This Thursday the 27th of May, acclaimed Ukranian pianist Vadym Kholodenko shall be joining the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO). In addition to their collaboration with Kholodenko performing Alexey Shor's 'From my bookshelf', the MPO, under the baton of renowned Principal Conductor Sergey Smbatyan, shall also be interpreting a number of iconic music pieces from a variety of Maltese and European composers, including Giacomo Puccini’s Preludio Sinfonico, Charles Camilleri’s Court Dances, and Joseph Vella’s Jubilo Overture. The performances for this concert shall all be taking place at the resplendent Grand Master’s suite at the Hilton hotel in St Julian’s, with the concert itself forming part of the Malta International Music Festival 2021.
Born to a family of musicians, Sergey’s journey in the world of classical music started with violin studies first with his grandmother Tatiana Hayrapetyan, followed by the classes with violinists Bagrat Vardanyan, Zakhar Bron and Yuri Davtyan. A graduate of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Smbatyan also graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2012. He also holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Institute of Arts, a division of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.
The conservatory undergraduate Sergey Smbatyan lay the foundation of the future Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in 2005, assembling like-minded young fellows into a youth orchestra that would champion classical music in Armenia and promote Armenian musical heritage worldwide. The future achievements awaiting the orchestra along its journey proved the visceral faith of its founder to be an infallible foresight. Throughout the 2020 concert tour with the renowned violin virtuoso and the orchestra’s artist-in-residence Maxim Vengerov brilliant performances were hosted on reputable stages around Europe - Berliner Philharmonie, Vienna's Musikverein, London's Barbican Center, Prague's Dvorak Hall, Salzburg's Grosses Festspielhaus, Moscow's Zaryadye Concert Hall and elsewhere.
Sergey Smbatyan also holds a rich record of conducting experience with foreign orchestras, including, among many others, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. A significant highlight in his international conducting career was the 2019 invitation he received to lead the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as its Principal Conductor. Prior to this commitment too, the collaboration with the MPO had long been harvesting remarkable success throughout the MPO’s concert tours across the world - from Vienna’s Musikverein to New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Among Sergey Smbatyan’s most cherished and sustainable legacies of are his self-founded 4 music festivals (Armenian Composing Art Festival, Khachaturian International Festival, “Armenia” International Music Festival and “Contemporary Classics” Composers’ Festival), as well as the introduction of “Conducting” category in the annual Khachaturian International Competition, which is a member of the prestigious World Federation of International Musical Competitions (WFIMC). Other valuable enterprises include 5 exclusive orchestras formed in the framework of significant events, 7 special musical projects and concert series and 7 educational projects, the most massive and impactful of the letter being “DasA” (literally- “ClassA), launched in 2018. Targeting high school students in Armenia, this project’s mission focuses on the popularization of classical music and positive transformation in the young generation’s attitude towards classical music.
By virtue of his relentless and creative outlooks, Smbatyan always pursues new dimensions for innovative artistry and embarks on novel initiatives in the Armenian cultural context. In the framework of the “WCIT 2019”, the largest IT Congress for innovators and entrepreneurs hosted in 2019 by Armenia, an orchestra of 100 musicians from fifteen countries assembled under the Smbatyan’s baton to play the first ever AI real-time-composed music at the opening ceremony of the event as a symbolic demonstration of the ever-growing prospect of dialogue between traditional classical music performance and the technological advancements of the new era.
In 2015, Sergey Smbatyan received the title of Chevalier of the “Order of Arts and Letters”, awarded by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France. In 2017, the honorary title of “Worker in Arts of Armenia” was conferred on him for the great merit in rearing of creative generation. In 2019, a documentary was released by Mezzo TV, featuring Sergey Smbatyan and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.
“The conductor led the orchestra with an uncommon attention to detail, skillfully guiding the musicians through the whole performance. His hands were clear and precise; this was a performance of great dignity and nobility.
A highly successful and passionate performance!”.
Hessisch Niedersächsische Allgemeine
In North America Kholodenko has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony Orchestras, and toured with the Staatskapelle Weimar under Kirill Karabits. He has given recitals throughout the United States including in New York, Washington and Boston and at the Aspen Music Festival.
His 2017 London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra resulted in an immediate re-invitation whilst elsewhere in Europe he has recently worked with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitane, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Prague Symphony Orchestra, RTVE Symphony Orchestra in Madrid and Orquesta Nacional de España. He has recently given solo recitals at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Wigmore Hall and LSO St Lukes in London, Liszt Academy Budapest, Radio France in Paris, Lucerne and at the SWR Schwetzignen Festspiele, La Roque d’Anthéron and Chopin Festival in Warsaw. A committed chamber musician he enjoys performing at the Spectrum Concerts series in Berlin and has collaborated with Vadim Repin, Clara-Jumi Kang, Alena Baeva, Maxim Rysanov and cellist Alexander Buzlov.
Kholodenko is a regular visitor to Japan and has performed with the Japan Philharmonic and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras and last season toured the country with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Malaysian Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and given recitals throughout Japan as well as in Beijing and Singapore.
Highlights of the 2019/20 season include performances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Søndergård, NCPA Orchestra/Chung, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Bournemouth Symphony/Ion Marin and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Louis Langrée whilst in recital he opens the inaugural Jacques Samuel Piano Series and performs in New York, Bilbao, Lucerne, Paris and Moscow.
Kholodenko’s recordings for Harmonia Mundi include the Grieg Piano Concerto and Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No 2 which was awarded Editor’s Choice in Gramophone “a truly outstanding recording” and the complete cycle of Prokofiev Piano Concertos. His most recent release, solo works by Scriabin received a Diapason d’Or de l’année whilst future plans include solo discs of works by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. For Arthaus he recorded Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 5 with the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Gergiev, released on DVD.
Vadym Kholodenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine and gave his first concerts at the age of 13 in the USA, China, Hungary and Croatia. He studied at the Moscow State Conservatoire under renowned teacher, Professor Vera Gornostaeva.
Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
Joseph Sammut, the C-in-C’s last conductor, was the orchestra’s first conductor, remaining at the helm until 1992. Since then, the orchestra has also been under the direction of Joseph Vella, Michael Laus, and Brian Schembri.
This season, the MPO has appointed Raoul Lay as its Artistic Director, together with Sergey Smbatyan as Principal Conductor and Michael Laus as Resident Conductor. The MPO also works with local and international guest conductors and soloists including Lawrence Renes, Michalis Economou, Guy Braunstein and Enrico Dindo.
As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature.
The orchestra has performed in leading venues across the globe, including in the USA, Russia, Germany, Austria, China, Italy, and Belgium. Presently it embarks on at least one international tour each concert season.
The MPO is a keen exponent of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and overseas, as well as frequently premiering and commissioning new compositions.
Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra, which itself regularly gives concerts around Malta, the MPO is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.
“From My Bookshelf”
Jubilo Overture Op. 47