Categorized | Arts

Continuing a Classical Legacy

Posted on 06 August 2009

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Future Stars (from left) Xin Tong, Jianyan Sun, Qi Zhang and (Standing at right) David Aladashvili of the Vladimir Nielsen Piano Festival

Victoria Mushkatkol, co-founder, instructor and artistic director of the Vladimir Nielsen Piano Festival, said, “What we have here is kids from a wide variety of countires, Korea, China, Israel, Georgia, Germany, Armenia and America…and we help them to be better at what they do.” What they do is play piano and they play well.

Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Mushkatkol played in the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 10. She went on to study at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Professor Vladimir Nielson, a Russian piano legend. Mushkatkol was so touched by her time with Nielson that years later in the summer of 2007 she set up, with the help of Dr. Robert Maimone, co-founder and executive director of the festival, a foundation in Sag Harbor to help teach students, from around the world, in the same way Nielson helped teach her.

Most of the students have studied in prestigous music and arts conservatories around the world including New York City’s Juilliard School.

The festival, Maimone explains, is a resource for talented young aspiring classical pianists from around the world. The festival provides financial assistance for kids to travel to Sag Harbor, gives them a place to stay where they are given extensive lessons on piano technique and theory. The organization even provides legal assistance to the students who are trying to enter the country. “I really wanted to do something different for these children. Our cultural mandate was to help these students,” said Maimone.

“It’s all about promoting classical music,” said Maimone, who offered up his own house for the students to stay and learn while in Sag Harbor. Helping these students has become a passion for Maimone.

“It is a privilage and an honor to be able to help mentor them on many levels; they are real committed young men and woman with increidble artitisitc performing abilities,” he said.

When the day is over the students have plenty of time for relaxation, from trips into town, to spontaneous song and dance parties. Maimone said “It requires a whole lot of energy to meet the needs of each student individually, but they are worth it.”

This summer the students of the Vladimir Nielsen Piano Festival will perform six concerts on several of the festivals Steinway pianos. The first performance is today, August 6 at 7 p.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton.

“I am not nervous for them, I am very confident for them…they always come through in the best, most exciting way,” said Mushkatkol.

For more information about the Vladimir Nielsen Piano Festival, or any of the concerts please call 899-4074 or visit their website at

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