City Music Foundation (CMF) has announced the 5 musicians who are joining the CMF Artist programme as 2017 CMF Artists: Lotte Betts-Dean (mezzo-soprano), Eblana String Trio, Alex Hitchcock (jazz saxophone), Gwenllian Llyr (harp) and Rokas Valuntonis (piano).

These sensational musicians started CMF’s innovative two-year Artist Programme in October 2017 and will continue to work with the CMF as their career progresses.

Lithuanian pianist Rokas Valuntonis won First Prize at both the Nordic Piano Competition in Malmö, Sweden (2010) and the International Music Competition “Societa Umanitaria” in Milan, Italy (2013).

The mission of CMF is to turn exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to build and sustain rewarding and profitable careers.

Over the two years, CMF provides one to one business mentoring as well as tailored professional development workshops covering a range of topics including tax and financial management, networking, presentation skills, agents, PR, networking and much more. The mentoring continues with day to day access to the CMF team as well as artistic guidance from established players with international careers. On top of these professional development workshops, CMF Artists receive essential promotional tools such as websites, images and CD and video recordings, as well as help with new commissions and other projects to ensure each musician develops a unique niche and selling point.

CMF’s key position in the City means that we can use our experience, knowledge and connections within the music industry, as well as the City’s cultural network and business institutions, to provide unique and unrivalled support and education for our musicians.

A high proportion even of the most talented musicians fail to convert their great talent and extensive training into a career in music. We believe that by investing in these talented musicians early in their professional careers we can not only secure their employment, but help to ensure the future of quality music in the UK and beyond.

Previous CMF Artists have included the Foyle-Stsura Duo, pianists Cordelia Williams, and Samson Tsoy, clarinet player Joe Shiner, jazz clarinet and founding member of Kansas Smitty’s Giacomo Smith, jazz bass player Misha Mullov Abbado (now a BBC New Generation Artist) and percussionist Pedro Segundo.


(source: CMF press release)

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Who or what inspired you to take up the accordion and pursue a career in music?

I started playing the accordion quite late, when I was 11 and I began attending one of the national schools in Poland where I am from. I soon realised that this is what I wanted to do in my life. I was very lucky to have amazing teachers who were also great human beings so that helped me a lot in my decisions.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

I cannot name a single person in my musical career who has been the most important to me. I tend to take inspiration from everyone I have come across or worked with. My teacher Owen Murray from the Royal Academy of Music is one of them, for example, as someone who showed me the importance of sound quality.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

I think that maintaining the artistic vision in every concert is the biggest challenge but I think this problem touches most artists.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

It is very hard to name them as every performance is special for me and I try to give my best in each of them. If I have to choose one it would have to be my performance of Concerto Classico by Mikolaj Majkusiak for accordion and symphony orchestra in Vienna or my first album “Encuentro” with my group, the Deco Ensemble.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I love to play classical contemporary works for accordion and I think that is the most natural repertoire in classical music for accordion nowadays. But, I enjoy playing all different styles of music as it helps to develop your musical taste.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

My choices are based on my new discoveries. I love to go for the pieces or transcriptions which are not very popular or completely new.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

I think the Wigmore Hall is one of my favourite venues because of the acoustics. Also Studio S1 of Polish Radio is outstanding. I am also really looking forward to playing at the Wallace Collection for the first time as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency on 28th July.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Works by Gubaidulina are my favourite to perform and Chopin to listen to.

Playing Chopin on the accordion would be one of the biggest mistakes possible.

Who are your favourite musicians?

My favourite musicians are the ones who I work with as I am often very lucky to meet people who are very talented but, more importantly, are nice people to work with. I think is really important. From the musical legends my favourites are Vladimir Horowitz, the great jazz pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, and Paco de Lucia.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

I remember playing for one of the political institutions in Brussels during an exhibition of pictures on the martology of Eastern Europe. I did not want to spoil the institution but the organisers asked me to play one of pieces in my repertoire called The Gulag Archipelago based on Solzhenitsyn’s book. Unfortunately, straight after the performance, the audience were supposed to move to the area where the post event reception was meant to take place. However, most of the audience went there after I started playing. I thought that it was a very bad concert experience until one lady came to my dressing room crying and explaining that her family went through the Gulag prisons and how touched she was.
We went for coffee together and she told me a lot of incredible stories from her life which were absolutely inspiring. Those kind of moments compensate for all the bad experiences in a musician’s life.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

I would have to say it is the concept of musical journey in the concert which the musician can reflect on.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The word “perfect” should be completely erased from any language as there is no such thing in real life. For me happiness should be balanced between what you do, who you do it with and how you do it. Having a lovely family, doing a lot of concerts with my artistic vision and being able to enjoy life is as close to perfect as it can get in my opinion. Finding this balance in real life situation is the hardest bit.

