S. Prokofiev, March from the “Love for three oranges”
Performers: Oleg Sulyga, violin, Alina Uddin, piano
Oleg Sulyga started his musical education in native Moscow, later continuing in Dallas, Paris, and Houston under guidance of Emanuel Borok. As a member of world-renowned orchestra “The Moscow Virtuosi” led by Vladimir Spivakov he performed in the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Currently Oleg is a member of Houston Grand Opera orchestra. He also plays with such ensembles as Mercury and Arc Lyrica, and appears in concerts with Houston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony.
Alina Uddin is an accomplished Ukrainian-born pianist, teacher, chamber performer and accompanist. She has appeared on different performing venues in Ukraine, Egypt, Spain, Morocco and US. Alina holds Master’s degrees from National P.I. Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine and Moore’s School of Music, University of Houston. In 2014 she founded Tune In Music Academy, a program created with the aim of helping everyone, regardless of age and musical education, to learn or to continue learning to play piano.
Hans Graf, former Music Director and conductor laureate of Houston Symphony returns this month to lead the orchestra in performing music by Ravel and Debussy.
In conjunction with these concerts Russian Cultural Center presents the evening with maestro Graf dedicated to French music.
Presentation by maestro Graf;
Debussy: “Reflets dans l’eau” & “Hommage à Rameau”, played by Alina Uddin, piano – teacher at the International Music Academy (Houston);
Ravel: Sonatina in F-sharp major, played by Tomas Jonsson, piano – student at the International Music Academy (Houston).
Tomas won the Silver Medal and was awarded the special award for Best Prelude at the 2011 International Chopin Youth Competition. And in December, 2012, he was selected Winner in the Houston Young Artist Competition.
The International Music Academy was founded in 2005 by Ekaterina Ryndina-Loudermilk, graduate of Gnessin’s Music Academy in Moscow and Rice University.
Selected pieces by Sergey Prokofiev
Sergey Kuznetsov – piano Bella Morales – piano, Matthew Webb – piano, Laura Webb – mezzo-soprano
Sergey Kuznetsov is a Professor of Piano at Lone Star College. He had won many prestigious international piano competitions. Sergey had performed numerous concerts around the world and organized chamber music ensembles in France, Israel, China, Russia and Canada. He is also an active educator. Besides teaching at Long Star College, he performs with master classes, recitals and lectures in colleges, universities and schools around the world.
On January 26 a Houstonian audience had the unique opportunity of hearing a solo concert performed by Albina Shagimuratova accompanied by the pianist Semyon Skigin. For the concert Maestro Skigin chose a program that could not be improved upon to showcase the unique, multifaceted vocal abilities of the singer. In the first part she sang romantic lieder of the composer S.V. Rachmaninoff, conceived and written for high, technically faultless voice, such as the one Shagimuratova possesses. The romances in full measure communicate comprehensively the Russian origins of the composer’s melodies.
Albina has a special respect for the music of Rachmaninoff. In the singer’s own words, “One can endlessly immerse oneself and be astonished by the never-ending, constant, evasive beauty of Rachmaninoff’s melodies.” She performed the composer’s amazing vocal miniatures, “Beauty, Do Not Sing For Me,” “Daisies,” “Springtime’s Waters,” “It Is Good Here,” and others with great feeling and love. Albina admits “I put of part of myself in every one of Rachmaninoff’s romantic lieder.” In Semyon Skigin’s performance, all of the colors of Rachmaninoff’s piano style, with its powerful, truly orchestral sound and with the subtlest nuances, sparkled in all of its tones.
In the second half of the program, undoubtedly, for the first time in their history, were gathered together into a single performance three of the most complicated arias of Italian Bel Canto. Their complexity lies not only in their cosmically high registers, where the soprano has to perform a head-spinning cascade of coloraturas and dynamic contrasts – from a full forte to a whispery piano. The acting demands in these scenes of madness and sleepwalking from operas by Bellini and Donizetti are equally theatrical and vocal tasks, and few are they who can fulfill them. In the present day, Albina Shagimuratova has no equals. They fully entered into each character, communicating the entire complicated spectrum of the feelings and emotions of her characters, thoroughly demonstrating her fiery onstage personality. Her clear, crystalline voice steamed, buttressed by the inspired playing of Semyon Skigin. Such a program demands a master of the highest order and tremendous endurance. Albina astonished the audience with how she acquitted herself of this heavy task.
The Houston audience, adoring Albina, warmly greeted each of her sung compositions. The attendees were particularly won over by her rendering of the famous Rachmaninoff “Vocalise” (Opus 34, Number 14), which was performed finely and with the simplicity of genius. The “Nightingale” of A.A. Alyabev was heard during the encore, which Albina sang, literally, at the very boundaries of what the human voice is capable of. The audience was as literally shaken by this performance. The eyes of many persons shed involuntary tears of joy. It is in such moments that one actually understands that great art is truly inspiring, that it makes us purer and happier. This concert was very much needed by our Houston audience. We are also pleased that we, the Russian Cultural Center, was able to give such a gift to lovers of opera singing and to the fans of Albina Shagimuratova.
