Europe Festival, marking 23 years since her prize win at the International Chopin Piano Competition; and return invitations to work with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony, Jaime Martin and the Orquestra de Cadaqués for concerts in Madrid and Barcelona, and Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada.

Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras to date, including: the Royal Liverpool, Rotterdam, Dresden, Oslo, Vienna Radio, and Netherlands Radio philharmonic orchestras; the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and Australian Chamber Orchestra; the Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Toronto, Baltimore, Vienna, City of Birmingham, Barcelona, Lucerne, and Sydney symphony orchestras; the Belgian National Orchestra, Württembergisches Kammerorchester.

A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Montero is also a frequent recitalist and chamber musician, having given concerts at such distinguished venues as the Wigmore Hall, Kennedy Center, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Cologne Philharmonie, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Lisbon Gulbenkian Museum, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Seoul’s LG Arts Centre, Hong Kong City Hall, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and at the Barbican’s ‘Sound Unbound’, Edinburgh, Salzburg, SettembreMusica in Milan and Turin, Lucerne, Ravinia, Gstaad, Saint-Denis, Violon sur le Sable, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Rheingau, Ruhr, Trondheim, Bergen, and Lugano festivals.

Montero is also an award-winning and bestselling recording artist. Her most recent album, released in autumn 2019 on the Orchid Classics label, features her own “Latin” Concerto and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, recorded with the Orchestra of the Americas in Frutillar, Chile. Her previous recording on Orchid Classics features Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and her first orchestral composition, Ex Patria, winning Montero her first Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album (Mejor Álbum de Música Clásica). Others include Bach and Beyond, which held the top spot on the Billboard Classical Charts for several months and garnered her two Echo Klassik Awards: the 2006 Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year and 2007 Award for Classical Music without Borders. In 2008, she also received a Grammy® nomination for her album Baroque, and in 2010 she released Solatino, a recording inspired by her Venezuelan homeland and devoted to works by Latin American composers.

Montero made her formal debut as a composer with Ex Patria, a tone poem designed to illustrate and protest Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption, and violence. The piece was premiered in 2011 by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Montero’s first full-length composition, Piano Concerto No. 1, the “Latin“ Concerto, was first performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with the MDR Sinfonieorchester and Kristjan Järvi, and subsequently recorded and filmed with the Orchestra of the Americas for the ARTE Konzert channel.

Winner of the 4th International Beethoven Award, Montero is a committed advocate for human rights, whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall. She was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015, and recognised with Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela. She was invited to participate in the 2013 Women of the World Festival at London’s Southbank Centre, and has spoken and performed twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters. She was also awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.

Born in Venezuela, Montero started her piano studies at age four with Lyl Tiempo, making her concerto debut at age eight in her hometown of Caracas. This led to a scholarship from the government to study privately in the USA and then at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hamish Milne.