I’m a Russian-born award-wining composer, songwriter and concert pianist, a graduate of St. Petersburg Conservatory with a double major in music composition and piano performance. Since 2003, I have been living and pursuing my musical career in New York City. I have been composing in a very wide range of genres: from classical to Pop and Broadway.
I have been writing music and playing piano for as long as I remember myself. I was probably one of a very few children in the world who did not have to be pushed to go ahead and practice. As soon as my mother, a pianist herself, went back home from her job every day, I asked her, “Please, stop cooking, let’s go to make music”. She was the one to immerse me into the attractive world of music, singing songs for me and playing Beethoven and Chopin since I was a toddler. I fell in love with music very early. To the whole family’s surprise, I first started singing when I was just 8 months old. It was a famous Russian New Year song. My mother was dreaming that I will be a pianist, my father thought I will be a composer, and my grandmother thought I will be a singer. All the dreams each of them had about me, came true.
I started my musical journey as a pianist and composer at the age of 5. I had my first concert appearance in one of the main St. Petersburg concert halls when I was 8 years old. Soon after, I was invited to give my first interview on a Russian radio. That was my happiest day ever. I played my compositions in Philharmonic Hall’s concerts. My songs were performed by children choirs in different concert halls and were broadcast on a radio when I didn’t even know about it. As a child prodigy with perfect pitch, melodies that constantly came to my mind and constant admiration and encouragement from both my fans and my family, I can definitely say that I had a very happy childhood. However, I had to work very hard for many years, be patient, self-demanding and insistent in achieving my goal of becoming who I have become now. It all would not be possible without truly legendary teachers I was tremendously blessed to have had, while studying in the Special Music School for Gifted Children and later on in the St. Petersburg Conservatory. At the age of 15 years, I won the Honorable Award for Musicality and Deep Understanding of Music at the “Young Virtuosi” International piano competition in Czechia. A few years after, in my conservatory years, I became the First Prize Winner of the international Gartow competition as a composer of art songs- one of my favorite classical music genres.
One time when I was preparing my songs for a concert, I was fortunate to meet a member of the St. Petersburg String Quartet who liked the music and asked me to compose a String Quartet for them, which I did. Since then, while I was living in Russia, they already performed it abroad and throughout the US. This is how many honorably acclaimed press reviews about my String Quartet #1 appeared in different American publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Charleston Daily Mail and the Kalamazoo Gazette. The quartet was also broadcast on WQXR and on the Classical Music Discovery radiostation, performed in Yale University, Merkin Hall, and later when I already lived in US, at the Music Mountain Festival and Mohawk Concert Trials (MA). This successful collaboration led me to another commission, which was the next String Quartet composition that was premiered at the Chamber Music America Conference (NY, 2007) and the Albuquerque Music Festival (NM, 2007).
When I moved to USA in 2003, I practically had to start anew. Ironically enough, everything started from a local Jewish Community Center from where my new fans began spreading the word about me. My new exciting journey as a concert solo performer and accompanist started. In 2006 I was invited to be an accompanist for a Mapleshade Records CD-release of Rachmaninoff’s art songs. Numerous hours of recording in the studio was a real creative heaven to me. I also recorded an all-Mozart piano solo program CD and some of my compositions there. Soon after, I was introduced to a wonderful clarinet player, Ben Redwine, who commissioned me to compose a concert piece for him to perform at the International Clarinet Convention in Atlanta, GA. I got inspired and composed a 21 minutes-length humorous suite called, “Pantomimes” for clarinet and piano that I performed with him at the convention.
Meanwhile, I became an ASCAP member and New York Composers Circle member, which opened a road to new concert possibilities. I started performing classical contemporary music written by my colleagues and my own compositions in the best concert halls in New York, including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Steinway Hall, Bechstein Pianos, Di Menna Center and others. My performances were honorably aclaimed in New York Stringer Magazine. I also was invited to be actively involved in concerts of the New York Women Composers, the Musicians Club of New York, the Long Island Composers Alliance and the Pushkin Society in America. My mini tour in Boston as the Music Director of the Pushkin Society was one of its highlights. In 2011 I was invited to play solo concerts at Bargemusic, a one-of-a-kind flowing venue on the Hudson River and was commissioned by the venue to compose my “Color Dreams” Suite for solo piano. I also played it as part of the Composers Concordance’s Marathon. Another wonderful collaboration was the one with the Poulenc Trio that performed my "First Snow" for oboe, bassoon, violin and piano at the "Wall to Wall Behind the Wall" International Festival (Symphony Space, NY, 2010) and An Die Music Series (MD, 2009).
