Acclaimed pianist’s master class a learning experience

By making simple adjustments to the music, Kuleshov demonstrated his expertise in a one-on-one, open master class.

I sat in for the Master Class for piano, located in the Lorton Performance Center, taught by Valery Kuleshov, a renowned Russian pianist, and it was astonishing. Kuleshov has won multiple prizes, including the Honored Artist of Russian Federation in 1997, the First Prize winner at the Pro Piano International Competition in New York City in 1998 and many more. He has played in more than 18 countries, in almost every continent, and is critically acclaimed in all of them.

Before the Master Class even began, Kuleshov sat down and started playing at one of the two pianos that were in the room. I am only to assume it was a freestyle piece, as it did not seem to have much structure that a regular piece of music has, and yet it still sounded as if it were being played in a performance.

To give a little more insight on how brilliant Kuleshov is, a student had forgotten their sheet music, but instead of making them wait until their instructor brought them copies of their music, Kuleshov said, “It is okay, I know this piece. Begin playing.” He was able to take notes and give critiques in his head, based of his memory of the music, for the entirety of the roughly five minutes it took for the instructor to get a copy of the song.

The first student to play sat down and began without any sheet music at all. For someone who can barely play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” this was astounding. Each student, six in total, was given roughly 30 minutes with Kuleshov, who immediately began taking notes as they played. After they were done, he sat down at the second piano and had them start again, stopping them every once and awhile to give critiques and comments.

These critiques did not seem like big differences when they were separated, only little things here and there. But when he had the student play again, incorporating his comments, it gave the pieces entire new sounds and depths.

The Master Class was an invaluable experience, for both the players and just those watching, as both a learning experience and an opportunity to be in the presence of a great musician. Sadly, I believe this is the only Master Class he is teaching on campus this year, but if you are ever able to hear Valery Kuleshov in concert, I highly recommend it.

Post Author: Kaitlyn Argo