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Alexi Musnitsky - Piano

Interview

1- You state that in your formative years you were fortunate to be the pupil of the renowned Russian classical pianist, Marina Ravor. Can you tell us more about her and what lasting impression she left with you?

She now goes by her maiden name, Marina Erokhina. Marina is special in many ways and now that I look back, I see that she rose to the challenge of dealing with me as much as I was challenged to meet her level of technique. She took me on at a very early age. Marina was extremely patient with me although she was dedicated and immovable in terms of perfecting technique and precision. This gave me a mission and she never let me drift from the strictness of how to play (that is, how to use your hands on the keyboard). At the same time, she understood and accepted that my style came from something inside of me and not on the scoresheet. She allowed me to use that. She gave me pieces to challenge technique like Goldberg variations and pieces with jazz components like Prokofiev. She called in a renowned professor to study how I processed music. So somehow, she managed to marry the strictness of technique with my emotion.

2- Apart from your sister is your family musical?

My sister is an artist though she expresses herself in art and cinematography. My Great Grandfather (on my father’s side) was a violinist, conductor and arranger (he invented a device called the arranger-aid). I know my Grandfather and my father also played the piano but never pursued it, perhaps because it is so difficult to make a living in music.

3- Will Ackerman, the Grammy-winning founder of Windham Hill Records and now the man behind Imaginary Road Studios contacted you, rather than the other way round, to play with four-time Grammy winner [cellist] Eugene Friesen and work with co-producer/engineer Tom Eaton. How did this honour feel like and how was it like to work this team?

Will asked me to go to his studio in the US to record a song and basically see how it goes. I planned to be there for one day. As soon as we started, he asked me to stay for the week and he called Eugene Friesen. We recorded the entire album. I was lucky that it happened suddenly and unexpectedly. If I had the time to think about it, I would have been overwhelmed. These are the biggest names and the most amazing talents. The studio is filled with platinum records and equipment I could only dream of. However, they were so easy-going and relaxed. They are so good that it just comes naturally to them. Will envisions the music and knows what will enhance the experience. What really strikes me are parts of the album that Eugene Friesen plays. The way he just joined in, unrehearsed, with no sheet music and very much impromptu. Yet he flowed with and enhanced the music as if he were there in my head with the same thoughts and emotions. I can’t explain how he did it, I just admire it.

4- You won first prize in the Flame International Piano Competition, the one and only time he entered. Would you enter a future competition if the challenge was there for you?

Piano is something I chose to do for myself. Although I enjoy playing for others, it is just a way for me to communicate. Otherwise, I am just a person striving for a balanced life with sports, entertainment, studies, etc. I felt that competitions take you off balance and become the dominant part of your life. My teacher, Marina Erokhina, entered me into the Flame competition to see how I compared to others my age. I participated, played and did well, however, I am not attracted by the need to compete.

5- When you turned 18, you started composing your own music. What was the drive behind this and does your inspiration come to you ‘naturally’?

My inspiration comes from my feelings & emotions from things that happen to me. The music is an expression of my thoughts and this is my way of communicating. In this regard, I do not play to entertain or to be famous but to talk about what I deeply feel. It is my pleasure in talking to people through the piano.

6- Currently, you are finishing your final year at the Paris School of Business, completing his BBA (Bachelor in Business Administration). Is this study a new ‘string in your bow’, or is it intended to compliment your musical base and possibly allow you to progress to a music production company or something similar in the future?

I finished my BBA and in June I will complete my Masters. I was always interested in business and chose this school because of its diversity and internationalism. I believe that this will help me in the music business or in any endeavour. I can’t say I know my future in music or in business but I may need both.

7- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

When I was very young and still playing classical music. I was with my family at a large hotel resort in Catelonia, Spain. The guest pianist asked me to join him in the middle of his concert. He put me at the grand piano and then left. I played but I was so small that people couldn’t see me over the piano. They saw the pianist walk away and then heard me playing and some people got up to try to see who was playing.

8- How often do your practice?

I play every day. There is no set routine. I play because I feel emotions and want to transpose that into sound. Sometimes I play old pieces, sometimes new compositions and sometimes pieces that use certain techniques.

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

This never occurred to me. Since I am not a fan of solfège, I may not be a good teacher

10- Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

On the classical side, I admire Glenn Gould and Krystian Zimmerman. In my genre, Ludovico Einaudi.

11- What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

This is something that has to come from you. Music is best done for yourself as your means of communicating, not for fame or fortune. If you want your music to be in the public, then you will need a lot of help and support from the professionals that are there such as producing, mastering, arranging, accompanying, promoting and more. Accept the help.

To return to Alexi’s profile:

submission January 2017