What is it about the relationship between music and human neurology that makes outstanding talent in that field emerge at such an early age? We’ve all heard about Mozart beginning to compose original pieces for the clavier by the time he was five; and it’s a story that keeps taking new forms in the present day. Children born with a natural ear for music often seem to go on beyond the “prodigy” phase to become the great musicians of their times.
Among those contemporary wunderkinder is Russian pianist Ilya Rashkovskiy, who took to the keyboard at age five, began composing a year later and gave his first performance with the Irkutsk Chamber Orchestra at age eight. He studied with Mary Lebenzon at the Novosibirsk State Conservatory, with Vladimir Krainev at the Musikhochschule in Hannover and with Marian Rybicki at the École Normale Supérieure Alfred Cortot in Paris.
Rashkovskiy went on to perform at some of the most prestigious concert venues in the world, including the Théatre du Châtelet, Salle Playel, Cologne Philharmonic Hall, Essen Philharmonic Hall, Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He became a top prizewinner in the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition, the Citta di Pinerolo Competition, the International Jaen Competition and the Hong Kong International Competition. More recently, he appeared at a gala concert held in tribute to Sergei Prokofiev at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society. As a player he has been hailed for his dynamism, expressiveness and tonal color; and it surely doesn’t hurt his career any that the guy is matinée-idol handsome.
At age 32, Rashkovskiy has reached the point in his professional arc where he’s being sought-after as a teacher. So it’s a bit of a coup that PianoSummer at SUNY-New Paltz has been able to lure him in to offer a master class this Friday afternoon, followed by a recital this Saturday evening. Both take place in McKenna Theatre on campus and are open to the public. Admission to the master class, beginning at 3 p.m. on July 21, costs $10 (suggested donation) at the door. The concert, with a program of works by Liszt, Scriabin and Prokofiev, begins at 7 p.m. on July 22. Tickets cost $30 general admission, $25 for seniors, students, SUNY faculty and staff.