Accordionist Bartosz Glowacki performs works by Scarlatti, Arvo Pärt, Trojan, Makkonen, Semionov and Piazzolla on Thursday 28th July as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency at the Wallace Collection 25-29th July. More details here

City Music Foundation’s mission is to turn exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians at the outset of their careers with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to pursue music as a viable and rewarding livelihood. 

www.glowackiaccordion.com

 

 

Dinara Klinton, London, April 2015

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music? Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My passion for music probably started in my mother’s womb, as she is a piano teacher, and I must have heard her play at that stage. According to my family, the sound of the piano was what worked best to calm me down when I was a baby, and when I learned to stand I started playing non-stop – picking up whatever I heard around me and on TV. I remember the day when I was four and my mum brought me to the Special Music School in my hometown Kharkiv (which is similar to the Purcell and Menuhin schools in the UK). She didn’t want me to become a professional musician, as she has had to endure many difficulties herself, but she felt that I had “abilities” (“talent” was a prohibited word) and had desire for it. After half a year of lessons, I was playing works such as Bach’s Inventions and Mozart’s Sonata Facile. I didn’t feel it was anything difficult, but I remember working at it a lot. It is only now that I realise it was because I was a prodigy, but then it was strictly forbidden to say anything like that around me. Three years later I won 1st Prize at the Vladimir Krainev International Competition, and since then Krainev has played a very important role in my life, career and in the development of my taste and musicianship. He was an extraordinary teacher: listening to his “kids” (students or laureates and scholars of his Foundation) he could suggest one tiny thing, which would make the whole work shine. I have never been an official student of his, but I have played for him many times at masterclasses and before his scholars’ concerts. I have to mention that I have always been blessed to have the best teachers – from the very beginning, and I wouldn’t have achieved anything without them.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I think it is believing in myself. Due to the nature of our work as musicians, those of us who have had to spend long hours practising from childhood are resigned to a certain level of solitude and hesitation. It makes us more sensible and responsive, but sometimes it is a disadvantage in this cruel world.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?  

There have been some performances I was quite pleased with, but I have never been satisfied. I’m quite happy with my latest CD recording of Liszt’s complete Transcendental Études. This was my dream project, and it was sponsored by the prestigious Benjamin Britten Fellowship at the Royal College of Music. I became the first ever recipient of this award, which is generously supported by the Philip Loubser Foundation.  I was also pleased with my performances in the Tchaikovsky and Chopin competitions last year.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I have been told that romantic music is my mother tongue. I agree, but would not limit it to that, as I genuinely enjoy and feel pretty much “at home” playing baroque, Mozart and Russian music.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

There is a long list of pieces I have been wanting to learn for personal and educational reasons for a long time. And another list of those works I have been asked to play. So, these lines cross sometimes, but in general I’m lucky to be able to learn and perform a huge range of repertoire each season.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

If I have to pick one, that would be the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. Rachmaninoff, Richter, Gilels, Horowitz, Rubinstein and many others worshiped by me from an early age played on this stage, and just this thought gives me an amazing feeling and inspiration. In general, the concert stage (no matter which one) is my favourite place in the world. It is the place I feel most comfortable, doing something I am living for. I am fortunate to be a City Music Foundation Artist who also help me secure great performing opportunities. 

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Whichever pieces I perform become my favourite. I don’t think it’s possible to deal with any music without utter dedication to it. I really love listening to orchestral and vocal music: the principle qualities of which pianists should always be aiming for.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

The immortal composers. Among the pianists – I would mention a few giants from the older generation – Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Gilels, Rubinstein.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

At the moment I would say my performance of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra last year. During the rehearsal I was tempted to stop playing and just to listen how beautifully they “sing.” It is an unbelievable feeling to listen to a great orchestra and be on stage with them!

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Music is connected to very hard work. The criteria that performances are judged by are very subtle and sometimes blurred. Our ultimate aim should be to create magic, which should leave the listeners’ souls with newly formed ideas plus a feeling of goodness and kindness. Also, to be knowledgeable about and prepare for other aspects of a career in music such as promotion, contracts and personal development, something which City Music Foundation have really helped me with.

Dinara Klinton’s new album Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante is now available on the Genuin Label. More details here.

City Music Foundation’s mission is to turn exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians at the outset of their careers with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to pursue music as a viable and rewarding livelihood. 

 

Pianist Dinara Klinton was born in Ukraine and has recently completed the Artist Diploma in Performance course at the Royal College of Music. Dinara is the first recipient of the prestigious Benjamin Britten Fellowship, generously supported by the Philip Loubser Foundation. Prior to this she was awarded a Master of Performance degree with distinction at the RCM where she was under the tutelage of Dina Parakhina. Upon graduating from the Moscow Central Music School, where she studied with Valery Pyasetsky, she went on her Graduate Diploma with Honors at the Moscow State Conservatory, where she worked with Eliso Virsaladze. Since 2014 Dinara is the City Music Foundation artist.
Dinara has won many awards in prestigious international competitions, including Third prize at the BNDES International Piano Competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2014), Second Prize and Special prizes for the best performance of the Semi-final recital, Chopin’s composition and Paderewski works at the 9th International Paderewski Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland (2013), Second Prize at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy (2007), Grand Prix at the Berne Interlaken Classics International Piano Competition (2010), Grand-Prix at the Vladimir Krainev International Competition for Young Pianists (2006), First Prize at the International Seiler Piano Competition (2003) and Second Prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition for Young Musicians (2004) . She has also received the Diploma for the best semi-finalist at the XVII International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (2015) and Diploma of Outstanding Merit at the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan (2006).
Dinara has appeared at many international music festivals including the Rheingau Music Festival, International Festival of Piano “La Roque d’Antheron”, Aldeburgh Proms, Cheltenham festival. She has performed all over the globe in such venues as Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall in London, Tchaikoivsky Concert hall in Moscow, Great hall of Moscow state Conservatory, Konzerthaus Berlin, Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, Warsaw Philharmonic, Tokyo Sumida Triphony Hall. She has also worked with many orchestras such as The Philharmonia Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Dinara’s playing has been broadcast on the radio and TV in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, France, USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, UK (BBC2, BBC Radio3).
Dinara made her debut recording at the age of sixteen, with Delos Records, and the album Music of Chopin and Liszt. Her second album ‘Liszt Études d’exécution transcendante’ is available now.

www.dinaraklinton.com

Photo: Benjamin Ealovega