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Children’s great talent appreciated

Paleski Agenchik (Polesie Small Fire) Festival held for second time this year, gathering participants from 13 countries, including China and the United States of America
Despite being a young project, the festival is successful in attracting young talents, competing in three nominations: ‘Piano Forte’, ‘Button Accordion and Accordion’, and ‘Composition’. For every four Belarusian participants there is just one from abroad but the judging panel is mixed: Belarusian State Music Academy Professor Zoya Kacharskaya; Vice President of the International Accordion Federation, Prof. Tibor Racz (Slovakia); Doctor of Music and pianist Helen Cha (Hong Kong); pianist and composer Alexander Timofeev (the USA — Moldova); pianist and conductor Mourad Assouil (Morocco); and virtuoso button accordion player Vladislav Pligovka.

Virtuoso accordionist Vladislav Pligovka

Most participants have their own story about travelling to the event, which is held in little known Drogichin. Vyacheslav Spiridonov, born in Belarus but lecturing at Zurich’s Zakhar Bron’s School, brought two of his pupils from Switzerland, commenting, “I love to see parents’ facial expressions on suggesting that they go to the Drogichin competition. It’s an honour for Belarus to produce such a major international project and sends the best sort of message to the world, better than any diplomacy. It improves the country’s image.”

Pianist Helen Cha, from Hong Kong, finds our quiet Belarusian life truly exotic, saying, “I adore Drogichin. We have skyscrapers everywhere while here it’s so different. I’ve seen many talented children from Belarus and I’m not paying empty compliments. I’m making an objective statement in saying that the young children are enchanting in the way they play. The little girls look like princesses and behave like angels!”

Judging can be very difficult. Organiser and jury member Yuri Blinov, a famous pianist, explains, “Talent is the key criteria for our assessment. We focus on the extent to which a child is involved in the music. We can sometimes overlook technical errors, or when they are simply yet to fully develop their skills, as we prefer to assess artistic individuality. Performance and style are vital; all else follows.”

Of young composers, Matvey Mitkovets took first prize while Diana Basova came second, and third place was shared between Ksenia Minina and Adel Kharlanchuk-Yuzhakova. All presented their works at the House of Culture. According to jury member Alexander Timofeev, this is especially important. “We need to generate respect for young composers,” he comments. “The competition is great in uniting performance and composition. I hope other countries will turn to this promising format.”

In the ‘Composition’ nomination, jury members came on stage to present their own pieces. After the concert, everyone praised the acoustics at Drogichin’s House of Culture, which are acknowledged to surpass those of the Belarusian State Philharmonic. Being in the provinces does not equate to inferiority.

By Olga Korneeva
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