That’s how I would call my encounter with pianist and composer Vladimir Romanov who I have heard nothing about until recently. It all began with a surprise phone call from a stranger who introduced himself as Peter Weekes. He and his wife Gina Sanders asked me to help them to spread the word about Vladimir’s concert within our community. I was certainly happy to help. The concert was held in Auckland in September under the title Music in the North, East, West and South. What a fantastic and enjoyable night it was, presenting me with a chance to meet the performers and organisers, in person.
I must say that the concert fully earned its title as all the musicians and performers originally came from different parts of the world. Many of them now live in New Zealand, including soprano Gina Sanders, who is well known in the music world and was the main concert organiser; Dr Lara Hall, a superb violin soloist; Chris Artley, a New Zealand-based composer and multifaceted musician from the UK who now works at King’s College in Auckland; and finally Vladimir Romanov, a remarkable Russian-born musician who now lives in Germany. A Google search for Vladimir’s name returned with an impressive result. After graduating from Moscow Conservatory, Vladimir actively and successfully performed at many famous European venues as a pianist, and as a composer collaborated with various musical groups and opera houses. He composes music in different genres: opera and musicals, symphonic and church music. Winner of prestigious awards, his music is popular amongst well-known performers and orchestras.
The concert was held at St Benedict’s Church where I also met Olga Tarasenko, musician and director of the Our Home Cultural Centre. She had not heard about Vladimir Romanov either and was very excited about an introduction to his music.
The concert celebrated music of two brilliant contemporary classical composers. The first half featured choral works for soloists, choir, organ and various solo instruments by Chris Artley, while the second half was entirely devoted to Stabat Mater written by Vladimir Romanov in 2013. Both composers deserve our attention, although in this instance we would like to focus more on Romanov’s Stabat Mater.
It has to be said that the Southern Hemisphere premiere was a complete success! The powerful sound of music, exploring deep and diverse emotion transported us from one state to another: from deep despair to radiant hope, from liberation to hopelessness … Soloists Gina Sanders (soprano) and Lara Hall (violin) were very convincing and skilful in delivering the expressive side of the performance. Their interwoven duet, merging and complementing each other on the one hand, and full of detachment and contradiction on the other hand, demonstrated how deeply they “interpreted” the underlying meaning of this musical dialogue – the endless and unbearable pain of the mother expressed by the solo violin, and strength and celebration of the victory of Spirit and Faith delivered by the vocals. It felt like their interaction was guided by the music flow immersing us into the depth of this experience.
As Vladimir Romanov was sitting in the auditorium listening to his music together with his wife Elena Konson, we could occasionally catch a glimpse of their reaction. While both of them looked excited, sometimes tension and intensity could be read in their gazes. Nonetheless Vladimir seemed to like what he was hearing…