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A Piano Passage
Every year, Ukraine holds the Horowitz International Competition – one of the most respected in the world of piano contests, gathering young and talented pianists from all over the globe. Roman Lopatynsky, first-prize winner at the Horowitz competition in 2010, has recently returned from Japan, where he gave two concerts, dazzling the sophisticated Japanese audience with his mastery. We give him the opportunity to let his words, rather than his fingers, do the talking.
The Horowitz International Competition for Young Pianists is indeed a highbrow classical music event, and winning any of its various categories means not only the acknowledgement of a pianist’s mastery, but also opens up the prospect of engagements at some of the world’s best concert halls. Something Roman Lopatynsky recently found out.
The Japanese Connection
The Horowitz Piano Competition and Japan have been mutually interested in each other for many years. It’s the first time though, that Japan has invited winners (Roman Lopatynsky and Alexandra Kasman) over to perform. That took place in Osaka and Tokyo on 12 – 16 March of this year. In fact, the tour had been planned for the year before, but the earthquake at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant made that concert impossible. This year the concerts paid a solemn tribute to that great tragedy.
Roman Lopatynsky reflects on how he felt very proud of his native country, seeing Ukrainian flags fluttering and boards near Yamaha Ginza Hall proclaiming Welcome Roman Lopatynsky and Alexandra Kasman. “The whole thing was organised to the highest level and I was very happy to experience that. For a musician, it is very important that nothing distracts from the concert. During out stay in Japan, there was a person in charge of opening doors for the soloists, lifting the piano cover – every little thing was organised for me to perform to my best, I needed nothing more. I even played on a gorgeous piano, and could perform thousands of semitones on one single note!” Roman effuses.
Although Japanese audiences tend not to be overly expressive, they don’t stand up with crashing applauses for example, they were still astonished by the complexity of Roman’s repertoire, and greatly appreciated his performance. In his musical collection, which Roman usually chooses intuitively himself, were some really difficult and rarely performed compositions. One was a piece by Stravinsky, and Scherzo from Symphony #6 by Tchaikovsky was another, both demanding the highest mastery from the pianist, due to such complicated rhythm structure.
His outstanding talent and sophisticated musical taste, Roman inherited from his family – both his parents are pianists, and they brought their son up in an atmosphere of classical music. Roman mentions that although his parents did not push him to become a musician, he chose this way on his own, recalling the person who made him sure of his choice. “Borys Arkhimovych, my father’s teacher at the Kyiv Conservatory, was the closest friend of our family. He once heard me singing Bolero, by Ravel, and upon doing so proposed that I study at the Kyiv Lysenko Music School,” recounts Roman.
The child loved the lessons right away, and soon began taking part in classical music competitions. At 8-years old, he won special prize at the Silver Bells classical music competition in Uzhhorod; at 16, still studying at the Lysenko school, he became a student at the Italian private music academy, Accademia Pianistica Internationale. Roman says it happened quite by chance, as his outstanding talent was noticed by the director of the Accademia, Franco Scala, who invited the gifted young Ukrainian to study in Italy, even without any exams. Roman though, decided he would take all the relevant exams, and became among the three most successful applicants enrolled.
These days, Roman combines studying at the Kyiv Conservatory and Italian music academy, where he says some of the world’s best teachers work. Planning nothing for future years but improving his mastery, Roman sees boundaries neither in his craft nor his country. One day, a distant country may call indeed, for now Roman is happy to be here. Wherever he may be though, Ukraine is in his heart, soul and fingers.
IX Volodymyr Horowitz International
Competition for Young Pianists
8 – 23 June
National Philharmonic of Ukraine (Volodymyrskiy Uzviz 2)
Opening Festive Concert
Soloists Roman Lopatynsky (Ukraine) and Kim Ko Wun (Korea)
8 June at 18.00
9 – 14 June at 10.00 – 13.00 and 16.00 – 21.00
15 – 18 June at 10.00 – 13.00 and 16.00 – 21.00
19 – 20 June at 17.00 and 19.00
21 June at 17.00
Competition Winners Solo Performances
22 June at 19.00
Festive Award Ceremony and Closing Concert
23 June at 18.00