Leah Rankin | Staff Writer
In the past two weeks, the Chautauqua School of Music has held master classes with some of the most seasoned professionals in the music industry. These teachers have had successful solo and chamber music careers, and most hold positions in the most prestigious conservatories in the country.
Alexander Gavrylyuk is also a seasoned professional, soloing at major concert halls around the world and winning all the big-name competitions. Gavrylyuk holds his own on the list of distinguished master class coaches, but he’s only in his 20s.
Gavrylyuk will conduct several piano master classes during his visit to Chautauqua. The first master class will be held at 2:30 p.m. today in the Sherwood-Marsh Studios.
Gavrylyuk is not a new name to the Institution. He has performed in the Amphitheater before and said he is anxiously waiting to return.
“I am hopelessly and irretrievably captured by the charm and the magic of Chautauqua and the people there,” Gavrylyuk said. “I find it a great example of harmony, inspiration and the expression of love in many forms.”
The Ukrainian virtuoso pianist, who performed his first concert at the age of 9, has traveled to Chautauqua from Sydney. He has won many awards, most notably the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, but he said he always tries to keep his success in perspective.
“My main focus is my personal and musical development and for me to have a healthy perspective,” Gavrylyuk said, “not to see myself as the source but only a messenger or a connection point between music and the audience.”
Perspective is especially important when most of the students in today’s master class are about the same age as Gavrylyuk. But Gavrylyuk said he does not find this situation to be awkward in the least. He believes the experiences and musical discoveries in a master class are mutually beneficial for the student and the teacher.
Frank discussions and interesting revelations are what Gavrylyuk looks forward to most, he said, as both he and the student pianists explore new territories in sound and technique.
Gavrylyuk’s experiences from performing around the world have tested his skills as a pianist, especially during one competition when someone accidentally turned out the lights during his performance. The 15-year-old Gavrylyuk not only finished the piece in total darkness, but he walked away with first place.
“I was lucky to have a good amount of practice in the dark during the times of ‘Perestroika’ in Ukraine,” Gavrylyuk said, “when authorities used to turn off electricity every evening in order to preserve it, and I just ended up practicing piano at home in the dark.”
Gavrylyuk said he envisions himself as a concert soloist for the rest of his life. He said performing music means that he is also a music student. Every performance teaches him something different about music and its power to bring people together.
“The way people are connected in a mutual emotional impulse during the performance is a miracle,” Gavrylyuk said. “I do not think there is anything else in this world that can connect people in such a unique way and move people from any culture, upbringing or beliefs in the same, very spiritual and intimate way.”
Gavrylyuk will also hold a master class at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday in the Sherwood-Marsh Studios.
Admission to Gavrylyuk’s master classes is $5.