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Interviews, News, Music and more

Piano Prodigies


Spring in Kyiv comes hand-in-hand with one of the most respected classical music competitions in Ukraine and the world - the lengthy-titled International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz.
This year, the Vladimir Horowitz International Competition for Young Pianists is taking place in Kyiv for the 10th time and will attract young gifted pianists from all over the world to showcase their mastery of the ivories and gain competition experience.

The Ukrainian competition is unique because it has such a wide age range - from 6 to 33 spread initially across three age groups junior, intermediate and senior.

The Evolution
In 2000, the competition added an additional category - the Horowitz-Debut, which features young pianists aged up to 14: "The youngest contestants aged from 6 to 14-15 years are our greatest hope," says the competition's General Director Yuriy Zilberman. "Back in 1995, when we were preparing for the first competition, we understood that for us, the teachers and educators, the most interesting thing would be to support the youngest pianists - that is why the Horowitz competition is the only one in Europe with such a big age variation."
The competition takes place every two years so that the 10th competition, 2013-14, is split into two parts - this year will feature the junior group and Horowitz-Debut, next year - the intermediate and senior groups. "The Horowitz-Debut group is a kind of self-introduction for the youngest musicians," Zilberman says. "Their performances are limited in time to 10-15 minutes, but that gives us a chance to mark out the budding stars that could later become real stars in classical music."
Another reason the Horowitz competition is so well-respected is its aim - to support the further musical careers of prize-winners, according to organiser Polstyakina Iryna. "One of the main initiatives of the competition is effective international cooperation so the winners of the Horowitz competition have a chance to perform abroad and get even more awards at European classical music competitions."

Success Story
Illya Zuyko was a prize-winner in the Junior Group in 2008 when he was 14 - this success gave his career a powerful boost. In 2011, he took second prize at the Gian Battista Viotti International Competition in Italy. Zuyko started his musical studies at the age of 6 and today is considered a virtuoso - despite his being only19-years old. Zuyko performs such complicated works as Beethoven's piano pieces: "This year I performed Beethoven a lot, including his Hammerclavier - the most complicated sonata by Beethoven. Though I'm not aiming to perform the most difficult pieces of music, a more important task is to understand the meaning of music and let the audience get this meaning."
As well as studying at Lysenko Kyiv Musical College, Zuyko performs a lot in Kyiv and abroad, and composes his own music in his free time. Throughout his career in classical music, Zuyko says his greatest achievement is realising his own imperfections, so he is constantly working to gain technique and a deeper, almost spiritual, understanding of music. For Zuyko, music is a form of escapism. "The notion of a ‘normal life' is very blurred for me," he says. "I watch the degradation and moral decline of society and understand music is my rescue; in a way, music is my ‘normal life'."

An Endangered Artform
Classical music in Ukraine exists against the odds - underfunded and considered "not for the masses", it exists on the fringes. Despite this, Ukraine gives the world very talented people and as Zilberman points out there isn't a classical music institution in the world where one does not find a Ukrainian name. Valida Rassoulova-Suk, a well-known musician and a member of the jury board at the Competition this year echoes that sentiment. "I'm always amazed with the quantity of talented musicians Ukraine gives birth to," she says. "I've judged at many competitions in the world, but the Horowitz competition is the most interesting for me. Of course, it's not easy to judge little musicians, but I can say contestants in Kyiv demonstrate an excellent technical level and sport-like competitive spirit."

Junior Group Round II and III
22 - 24 April, various times
Award Ceremony and Closing Concert
25 April at 18.00
National Philharmonic of Ukraine (Volodymyrskiy Uzviz 2)

Kateryna Kyselyova

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