RNO Musicians Teach at Iowa Residency

  • Mar 15, 2019

On Sunday, February 24, the University of Iowa School of Music welcomed six Russian National Orchestra musicians to campus for a series of programs facilitating dialogue and exchange among the Russian musicians and approximately one hundred University professors, students, and members of the greater Iowa City community. The day unfolded in a series of master classes taught by six principal players of the RNO--Principal Flute Maxim Rubtsov, Concertmaster Alexei Bruni, violist Ksenia Zhuleva, Principal Trumpet Vladislav Lavrik, Tubist Dmitri Anakovskiy, and Associate Principal Percussionist Ilya Melikhov. 



The teaching day followed an RNO concert on February 23 in the University’s Hancher Auditorium, a state-of-the-art concert venue that seats 1,800. The RNO performed an all-Russian program conducted by Maestro Mikhail Pletnev with American piano soloist George Li.


For the RNO, this was a first visit to Iowa, despite touring the United States more than a dozen times in the orchestra’s twenty-five-year history.


By all measures, the Iowa teaching day was a resounding success.


[The sessions] were exceptional across the board. The faculty were very, very pleased; the students were delightful, engaged and courageous; and the RNO musicians were personable, professional, enthusiastic and inspiring. Also, I feel that the RNO musicians had quality additional time with the [University of Iowa] School of Music faculty for conversation and camaraderie.

– Paul Brohan, Programming Director of Hancher Auditorium

One flute student, after concluding a master class session with the RNO’s principal flutist Maxim Rubstov, told a member of the faculty, "That was awesome! Best day ever." So enthused were the flute students that they urged Maxim to pose with them for a group photo.

Maxim Rubtsov and students

Maxim Rubtsov (center, in white) poses with his flute master class.


They have a great building for making perfect music with great acoustics. The flute professor Nicole Esposito was extremely professional, and all her students were in the audience. Everyone who played in the masterclass performed well and was responsive to my teaching.

– Flutist Maxim Rubtsov

By the end of the day, the musicians and faculty members had formed close friendships that they expect will be enduring. After the formal programming had concluded, violin Professor Scott Conklin accompanied violist Ksenia Zhuleva and violinist Alexei Bruni to a nearby shopping mall so that they could purchase gifts for their families in Russia. Prof. Conklin and Prof. Nicole Esposito later joined percussionist Ilya Melikhov, trumpeter Vlad Lavrik, and tuba player Dmitri Anakovsky for dinner at a favorite restaurant of the University of Iowa faculty. When the musicians realized there were no taxis nearby, Prof. Conklin stepped in to give them rides back to their hotel, making two round trips to do so.


In today’s political climate, an experience like this one is more important than ever. With their warmth and eagerness to engage with the Iowa City community, the RNO musicians showed us that the simple act of humans connecting through music is truly transcendent. I am honored to call them my friends and can’t wait to welcome them back someday soon.

– Professor Scott Conklin

Melikhov and students

Ilya Melikhov (fourth from left) poses with his master class.

Ilya Melikhov (above, fourth from left) later led a two-hour master class for eleven students of Dr. Dan Moore, an internationally renowned musician, composer, and professor of music.

The students embraced the opportunity to draw upon Mr. Melikhov’s expertise and were particularly enthusiastic to learn percussion excerpts from various works of composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Hancher Auditorium and the University of Iowa School of Music are thankful for Mr. Melikhov’s presentation and his generosity and eagerness in sharing his artistry with our students.

– Paul Brohan, Programming Director of Hancher Auditorium


What They’re Saying

"Like everything else about how Pletnev runs this orchestra, he takes nothing for granted... And also like everything else about this remarkable organization, he makes it seem not just new but newly worthwhile."

Los Angeles Times