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Pianist Asiya Korepanova –artistic force and creative incubator

At the concert event titled: In memory of a great Artist, on December 9th, 2018 at 3 pm, dedicated to works of Tchaikovsky as part of the Sparkill, N.Y. Union Arts Center’s concert series, Korepanova shows her cycle of 18 drawings inspired by Tchaikovsky’s Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72, for the first time in New York.  (photo credit: Emil Matveev)

She also shares the stage, performing  excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s large scale work with the series’ artistic directors, pianists Vassily Primakov and Oxana Mikhailoff, as well as cellist Yves Dharamraj and violinist Filip Pogady, in a mixed chamber  music and solo piano program dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the eminent composer’s death. A collection of Korepanova’s 18 poems, accompanying each drawing, is part of the exhibit.

“Originally I did the drawings for Tchaikovsky in 2010, but have changed several of them since. I started learning the pieces of Op.72 inspired by the beautiful recording by Michael Pletnev, on the Deutsche Gramophon label. I quickly became obsessed with these 18 works and felt like I absolutely have to play them for the sake of my sanity and all kind of ideas for the images [and text] came to me, during this intense occupation with the music. It’s hard to describe in words, but the music sparkles some associations in my mind that can be visual or literal, and could be far from the immediate character of the musical piece,” explains Korepanova “Written late in his life,” she says, “the set of [Tchaikovsky’s]character pieces have vivid titles, opening up the temptation to interpret. For example ‘Dialogue,’ what could that be about? Or ‘Prankish girl,’ wonders Korepanova.

But perhaps more than an attempt to illustrate an exact storyline, the artist wants to express the mood she personally associates with the music:”There is a deep, hidden sadness in this music that does not necessarily come across in an obvious way, and that feeling addressed a lot of choices for me in terms of performance, imagery and text. I can’t say any specific composer translates another way; it is my reflection on music that comes across differently. Different music would bring another kind of inspiration, but I can’t label that,” she explains.(Wilde Jagd) (Lullaby)

The piano pieces were first published by Pyotr Jurgenson in September 1893 as Op. 72. They are included in volume 53 of Tchaikovsky’s Complete Collected Works, edited by Anatoly Drozdov (1949). Korepanova created a fine drawing that corresponds to each of the 18 musical titles, as well as a poem.

(Wilde Jagd)

  1. Impromptu Allegro moderato e giocoso (F minor, 119 bars).

  2. Berceuse Andante mosso (A-flat major, 80 bars).

  3. Tendres reproches Allegro non tanto ed agitato (C-sharp minor, 129 bars).

  4. Danse caractéristique Allegro giusto (D major, 218 bars).

  5. Méditation Andante mosso (D major, 85 bars).

  6. Mazurque pour danser Tempo di Mazurka (B-flat major, 192 bars).

  7. Polacca de concert Tempo di Polacca (E-flat major, 166 bars).

  8. Dialogue Allegro moderato (B major, 73 bars).

  9. Un poco di Schumann Moderato mosso (D-flat major, 95 bars).

  10. Scherzo-fantaisie Vivace assai (E-flat minor, 313 bars).

  11. Valse-bluette Tempo di Valse (E-flat major, 162 bars).

  12. L’espiègle Allegro moderato (E major, 46 bars).

  13. Echo rustique Allegro non troppo (E-flat major, 105 bars) [2].

  14. Chant élégiaque Adagio (D-flat major, 93 bars).

  15. Un poco di Chopin Tempo di Mazurka (C-sharp minor, 163 bars).

  16. Valse à cinq temps Vivace (D major, 100 bars).

  17. Passé lontain Moderato assai quasi Andante (E-flat major, 78 bars) [3].

  18. Scene dansante: Invitation au trépak(Танцевальная сцена: Приглашение к трепаку)Allegro non tanto (C major, 237 bars).

pianist Asiya Korepanova. Her performances are as virtuosic in facet as they are layered in depth, and whatever artistic angles the project entails, she engages unequivocally, propelled by the vigor of her innermost herself. (photo credit: Maria Bocharova) Korepanova’s genuine talent, expressed throughout differing creative outlets of music performance, arranging, composition, art and poetry could be described as subtle and striking at the same time, with a commitment and flair for audience engagement that is tangible. Weather on the concert stage, or enlightening a classroom full of children with her non-for-profit Music for Minds, with her innovative you-tube series midnight pieces or her Festival Baltimore, creating a communal connection with classical music’s past, present and future takes center stage for Korepanova at all times.

