Called “an outstanding Russian pianist with a luxuriant tone” by the Los Angeles Times, Svetlana Smolina has impressed critics and audiences the world over. Find out more at svetlanasmolina.com.
CLICK HERE to watch here play Scriabin’s “Feuillet d’Album” opus 45 and “Fantasy in B Minor” opus 28.
HOMETOWN: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
HOW I DESCRIBE MY SOUND: Classical piano, which has the capability to imitate any existing sound and even those created by our imagination—be it an orchestra, the infinite sounds of nature, or the human voice. As pianists, we very much depend on the instrument we are playing. Each has its own personality and serves as the final chain in the dialogue and emotional connection between the performer and the audience.
MUSICAL TRAINING: Balakirev Music College in Nizhny Novogorod, Russia with Natalia Fish, Indiana University with Alexander Toradze, Brussels Royal Conservatory with Evgeny Mogilevsky, Oberlin College with Monique Duphil, and University of Michigan with Arthur Greene.
FIRST GIGS: The very first were at the Mokrousov Music School Number 11 in Nizhny Novgorod, where I started piano studies from the age of eight. There we had plenty of weekly solo and chamber music performance opportunities. My first big orchestra performance happened later after winning the National Piano Competition and receiving a governmental “New Names” scholarship. I performed Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto with the Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic at the Sakharov International Music Festival.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels, Alfred Cortot, David Oistrakh, Valery Gergiev, Maria Callas, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, and Miles Davis.
WHAT I LISTEN TO AS A MUSICIAN: To the time and to what is happening between the notes. Then to everything that resonates, whether it’s a sound, speech, or silence.
MY BIG BREAK: I can’t really single out one. It’s been more of a progression and the integration of all of the events. But meeting and studying with my piano professors collectively formed and inspired me.
LATEST ALBUMS: B. Britten’s piano concerto “Young Apollo,” recorded live from Disney Hall with the iPalpiti Orchestra and Maestro Eduard Schmieder, a Chopin solo piano works album for Chopin Project, and Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” with the Mariisnky Orchestra and Maestro Gergiev on the Mariinsky Label.
FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR: Steinway pianos. For me, there’s nothing else that comes close. It’s the highest revelation, the only instrument that can speak infinitely without any borders or limits. It sometimes plays even better than the pianist! If there is such a definition as a “golden, glowing sound,” then it is definitely the Steinway sound.
WHAT’S NEXT: I’m performing at numerous festivals, including the Philadelphia International Music Festival (I’m directing the piano program there), and the release of my new solo album, as well as a few solo and chamber video recordings. I will also tour to China and Thailand with the Dublin and Thailand Philharmonic Orchestras.
ADVICE: Love what you do 100 percent. Have a burning intensity and passion for the music. Explore and make new discoveries. Don’t stop searching and don’t hesitate to start from the scratch to build your own interpretation of a piece. Be truthful, fully dedicated, self-disciplined, and committed to your choices. Follow your dreams and your imagination. Be respectful to your colleagues onstage. Make your own choices and don’t ever regret. Everything that happens has its good and negative sides and it’s our experiences that build the road to mastery.