...Woody steep staircase of the majestic Polotsky Sofiysky Cathedral raised up over the Western Dvina vibrates in accordance with the growling sound of organ. I go upstairs and feel this vibration with my feet. Kseniya Pogorelaya is playing organ…
About ten years ago I stepped across the threshold of the Polotsky Sofiysky Cathedral and suddenly entered the world of organ music where this shy delicate woman ruled. She is the legend of the Polotsk and European “stars” and organ music admirers mention her name with great respect.
Unhurried walk to the Cathedral, mounting the music loft where the cathedral organ sees its dreams — this is an ordinary morning of this famous woman. She rehearses usually at dawn. The ancient Belarusian capital of Polotsk is a great Kseniya’s studio for twenty years. It is a place where she communicates with the world planning new tours and visits to organs in the basilicas in Europe looks for the rare score kept from the Middle Ages.
A musician who dedicates his or her life to the classical music rarely has continuing tours, staring music clips and rarely visits venues of the high society…The professional life of an organist is defined by the possibility to play an ancient instrument which he or she has been waiting for long years because in Europe there are vivid music personalities, too, who wait the possibility to touch organ in the church where Bach had played, for example…
Ksenya thinks that the organ in Sofiysky Cathedral is her fortune. After graduating from the Moscow Conservatory she was sent to Vladivostok. It was supposed that in the city will be constructed an organ in a little while. But her friend Viviana Sofronitskaya, the graduator of the Conservatory and the mistress of the organ in Polotsk, decided to continue her studying at the postgraduate studentship. She offered Kseniya to occupy this place. Kseniya was already married at that time. She visited the city with her husband and decided to stay. More than 20 years her own destiny and spiritual life of the city are combined and Polotsk proves its name of the cultural capital. Here work many artists and writers who create the unique atmosphere of the city. Kseniya’s children are grown-ups and well known among the young generation of the musicians. Their success is significant in music and the object of pride of their mother. Her daughter Yulya is a laureate of the great amount of musical competitions and son Arseniy does his studying in the music college in Novopolotsk and can play particularly every music instrument. By the way, he learns modern music for himself. He was a holder of the President Fellowship twice and one of the most vivid expressions for him was playing of Prokofiev’s First Concert with the Symphonic Orchestra on the opening of the regular chamber, classical and modern music festival took place in Sofiysky Cathedral. Kseniya Maksimovna didn’t see her son playing because she was in the jury at the young organists’ competition in Petersburg but she was very glad because she had a chance to play with the Symphonic Orchestra when she was 47 years old and her son had it when he was 17.
We believe sometimes that the life of a “star” is inseparable from the big city. But Kseniya is glad namely organ in Polotsk and not in Minsk became her fortune.
“It is easier to work, learn and improve ones knowledge in a small calm city. Interrelation with the world, especially the world of music, depends only on musician’s ambitions. After graduating from the Conservatory I had many master classes especially in Europe where the organ music culture is on a firm ground and has a long history. I got not only working experience but many friends, too. They help me to plan my concerts, international competitions and festivals abroad. It is me who decide which course of work I will follow and choose works I want to play. In Germany I played many old organs and the so-called “old” music interested me a lot. I like music of compositors who lived before Johan Sebastian Bach. I like Bach’s music, too, and I agree with those who said he was the “music prophet”. I’ve been playing his music for many years and every time I still open something new in his works. They are like a Bible where one reads the same words but understands them differently every time.
It is very important to play Bach and other great musicians on the ancient instruments. I think than only those organs which were constructed specially for the composers can bring life into their works. That is why seeing such an instrument I feel excitement. Can you imagine three ancient organs in a vast basilica in Ottobrunn, one of them was constructed by Riepp in 1756. To play and to hear such instruments is a great pleasure. For example, there are every week concerts in the friary in Ottobrunn during the tourist season”.
In the near future Kseniya Pogorelaya plans to play ancient organs in Spain which differ from organs in Austria and Switzerland where she has played many times. Besides, she would like to play organs in England. Kseniya likes new instruments, too. Recently she has played in Basel on the Matis’es organ who had won a tender to construct organ in Vatican.
“I also like romantic music of Frank, List and Mendelssohn. It is highly emotive and the organ in Polotsk opens a wide range of colors in it. I like to play modern organ music. It is not bound by cannon and organist can play it easy end even free in some way. I mean music written by Anna Korotkina and Aleksandr Litvinovsky. Some Belarusian composers write music especially for my organ. Taking part in the festivals I usually play Belarusian music or interpretation of the Russian one. It is a discovery for Europeans because they have rare opportunities to hear our music as I have rare opportunity to find ancient music.
…Tourists visit Polotsky Sofiysky Cathedral since middle spring till late winter. Kseniya’s concerts are included into a visiting program. Sometimes she gave concerts three or four times per day. Is it difficult for a creative person to play the same program every day?
“I know some musicians who think that audience is not important in comparison with creative activity. They say something like that:”I don’t care what the audience like, I will play my favorite works.” Positive impressions of people are very important for me, I feel their energy sitting on the organ-loft. It is very important that ordinary person who has never heard organ music understood that it would be easy to live keeping music in his heart. That is why I include in the program famous and simple repertory in order my audience will understand more complicated work. Because listening to the music a person opens something new in himself sometimes. It is very well if he relaxed listening to the music. A woman who has heard organ for the first time was amazed greatly and said to the cathedral servants that the music remained her childhood fillings, she remembered the village and her mother who was busy about the house…”