I would say that the American period of my creativity brought a new wave of inspiration in me. Many new opportunities for artists, new envinroment, new culture, a scope and elegance of skyscrapers, beautiful mountains and, of course, new friends - all of that felt new and exciting and influenced me to compose many new chamber music compositions, art songs, pop songs with my own lyrics and also one of my major classical compositions: a 2-hour-length orchestral ballet based on the “Adventures of Nils” tale by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöff. I really enjoyed composing music to this imaginative story! It was a commission from maestro Vladimir Lande, who later also commissioned me to compose an epic orchestral poem called, “Red Revolution in the Air” as a retrospective of the Russian revolution of 1917 and its dramatic consequences in the history of the whole world. This piece was performed by the Siberian State Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017, one century after the revolution occurred.
In addition to the classical music genre, my real passion is songwriting. I compose both lyrics and music as well as I actively participate in co-producing and arranging my songs in a studio. I consider it to be a huge part of my creative identity. First, I composed lyrics in Russian, then I got them translated into English by other translators, and then, already for the whole decade, I have been composing lyrics in English.
I feel blessed to have received almost 20 different awards from different competitions since I have moved to the USA, including “Best Easy Listening Song”; “Best Classical Composition”; “Best Classical Artist” and “Best Instrumentalist” from Indie Music Channel (Hollywood, 2015); Honorable Mention from 14th Billboard Song Contest; Honorable Award from the 2006 Great American Song Contest; Honorable Mention from the 2011 and 2007 “Song of the Year” and from the 11th Unisong Contest; 2nd prize from the “Golden Chanukah”; and 2 ASCAP Plus Awards; among others. I also got my song “Stairwell of Fate” into the finals of the American Songwriter magazine.
In 2015, I was the opening act for Tracii Guns from Guns N’ Roses at Whiskey a Go Go (Hollywood). I also performed my songs in different showcases, including the Cape May Singer/Songwriter Showcase, Songsalive Showcase and the Independent Music Conference, as well as at the Le Poisson Rouge, one of the iconic night clubs of New York City. I was lucky to get into the top 20 on the "Women of Substance" Radio Podcast. My songs were featured at imradio.com, on the Eartaster Sampler 4, and the Noizepunk & Krooner Shows at kalvos.org. My song, "Inside Out", was included into "Hot Tails In The City" Free Lap Dances, Vol.3 Compilation CD. I was also chosen among hundreds of applicants to have my song reviewed with Radian Records. While attending ASCAP EXPO in Hollywood in 2013, I was offered to sing, act and dance for a music video to my pop song called, “Sold out”. All of this feels like a wonderful dream.
The message I’m trying to convey in the majority of my songs is getting back to the happy attitude you had as a child, when you were authentic and not yet overwhelmed by the burdens of adult life. My songs cross boundaries between classical and pop. They sound like a crossover bridge between these two different music languages. In many ways, they sound like Broadway and pretty easily can be adopted to a Broadway play. On the other hand, many of them, especially, instrumentals are pretty cinematic, visual and perfect for movies. My song “Fly Away” I co-wrote with James Hancock, a songwriter from Illinois, has already been placed in the Soda Box Music Library.
I also compose World/Eastern Mediterranean music. I feel these oriental danceable rhythms in my blood.
Finally, about a year ago, a new part of my creativity also was awakened in me—Christian and spiritual hymns. I write both the music and lyrics for them. Many of the hymns have already been performed in different churches, and I’m happy to see how the message of the hymns makes a difference and such a warm response in people’s hearts.
In general, I am capable of creating a song of any style and any direction and I usually get inspired very quickly. What else I am doing is engraving music in Sibelius music notation software program, improvising, fluently playing by ear and of course, sight reading.
I recently became represented by Spotlight Artist Management. Currently, I have been collaborating with opera singers who perform my art songs, playing livestream concerts, including the ones hosted by the Open Classical organization, and preparing a CD-release of my Broadway songs. Very recently, I performed an excerpt from my “Adventures of Nils” ballet live on the RTVI Russian-American major tv channel. It was a delightful experience. My very new composition I composed during the lockdown is a quintet for flute, harp, violin, viola and cello. It is going to be performed in a live concert in the Museum of Nassau County on October 3rd, 2020.
When people ask me what I like to do more—composing or performing— I always answer that I cannot imagine my life without either of those 2 activities. Performing music by other composers suddenly brings me inspiration to come up with my own new musical ideas, compositions and improvisations. Creating new music bursts into the desire to play. The same phenomenon happens to me in the realm of different genres. The more I play or listen to classical music, the more chance that you’ll soon hear me composing a Pop or Broadway song. The more I listen to top 40 hits, the more chance I‘ll all of a sudden come up with a serious classical composition. Everything is in balance, and I find it fascinating.
In between my musical activities I love to draw cartoons and write poems (in fact, I love it almost as much as writing music). I usually don’t choose an exact time for composing. Sometimes, it could be in a deep night. Inspiration always finds me in the midst of doing something else, and I welcome it into my world and let it be with me for as long as it asks me. We love each other :)