By Caesar Vallejos
OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Eagle News Service
The Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Republic of the Philippines brought two international music competition award winners from the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory, in concert, at the New Era University last June 8, 2019.
Performing live at the NEU Auditorium, pianist Ivan Koshcheev and baritone Kirill Komarov marveled the audience with their classical repertoire, highlighting masterpieces from the most celebrated Russian composers including Sergei Rachmaninoff and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
Speaking in Russian, Komarov and Koshcheev, both 25 years old, used an interpreter during the exclusive interview with Eagle News. Both agreed that the NEU “performance was different from the rest of our performances.”
“The music was unfamiliar to the Filipino audience, yet they still accepted the performance very warmly,” they added. The duo received a long and warm applause and a standing ovation at the end of the program.
“I was awed by the acceptance of the audience and I am glad to be here,” pianist Koshcheev said.
It was the first trip of the Russian artists in the Philippines who also performed a classical music concert dedicated to the Day of Russia that was celebrated at the Makati Shangri-La last June 7.
The Philippines “is a beautiful country and the people are very warm and always ready to help,” baritone Komarov said.
“It’s amazing,” pianist Koshcheev mentioned about his Philippine experience. Both expressed willingness to come to NEU and the Philippines again, “not only to share Russian music but Russian culture”. They also wanted “to introduce themselves to the Filipino culture, its music and wanted to know about Filipino composers.”
Knowing that the majority of the NEU community present at the concert do not understand the Russian language, and having informed that the audience felt the emotion of their performance, the Russian artists gleefully reacted, “that is the most important.”
Admiring the Russian artists’ high quality technique and their excellence displayed in the cultural program, Bro. Rod Ramos, Dean of the NEU College of Music said, “that wasn’t easy, it takes years of dedication and perseverance to accomplish those levels of performance.”
The Russian Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Igor Khovaev, tried to downplay his presence at the cultural program, and even re-introduced the Russian artists for a well-applauded encore performance. The Ambassador recalled the NEU hospitality during his previous visit at the university when the Embassy hosted “The Forum”, a program of Eagle Broadcasting Corporation designed to discuss various projects and activities of the diplomatic community.
‘The best way to win the hearts of Russians’
In an exclusive interview with Eagle News after the concert, Ambassador Khovaev said that the cultural program is part of Russian’s way “to acquire the hearts of the Filipinos.” Similarly, he said, “for Filipinos, music is the best way to win the hearts of the Russians.”
“We are very grateful to New Era University for its attention paid to Russian music in particular and Russian culture in general,” the Ambassador said. He also acknowledged the NEU Choir for its “wonderful performance” of Russian songs and the singing of the Russian national anthem during the celebration of the National Day of Russia. The Russian Ambassador also thanked the INC Administration, the NEU Board of Trustees and Eagle Broadcasting Corporation for their support in the cultural event.
He announced that “now, we are discussing new projects between the Russian Embassy and the New Era University. We value our close relationship and partnership. We have very good prospects. We will try to use this channel of communication in order to help many young Filipinos to know more and learn more about Russia.”
“I would like to emphasize that cultural exchanges are a two-way street. I think it’s time to focus not only on foreign music but also on the promotion of Philippine music. I am sure that this will be enjoyable for many Russian people,” the Russian Ambassador said. He also stressed that the Embassy of Russia will continue to intensify cultural exchanges as these “play a crucial, important role” in the development of the diplomatic relationship between the two nations.
No boundaries, no bias
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Nilo Rosas, NEU President said, “Russia is truly a land of beauty and warmth, and today, we celebrate one of the aspects of that beauty – music.”
“Even here in the Philippines, a large number of Filipinos have heard of the names of Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Music knows no boundaries. It has no political bias. We Filipinos love romantic ballads and popular songs but we are no stranger to the novel notes and arias of the classics,” the NEU President emphasized.
“Please bear in mind of our deep kinship with the Russian people and the rest of the world,” Dr. Rosas added. The program, he said, is “a cultural experience of the best of Russian classical music.”
Indeed, it was, as the NEU Auditorium audience gave the young pair of Russian talents a rousing applause after each musical piece and accorded them a standing ovation at the end of the program. The artists also performed the classic compositions of Schubert, Glinka, Chopin and Babajanyan during the event.
Young as they were, the Russian artists have stellar credentials. Pianist Koshcheev participated and won in the following competitions: X International Competition of Performers and Composers (Romanticism: Its Origins and Beyond) in Moscow, Russia – Second Prize (2018, Moscow, Russia); XII Adilia Alieva International Piano Competition – First Prize and two special prizes (2018, Annemasse/Geneva); IV International Piano Competition (Victor Merzhanov); Diploma for Best Performance of a Work of Schumann (2017, Kyustendil, Bulgaria) and XVIII International Maria Yudina Competition – II Prize (2017, Saint-Petersburg, Russia).
Baritone Komanov, on the other hand, received the following accolades: Laureate of the 1st Degree Of the International Competition MMPF “Fermata” (Moscow, 2016); Winner of the 1st Prize of the 3rd All-Russian Competition of Vocalists, Natalia Shpiller “Masterpieces of Russian Music” (Moscow, 2016); Diploma Winner of the 1st International Competition of Vocalists, Otsa (St. Petersburg, 2017); and Diploma Winner of the 1st International Competition of Vocalists, V. Sobinov (Yaroslavl, 2018).