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An 'Absolute' Chopin expert arrives at MSU

Image courtesy of Artists International Management
Pianist & MSU Artist-Faculty member Margarita Shevchenko

New MSU College of Music Artist-Faculty member Margarita Shevchenko is intricately linked to the works of Frederick Chopin. But in her Absolute Chamber Music concert this Thursday, she adds a complimentary composer.

She began playing piano at the age of 5 and made her first performance with a symphony at 12 years old, but Margarita Shevchenko doesn’t consider herself a child prodigy.

"Well, it depends on what country. While in Russia, I certainly wouldn't be considered a child prodigy because [it's] a pretty good established piano school and at that age of 12, you know, a lot of kids played with orchestras. I would say Russian school is more traditional." says Shevchenko. "It has more big schools. It's not like mostly private teaching… so, it's more structured. So, if you would want your child to be in the music school, you just take the child to the music school. In my city in Perm in the Urals, there were actually about nine music schools just in my city."

Shevchenko burst onto the piano scene by winning the prestigious International Chopin Competition in 1990 and that Chopin connection has naturally remained throughout her career. "Absolutely, I would say a big chunk of my repertoire and overall working with my teacher as well in Moscow was devoted to Chopin, because that competition requires a lot of music to be presented for the judges, and I enjoyed it the most. My teacher was excellent. She was the legendary Chopin interpreter and so I was lucky. After learning all this big repertoire, pretty much, I was pretty set for the rest of the repertoire because Chopin is, like, [a] fundamental composer for a pianist to have."

In my city in Perm in the Urals, there were actually about nine music schools just in my city. - Margarita Shevchenko

At Thursday’s concert in Old Town Lansing, part of the Absolute Chamber Music series, Shevchenko will naturally be playing music by Chopin, including the 3rd Piano Sonata. However, in conversations with Absolute Chamber Music’s founder, Richard Sherman, about the program, it almost didn’t’ have any Chopin at all. "I mentioned that I do have some Scriabin in my repertoire" explains Shevchenko "and he said— he actually suggested to do a full Scriabin recital and I wasn't really sure about that because Scriabin can be difficult for some audiences, maybe I would say not-Russian audiences, so I thought this combination would work really well because there is a lot of connection between these two composers. So we decided to do one half Scriabin and one half Chopin."

International Chopin Competition winner & new Artist-Faculty member of the MSU College of Music, Margarita Shevchenko plays a recital program of Alexander Scriabin & Frederick Chopin this Thursday night at Urban Beat on Turner Street in Old Town Lansing. This is the third of the four concerts in the Absolute Chamber Music series. Tickets and more information are available at absolutemusiclansing.org

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