[b]It’s no secret that many major public initiatives are carefully staged each year. One such is the Union State to Young Talents of the 21st Century event, annually held in Moscow at the Central Music School of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatoire. It offers master classes to up and coming musicians and artists [/b]Candidates are sent by the International Cultural Centre (Moscow) and the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. Minsk’s Department for Supporting and Developing Cultural and Educational Initiatives oversees visits from Belarus. Victoria Ignatenko, Olga Massalova, Yelena Bubnova and Olga Kostyukevich are the four staff members in charge. Speaking to them, we discover what makes a true genius; is creative tension needed to gain success? The women also tell us about the department’s plans for the future and their life philosophy.What do we need to be happy? Various components seem necessary but a satisfying work life, regardless of your professional sphere, seems universal. Those who excel in their job are like musicians playing a perfectly tuned instrument with skilful hands and fascinated heart.
Candidates are sent by the International Cultural Centre (Moscow) and the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. Minsk’s Department for Supporting and Developing Cultural and Educational Initiatives oversees visits from Belarus. Victoria Ignatenko, Olga Massalova, Yelena Bubnova and Olga Kostyukevich are the four staff members in charge. Speaking to them, we discover what makes a true genius; is creative tension needed to gain success? The women also tell us about the department’s plans for the future and their life philosophy.
What do we need to be happy? Various components seem necessary but a satisfying work life, regardless of your professional sphere, seems universal. Those who excel in their job are like musicians playing a perfectly tuned instrument with skilful hands and fascinated heart.
As these elegant office women tell me about this year’s master classes, I can’t help but notice their dedication and passion for their jobs. Their enthusiasm must come from deep within. It makes one realise that we strive for creative self-expression from our earliest years. These young women see daily proof of this, working with talented artists and musicians. They understand that only those who achieve tangible results can be satisfied and that only those who search constantly for new forms of expression are artistically happy. This is why this year’s classes are focusing particularly on teachers; they need to be inspired and up to date themselves to pass this motivation on to their students.
“We never stop learning; our lives are a constant process of improving our skills and knowledge,” stresses Departmental Head Victoria Ignatenko. “If we no longer yearn to learn something new (in our jobs or private lives), we become stale and uninteresting. Music teachers and artists deal with unusual children, who often dare to ask bold or perplexing questions. If they fail to answer, they lose authority among this ‘golden’ fund of our country. I’m sure that, soon, these youngsters will be showing Belarusian culture and art to the entire world.”
The creative four are helping teachers countrywide to master new teaching methods, with famous musicians and professors from the Russian Central Music School offering their advice. By sharing experience during open lessons and round tables, everyone can benefit. Similar round tables are being held at Minsk’s Academy of Arts.
“Russian teachers joined those from various Belarusian regions, alongside Russian and Belarusian children, in listening to a lecture on composing by Mikhail Borozna, the Prorector of the Academy of Arts, and honoured member of the Russian Academy of Arts,” explains Olga Massalova. Mr. Borozna, together with a professor from the Drawing Department of the well-known Stroganov Arts School, Andrey Rodionov, has conducted master classes in 2010. The girls confess their pride in the Belarusian artist and teacher being so creative. Mr. Borozna believes that composing is simply another way of thinking, and must be well ordered. The concentration required seems immense.
Victoria recalls, “I was impressed by Mr. Borozna’s explanations to Russian journalists about a trip made by artists to Tsaritsino and Kolomenskoe - famous for their architectural monuments and stunning scenery. Our people attended an open air workshop there, painting their interpretation of the harmony between architecture and our natural environment. He noted that we were meeting ‘world heritage’; I realised that these master classes are always a meeting with world heritage.”
Victoria, mother to three talented daughters, also realised that ‘all young artists are geniuses at drawing’. Mr. Borozna is known for constant self-improvement and seems to embody the idea that, to be a good teacher, we must never stop learning ourselves. As a former Pantomime Theatre actress and theatre critic, Victoria has been brave enough to change her profession. Several years ago, she had no idea how she’d master an absolutely new job. However, she succeeded, discovering organisational skills she was unaware of. Her job involves great responsibility – since she is effectively guarding the next generation of talent. Her electronic database contains 1,879 entries; 94 percent are talented young people and the rest are creative companies. Every year, the database grows larger, perhaps indicating our rising standard of living.
Victoria is already planning next year’s master classes but is wary of tempting fate by disclosing the details of the future ‘dialogue of young musicians with artists’. However, out of the corner of my eye, I notice that junior specialist Olga Kostyukevich is impatient to clarify some details. Victoria introduces her colleague, saying, “While Olga Massalova is an artist by education (formerly the main curator of young artists on our trip), Olga Kostyukevich is a graduate of the Culture University and deals directly with social and cultural activities. She is good at presenting concerts, as she did successfully in Moscow. For two days, she charmingly introduced the trumpet, violin and French horn players, alongside other musicians during final concerts on the stage of the Central Music School.”
Mikhail Finberg, a People’s Artist of Belarus and Head of the National Concert Orchestra, recently invited Ms. Kostyukevich to audition as his stage presenter; she successfully passed the casting but decided against joining the famous company. It seems silly to have refused such an attractive and prestigious offer but Olga smiles, “I’m also studying for a Master’s Degree and am often busy in the evenings. Also, I love my job in the department; we have such a friendly atmosphere. Despite the fact that I’m the youngest, no one is ever condescending to me. I only ever receive support. I adore being part of this team.”
The four women are indeed a team, always helping each other. If they need to learn something, they learn! Even accountant Yelena Bubnova, with two degrees (in polytechnics and accounting) has mastered the art of photography since she joined the department. Her shots are to be included in a catalogue dedicated to this year’s master classes. As the saying goes, there is no limit to improvement; we only need the desire. It seems that this desire never ends at the Department for Supporting and Developing Cultural and Educational Initiatives.
By Valentina Zhdanovich