Interview with Sergueď Markarov

For Sergueď Markarov (b. 1953), UNESCO’s artist for Peace, a virtuoso musician, laureate of International Competition Casagrande (Italy) professor at Ecole Normale Superieure and a concert pianist, music is not only his passion, it is a higher revelation. He most recently performed at UNESCO at a gala concert held on 6 November 2006 to celebrate UNESCO’s 60th anniversary.

Interview by Marina Yaloyan

What message are you trying to pass to people through music?
Honesty. Honesty towards beauty and honesty towards the work that you have to do to create that beauty. It is rare to find this today, because modern art is largely a reflection of the social reality that is oftentimes ugly. Please, don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of understanding for show business. Never believe somebody when he says: “I don’t want to make money!” (chuckles), that is what show business people do. But in all this constant rush, there is something lost. Something important. Something that maybe we were trying to recreate here today.

Speaking your concert [the gala concert held at UNESCO on 6 November 2006], did you think that the dialogue between the cultures and the engagement of two orchestras - one traditional and one classical, really worked?
That concert was special. It was very unique in its own way. The world hasn’t seen anything like this before. So many musicians from different cultural backgrounds and musical traditions collaborating together. In this case I do think it was a noble “show.”

You have left Russia and you have been in France since 1993. Has it been difficult for you as an immigrant and an artist to feel accepted in France?
I have never felt myself an immigrant. I came to France as an exchange professor and got French citizenship based on my reputation, which is quite rare in France. France to me is an amazing kaleidoscope of people, ideas and sounds. Both as a person and a musician I feel welcome here.

Do you visit other countries also?
I am giving a concert in Moscow next week. I have recently performed in China. After the concert in Moscow, on the 16th I am playing at an embassy in Poland; on the 23d and 24th – with a Finnish orchestra in Finland. So far, I have performed in 45 countries.

What is one of the best-remembered concerts you have had so far in your career?
In Saint-Petersburg, I was the student of Professor Pavel Serebriakov. He called me at 9 a.m. one morning and said: “Tomorrow is the concert of Shostakovitch.” By the tone of his voice I already knew that he wanted me to play. In one day I learned both a prelude and a fugue by Shostakovitch and the very next day played them at the concert.

How old were you when you had your first concert?
I was 8. I played a concerto of Mendelssohn with orchestra.

What about hobbies?
Chess. At the age of 9 I won Master of Sport in chess.

What are your plans for the future?
An exclusive concert in the French Senate is coming up this spring. I am going to perform at one section of the concert, my students at another. I would like very much to work more on this teacher-student relationship in the future through the development of a fund for young talents. At this point, it is hard to say what it will look like eventually, because I would like the foundation to exist both in France and in Russia. I do think it is important to have the message of peace carried as a torch by future generations.

Photo: © UNESCO/Marina Yaloyan
Publication Date 09-11-2006 11:00 am
Publication Date 09-11-2006 11:00 am
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