Top Musicians Offer Free Moscow Master Classes

Mstislav rostropovich fundUtkin will host an oboe master class during the weeklong festival at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center.

If you are an aspiring young musician or simply a passionate music lover who faints at the idea of listening to Yuri Bashmet or Van Cliburn after a busy day at work, then the first international master-class festival, “Glory to the Maestro,” organized by the Mstislav Rostropovich Fund, is the event to attend.

The festival, the first of its kind in Moscow, will see some of the world’s leading musicians host evening master-class sessions for free.

The Rostropovich Fund for Gifted Musical Students was established in 1991 to help talented young musicians with their careers. Mstislav Rostropovich, who died in 2007, was widely acclaimed as one of the greatest cellists and conductors of the 20th century as well as for his humanitarian work.

“My father felt that it was his sacred duty to help people without asking anything in return, and especially, to help young musicians in need of support,” said his daughter Olga Rostropovich, the fund president and the project’s initiator, RIA-Novosti reported, “Rostropovich’s lessons and master classes are legendary. His participation in people’s fate very often changed those people’s lives for the best. Today, through participating in the Master Class Festival his friends and colleagues continue with the work to which he dedicated his entire life.”

Apart from Bashmet (viola) and Van Cliburn (piano), the musicians giving master classes include Sergei Krylov (violin), David Geringas (cellist and conductor) and Arkady Shilkloper (French horn). The festival will close with a master class by Galina Vishnevskaya, Rostropovich’s widow, in opera singing.

“I see this festival as an opportunity to meet young aspiring musicians and discover a new audience for my music,” said Alexei Utkin, one of the musicians giving a master class at the festival, in a phone interview “Since my instrument — the oboe — doesn’t have the traditional popularity of the piano, violin or cello. I don’t know how many people will attend the master-class, which will take place in a form of my own performance, a question-and-answer session and my commentaries for those who would like to hear my opinion of their musical skill.”

Utkin said the festival is very important as a way to push aspiring young musicians but that it was only a small part of what is needed.

“Having been to the provinces, I can say that we have very few musicians who are able to become professionals out of nowhere, without the proper funding and education, especially because of the lack of major governmental efforts for such support,” he said.

“We need to first and foremost raise the prestige of the musical profession in society, start paying higher salaries to the musicians and create more orchestras that these musicians can join, and meanwhile, not be surprised that so many of our talented musicians prefer to work in the States,” he said.

Next March, the Rostropovich fund with the Moscow government will organize a “Rostropovich Week” in Moscow, participants of which will include Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, Bashmet and Mikhail Pletnev with the Russian National Orchestra.

The Festival “Glory to the Maestro” will run Sept. 13-19 at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center, 25/1 Ulitsa Ostozhenka. Metro Kropotkinskaya. Tel. 637-7703. Entrance is free.