Following the concert there was a formal reception in honor of the artists. At the reception, Albina Shagimuratova was given an award, the “Hans Graf Prize for Contributions to the Development of Russian Culture in Texas.” This was the second year that the prize was given out by the Center.
Maestro Hans Graf was not able to attend the concert due to his being on tour. He did send a letter of congratulations to Albina:
“Dear Albina: You are very dear to all of Houston’s music lovers, especially so to the Houston Symphony and myself. You are a bright star in the musical firmament that has given us moments of great joy!
Regrettably, I am not able to attend the concert in person, but I am with you in spirit. I send my congratulations and I am proud of your achievements.
With Love and Admiration,
The reception attendees included the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Houston, Aleksandr Zharov and the Deputy Consul Sergei Azizov and their wives, His Excellency Prince Piotr Galitzine and wife, and sponsors of the event, representatives of Singapore Airlines, Frost Bank, Beauty Medica, the Stinemetz Law Firm and Elena Wunderlich. Unfortunately, some sponsors, Viktor Dunaevskiy and the representatives for the companies Atlantic Ro-Ro and Svytrys were not able to attend the recital. Nonetheless, the Russian Cultural Center is extraordinarily grateful to all of the sponsors for their support.
The Rite of Spring is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company, with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky and stage designs and costumes by Nicholas Roerich.
Movie by the BBC documents the debut of Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece. The music and choreography by Nijinsky were so far advanced for the time that the Parisian audience rioted in its inability to grasp the event.
Alexander Scriabin (1872- 1915) was one of the most innovative and most controversial of early modern composers. Many of his works are written for the piano. The earliest pieces resemble Frederic Chopin and include music in many forms that Chopin himself employed, such as the etude, the prelude and the mazurka. The style of composer changed enormously as he progressed. The early pieces are romantic, fresh and easily accessible, while his later compositions explore harmony’s further reaches.
An avid chamber musician, Teng-Kai Yang currently works on his doctorate in piano performance at University of Houston. His mentor is the most respectful pianist professor Abby Simon.
Wine will be served.
Advanced ticket purchase is recommended as seating is limited.
The Russian Cultural Center of Houston has teamed up with Hans Graf, the Houston Symphony, and renowned restaurateur, Tony Vallone, for a special evening “Imperial Russia New Year’s Eve Gala. Our first Annual Gala highlights the best of Russian music and cuisine and will bring in the New Year in classic Russian style, on Friday evening, January 13, 2012.
The gala is honoring the Music Director of the Houston Symphony, for his continued support of the Russian Cultural Center as a board member and the director of our musical programs.
In collaboration with the Houston Symphony, patrons and music lovers have the option of attending both the Jones Hall performance of Sergey Rachmaniniff’s Piano Concertos Number 1 and 4, with guest soloist Kirill Gerstein, and a Russian-style New Year’s Eve Gala at the Ciao Bella restaurant following the concert.
Please join the Russian Cultural Center, the Houston Symphony, and Tony Vallone for this extraordinary evening. Make it a date night or invite your friends to enjoy Gerstein’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos and Chef Vallone’s special menu of Classic Russian dishes resurrected from the twilight reign of the Romanoffs. The Gala will commence at 10:00 pm, featuring open bar of premiere Russian vodkas, wine and beer, special 5-star three course supper, silent auction and music by the “Gypsies.”
Be a part of the special tribute to the most beloved Russian composer. Don’t miss the opportunity to reserve a table with this year’s Gala Honoree, Maestro Hans Graf, or with our special guests Russian Consul General, Vice Russian Consul and world renowned pianist Kirill Gerstein.
Proceeds from the event are tax deductible and will be used to underwrite the cultural programs offered to Texans through the Russian Cultural Center. Together, we can boost visibility of the Russian culture and improve the quality of cultural events in Houston.
Individual Gala Tickets – $150
Gala Sponsor Level Tables of Ten
$25,000 – seating with Maestro & Mrs. Hans Graf (table of 10)
$10,000 – seating with the Russian Consul General and spouse (table of 10)
$5,000 – seating with pianist & Mrs. Kirill Gerstein (table of 10)
The tickets are treated as a charitable donation and are tax deductible.
Gala featuring Supper menu by Tony Vallone and music by the “Gypsies” band
Open bar with Russian vodka, wine, and beer
Raffle for 2 round trip to Moscow, courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Attire: Black Tie Optional.
For more information and reservations, please call 713.395.3301
The Gala Chairs:
Jamie Stewart and John Sparacino
Victoria Filippov and George Nemeth
The Gala Committee:
Mrs. Donna Alexander, Ms. Lisa Whitaker,
Dr. Boris & Larisa Rubashkin, Dr. Alex Prokhorov,
Ms. Kate Campbell, Ms. Esther Olivarez, Ms. Lisa Lee
The Gala Honoree:
Hans Graf, Music Director of Houston Symphony. Known for his intensely musical interpretations of a wide ranging repertoire and creative programming, the distinguished Austrian conductor, Hans Graf, is one of today’s most highly respected musicians. This year’s gala honors Hans Graf for his service on the board of the Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” and an important contribution to our musical program.