From Russia, with love … for music
Q: You are the music director at St. Michael the Archangel on Siesta Key. Tell us about your personal background and also your musical background.
A: I am originally from Russia (born and raised). I graduated from the Moscow Conservatory of Music summa cum laude with a master’s degree in concert piano performance.
I became a U.S. citizen in 2012 and I am very proud to be an American. I’ve always had a big dream to come to America, where everything is possible. And after many years and hard work, my dream has come true. I am very happy to be here.
Q: What brought you to St. Michael’s?
A: I had been working at other churches before I was offered to work at St. Michael’s. As soon as I walked in, I immediately loved it here. So, it wasn’t a hard decision to accept the position of the music director (although I had to say goodbye to my previous church of St. Mary Star of the Sea, where I worked right before St. Michael’s).
I also really love the people and all the staff, and our wonderful Fr. Michael.
Q: The holidays are approaching. Name your three favorite Christmas songs, and why.
A: “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Why? Hmm … beautiful melodies, beautiful words that speak to my heart. Especially “O Holy Night” — that I sing in English, French and Spanish.
Q: Getting young people involved in church can be a challenge these days. Does your music program help recruit them?
A: Yes, I hope so! I try to choose beautiful, often more contemporary music. But what is most appealing, hopefully, to younger people is the fact that I have two other young professional musicians playing with me — the violinist and the trumpet player.
It’s a privilege to have such great musicians with us at church Mass. Together we are creating an interesting, lively, beautiful ensemble.
Q: What adjustments, in regard to your music program, have you had to make during the pandemic?
A: We had to make a few adjustments. Because we can’t use our hymnals — temporarily, we hope — it’s hard for the congregation to sing without words. So, we decided to have more instrumental music, rather than singing. For example, during the offertory and communion.
Also, sometimes we would have a longer prelude while people who couldn’t attend the Mass would watch it online. We hope it helps to lift our spirits during these difficult times.
Q: We understand you are a performer who even has recorded CDs. Other than at the church, how can people enjoy your music?
A: Yes, I am primarily a concert performer. I’ve been performing since the age of 5. I’ve played solo concerts in Russia, Spain, and in the U.S.
I have also played with symphony orchestras, with different theater orchestras, and participated in theater productions as well.
I perform different styles of music: classical, Broadway, pop. I also sing.
Before the pandemic, I was performing in theaters, performing arts centers, country clubs, and churches in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Alabama, and Vermont.
When the pandemic hit, musicians only had the choice to perform online. So, that’s what I did, too. Now things are starting to reopen again, and slowly performances are coming back. I am hopeful that soon I’ll be performing again in big concert halls!
I also play at a local Italian restaurant, Chianti’s. It’s a lovely place with good food and live music. I play there on weekends.
I have two CDs. One is classical piano music. The other one is singing the original songs.
I have several music videos of my performances on YouTube.