"Music of the Continents" is the name of an international project in which Vladimir Gorbik, Russian conductor and Associate Professor of the Moscow State Conservatory, participates. On October 17th, 2021, Maestro Gorbik performed with the Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University. The concert program included a Russian symphonic program: Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Suite II from the music of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64 by Sergei Prokofiev and Three Russian Songs for chorus and orchestra, Op. 41 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The solo part in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto was performed inspiringly by the Italian virtuoso pianist Luigi Borzillo, an extraordinarily versatile musician whose fantastic performance intertwined the most diverse shades of emotion - from the finest melancholy and lyricism to passionate and pathos-laden monologues and the soulful experiences inherent in the music of this great Russian genius. The Southeast Kansas Symphony became a most worthy partner to the soloist, thanks to the intuitive charisma of Maestro Gorbik. He achieved wonderfully artistic results thanks to his exceptional expressiveness and integrity in his work with the orchestra.
Gorbik, together with the orchestra’s American musicians, achieved genuine tragedy and indomitable energy in the Second Suite from the music of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet. In each scene, that indestructible enthusiasm and energy, theatricality and picturesque characteristic of this great music was successfully delivered.
Three Russian Songs for choir and orchestra by Sergei Rachmaninoff is a work of impressive spiritual strength and tragedy. Each of the songs – ‘Across the River, the Swift River’
, ‘Ah, You, Vanka, You Devil-May-Care Fellow’, and ‘You, My Fairness, My Rosy Blush’ - contains many bitter moments and experiences which personally afflicted the heart of the composer. All three songs have close intonation ties with one another, akin to the origins of Russian folklore. Vladimir Gorbik achieved clarity and transparency of the sound of the voices of the choir, combined with the flexible and refined performance of the orchestra. In general, the conductor himself was very pleased with this project, which reinforced the cultural bridge between Russia and America that is so important in our difficult times.
Vladimir Gorbik: “During my master classes in Kansas last summer, when I went there to teach choir directors and singers of Orthodox Christian Church communities in America, I received an offer from Pittsburg State University, represented by the director of the orchestra, Raul A. Munguia, to conduct a joint project called “From Russia with Love”, to which I gladly agreed. How could we not perform in the heart of America, in Kansas, with such a wonderful program - the focus of the best pages of Russian symphonic music: the First Piano Concerto by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Second Suite from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev and Three Russian Songs for Chorus and Orchestra by Sergei Rachmaninoff?
The wonderful team of the Southeast Kansas Symphony, with whom I collaborated, has shown phenomenal results. I would very much like to thank Raul Munguia, the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Symphony and Associate Professor of the Pittsburg State University School of Conducting, for such a wonderful offer!
During the master classes with each of the students in the University's conducting department, we worked on conducting techniques. At first, I watch how each person works with the orchestra, what comments they make, and then I begin to work with them myself. By the way, our master class coincided with my active rehearsal preparation for this concert. It was very comfortable and pleasant for me to work with the orchestra. The musicians are all very deep, they worked very hard on each part of our program. It was good to work with the young pianist from Italy, Luigi Borzillo. He was extremely interested in learning and acquiring the Russian style of performance, especially as it applied to the Tchaikovsky selection we had. It was a joy for me to begin to teach him this style, and he wishes to come to Moscow to study this method further. This desire was, in fact, that of Maestro Munguia and of the entire Symphony.
The title of our concert "From Russia with Love" gives impetus to future concert projects with the same motto, in which Russian musicians will take part. I was also very impressed by the University’s beautiful new concert hall, built with the latest technology, somewhat reminiscent of the Zaryadye concert hall in Moscow.