From Moscow to Fresno, by way of Brazil.
Uzbekistan's Tamila Salimdjanova, a student at the famed Moscow Conservatory, got a big boost to her career when she won the gold medal at the 2012 BNDES International Piano Competition in Rio de Janeiro. That win put her on the fast track to be considered for the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series at Fresno State.
Series artistic director Andreas Werz was a juror at the 2010 Rio de Janeiro competition, and he has been using his connections at the biannual event to nab promising young international pianists. In 2011 he brought in the 2010 gold medalist, Fabio Martino, to perform.
Salimdjanova, 21, is making her American recital debut in tonight's Fresno State concert. She will perform works by Schubert, Schumann, Liszt and Prokofiev. We caught up with her via email for a brief interview.
Question: What piece did you play at the Rio de Janeiro piano competition? Were you nervous? Tell us what you remember about that day.
Answer: Well, let me remember it. I played a very diverse program. Works by Liszt, Mozart, Beethoven, Ligeti, Schumann. And in the final round I had to perform the Liszt Concerto No. 1, and, yes, I was a little nervous the day before the concert because it was a new one for me. I'd never played it with an orchestra before, and this concerto is a bit dangerous. And I was already tired after three previous rounds. Fortunately, all went quite successfully on stage, and I got the prize.
How old were you when you started playing? What is it like to study at the Moscow Conservatory?
I started playing piano at 7. I entered a special music school named after V. Uspensky in Tashkent and was enrolled in the class of Tamara Popovich, a famous teacher in Uzbekistan. Then, at the age of 15, I moved to Moscow and started to study with Irina Plotnikova. The study at the Moscow Conservatory is very interesting. The environment is great: students, high level quality professors, lessons, many interesting concerts. All these provide the possibility of developing your own personality in a rich creative atmosphere.
This is your first performance in the U.S. Where are some other cities you've performed?
Paris, Rio de Janeiro, different cities in Germany, in Milan and Moscow, of course.
What do you like to do for fun when you aren't practicing?
Many things: Walking, meeting with friends, watching movies, reading, swimming. In general, enjoying the Life!
Pick one of the pieces you'll be playing in Fresno and give us your thoughts on it.
Oh, I love all the pieces I'm going to play, but I'd like to pay special attention to Schumann's Fantasy in C Major. This work touches all the fibers of my soul. It's incredible music — the most inspired and monumental piece by Schumann. I adore his sudden contrasts and unusual structure. I can compare it with Chopin's 3rd Sonata because of the richness of the images and monumentality.
Tamila Salimdjanova with Keyboard Concerts, 8 p.m. today, Fresno State Concert Hall. keyboardconcerts.com, (559) 278-2337. $18, $12 seniors, $5 students.