20 February 2012 Tom Hunter
"Russian music, when performed by non-Russians, is often scholastic, or simply misinterpreted. Some performers concentrate on their voice more than the emotion in the music. I, on the contrary, always express the spiritual content, the soul of the song." - Sergey Zakharov
London Calling's Tom Hunter talks to Sergey Zakharov, one of Russia's finest baritone performers, ahead of his candelit evening of Russian Classical Music. The concert is in aid of Eurolog UK, a charity promoting Russian cultural, and is sponsored by The London School of Russian will be held at St John's, Smith Square this May.
London Calling: This is your first large public performance in London, but not your first visit to the city? Do you have any particular favourite places in the city you’re especially looking forward to visiting?
Sergey Zakharov: I have been to London a couple of times before as a tourist; I once performed at a Russian Aristocracy Ball, gave a concert to a Russian audience, and last year I sang as a guest performer at the Russian Song Festival. I shall be pleased to sing for the wide British audience this time. I like London, and a lot of places in it - I think it is the best city in the world! I have three favourite cities: San-Francisco, Kiev, and London, London being the King of cities!
LC: The concert will be raising funds for the charity Eurolog-UK.org, the Association of Russian Cultural and Education Organisations in the UK. Have you been involved in supporting this charity before?
SZ: I began to support this charity last year, when I came to perform at the Russian Song Festival, and acted as the chair of the judges. I think it is very important to support and promote Russian song culture, and help young talent.
LC: St John’s Smith Square is a very special venue in lots of ways. Does the way you prepare for a performance change from venue to venue?
SZ: I shall be pleased to perform at St John’s, but I never distinguish between prestigious and non-prestigious venues for my performances. I serve people, my audience, wherever I perform. I appeal to their souls, and it makes me happy, when I feel that they accept and share my perception of the world, my interpretation and feeling of the music.
LC: Many UK audiences might be unfamiliar with the Russian musical scene. How would you describe the night to people who are eager to come but might not know what to expect?
SZ: If people want to understand whatis the true Russian character,the Russian soul, I welcome them to my concert. Russian music, when performed by non-Russians, is often scholastic, or simply misinterpreted. Some performers concentrate on their voice more than the emotion in the music. I, on the contrary, always express the spiritual content, the soul of the song. The demonstration of one’s vocal instrument should not prevail in my opinion, although I am quite well equipped in that department. It is difficult to describe it in words. People should come to the concert and become part of this magical process – what is the very creation of Russian music. Every good and talented vocalist, when performing, brings new life to music.
LC: A follow up question, who else might you recommend to fans eager to find out more about Russian music?
SZ: It is difficult to recommend anybody on the current Russian stage at the moment. It has become too commercialised. Russian culture is being transformed into business, where money is becoming more important than true art.
LC: And finally, are you working on any new musical projects at the moment, and how can people find out more about them?
SZ: You've touched upon a very important issue for me, and my great dream. I am planning to create and record on disc a new programme of Russian romantic music-first part -Tchaikovsky and second - Rakhmaninov, who complement each other so well. And another plan is to compile a programme of popular arias and duets from Russian and Italian classical opera, and operetta for baritone voice. And of course, I would love to perform both new programmes in London in the future.
You can see Sergey Zakharov live at St John's, Smith Square on 1st May. More details here.
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