Growing up in Moscow, Korepanova was familiarized early on with an artist’s need and obligation to build green roots, growing one’s audiences through constant outreach and performing for people in common places ranging from kindergartens to factories. “The effort it takes to make more people familiar with your art, while typically rewarded by minimal wages, also bears its own powerful excitement and the utmost valuable exchange of energy. This remains an important part of my day,” says Korepanova. “I don’t need to be paid to run my pieces in the morning for an audience. That’s part of my routine anyway and if I have a stimulated and engaged audience, like the school children for whom I created Music for Minds for, that’s great.”

For Festival Baltimore, a summer concert series and Academy at the University of Maryland now in its third season, Korepanova curates and performs with a mission of presenting and exploring complete cycles of composers; a complete collection of works that refers to a particular genre or instrumentation. The performances, which take place in chronological order, are geared to give a fuller experience of the composer’s personal development of style and characteristics over time, and to develop a deeper understanding and more intimate relationship with the work and its development during the lifespan of a composer. Ranging in repertoire from Baroque to Contemporary, the participating artists and students have so far performed complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas, complete Paul Creston works for alto saxophone with piano, complete Richard Strauss chamber works with piano, George Walker piano sonatas and complete Tchaikovsky string quartets – each performed during the span of just one evening’s program. The ambitious syllabus of the historic complete cycle is indicative of Korepanova’s faith in audiences’ supposedly dwindling attention spans. She loves the idea of a challenge and finds audiences, rather intrigued by these continuous no-intermission sessions, tend to show up equipped with music scores and plenty of time to spare.

Korepanova has personally experienced the power and intensity of performing an entire cycle of works and likens it to the transformation of time itself; this aspect has become something of a signature throughout many of her programs. Cyclic works also inspire her artwork as a dialectic reflection engaged with some of the musical masterworks she encounters. While Korepanova mentions many artistic influences ranging from Jan van Eyck to Aubrey Beardsley, Hieronymus Bosch to Andrew Wyeth, she identifies her artistic imagination on canvas – at least in her works based on music – as another layer of emotional response to the music.

Homeschooled until the age of 10, Korepanova has been drawing ever since she can remember, making all kind of connections between the arts: writing music to poetry, poetry to music, drawing to poetry and music etc. “I was hyperactive as a child, so my mother figured she can distract me with creative activities, and I browsed through the museum catalogues, while still on her lap. That is how I first got my pencils and pens and a typewriter, which I learned letters from, producing countless lists of nonsensical ‘poems.’”

Her first attempts (aged 9-12) of putting different art forms together purposefully were articulated with two publications of her drawings and poems, and with her collection of poems to Tchaikovsky’s cycle, The Seasons. In 2007, she published a collection of poems and drawings set to Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Études, followed by a collection of drawings for Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, the following year.

“Sometimes when you draw inspired by music, suddenly you understand something new about the music. It is almost like a coloring book – somehow you add an extra layer of information to your perception of the musical text – which often manifests in something very interesting, often unusual. At the same time, my personal task is to try my best not to conceive my drawings as illustrations. They have to be able to stand on their own, by themselves.”

“I do not really think visually when playing music, it is rather an association. Music, art and poetry interconnect in my mind, but these are connections I feel and they are not necessarily the same for others. You can’t capture one through the other, you can only reflect,” she says and specifies the different process:”Drawing comes with the knowledge that I won’t be able to change anything once it’s on the paper. Writing music is different, you can listen or play and go back erase notes and add notes. With drawing, you have to think very clearly right away…both are very precious, you almost tiptoe each time you attempt to create a new one,” describes Korepanova.

You can learn more about Korepanova’s work and upcoming performances on her website:

By Ilona Oltuski,



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