Magic of Music Still Going Strong

The RNO’s Magic of Music charitable project has been going strong for 23 years. Orchestra musicians put on concerts throughout the year for children from disadvantaged families, teachers and students at music schools, residents of orphanages and their schools, children with special needs, patients at children’s hospitals, veterans and retirees.

The goal of the project is to help children and adults see the world anew, find a path forward in life, and attain spiritual and physical harmony through the healing power of music. Sound can influence the body’s internal forces, improve one’s mood, enable healing and cleanse the soul.

During the two-decade-old program, the RNO and Chevron Neftegaz Inc. have collaborated on the music education project “Soloists of the RNO for Children and Youth.”  In 2019 the I.N. Voronina New Names Interregional Philanthropic Social Fund joined their ranks, with some of its scholarship recipients performing as soloists with the RNO.

A special concert, “Jolts of Joy and Happiness,” created by the RNO Percussion Ensemble, was prepared for the young attendees of concerts on April 22 and 23 at the Marina Tsvetayeva House Museum and the Hertzen Museum, respectively.

“The 7-8-year-old children were shown diverse percussion instruments by the top-flight musicians, who played for the youngsters and answered their questions. Ilya Melikhov gave the concert lecture… At the end of the concert, the most eager of the boys came forward to play alongside the pros, playing on a tambourine, a triangle, maracas… (Had you put me up there with a tambourine, I would have frozen in embarrassment.) Perhaps it is a good thing the young children did not yet grasp what the RNO was, [or they might have been scared at the prospect]… These kids will remember this unusual event their entire lives.”

– Natalia Zimyanina

Traditionally, the third concert in the annual series is a tribute to those who died during the Chernobyl tragedy. Thirty-three years have passed since this, one of the most horrific technogenic catastrophes in the history of humankind, the consequences of which can be felt to this day.

For many years, the RNO has put on a concert for family members of those who died as a result of Chernobyl, and this year it took place on April 24 in the Vrubel Hall of the Tretyakov State Gallery.

A chamber orchestra – comprised of soloists of the RNO and young, talented scholarship recipients of the Voronina New Names Fund: Yelizaveta Lenkina (flute), Roman Sher (piano), Andrei Guskov (cello), and Konstantin Kozyrev (bayan) – performed works by Bach, Haydn, Cimarosa, Mozart, Rossini, Gluck, Vivaldi, Paganini, Benda, Tsfassman, and Vlasov.

For the young musicians, it was an excellent opportunity to play alongside members of a professional orchestra. Surrounded by superb, mature musicians, and aided by the conductor and orchestra, these very young artists were not the least bit tense or stiff in their playing.

The evening began with a performance by nine-year-old pianist Roman Sher, who beautifully executed a Mozart rondo, even though he was a bit nervous before going out on stage.

Boy playing piano
Roman Sher performs.

“This is a famous, wonderful orchestra. I was a little bit scared, as if standing before some very large object, yet the orchestra was very much alive. Still, when I first met the conductor, I had the feeling that I had known him for 100 years. I had read plenty about this orchestra, but it was in boring books. You can’t learn about an orchestra without seeing it.”

– Roman Sher

The young flutist Yelizaveta Lenkina played a duet with RNO principal flutist Maxim Rubtsov.

“This was a very interesting, very productive task. I was of course very nervous; it was my first time playing with a top orchestra. But it was an incredible pleasure for me, and I felt immense satisfaction from the performance. We practiced a lot together, and I was very pleased that Maxim Rubtsov has such an emotional approach to music. I felt like a soloist of a different type – not separate or apart, but part of an unbelievable tandem. We got together to rehearse and it was not work, but serious, intense preparation for a specific date. Most importantly, it as an interesting, very informative interaction with adult professionals.” 

– Yelizaveta Lenkina

Two flutists perform.
Yelizaveta Lenkina and Maxim Rubtsov perform.

Alexei Sobolev, himself a past recipient of New Names scholarship, conducted the orchestra at the special charity concert. He was pleased to collaborate once again with his “creative alma mater” and to support his young colleagues.

“We are very grateful to the New Names fund. It is a very positive space – we played, we conversed, it was superb. There was an immediate connection with the young students, a desire to make music together, to collaborate. Our art form is unique in that we are learning all our lives. Musicians improve every single day. And of course, a person receives both a charge of energy and a joy from creativity through such interactions. I am very glad that I can help, can suggest something, can share something.”

– Alexei Sobolev

The series of charitable concerts “Soloists of the RNO for Children and Youth” is sponsored by Chevron Neftegaz, which, in addition to doing business in Russia, sponsors a number of projects and charity concerts.

What They’re Saying

"The Russian National Orchestra has to count as a major miracle."

Time Out New York