DISCOVERING world-class pianists | meet Nikita Mndoyants
Heir to a familial Russian musical tradition, pianist Nikita Mndoyants (Mn-DOY-ants) has found much success in America—including first prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2016. Through a partnership with the American Pianists Awards, we are pleased to have Nikita launch the 2017-2018 season of Grand Encounters with a solo recital in Indianapolis we are calling “From Cleveland with Love.” Following are a few things we have discovered about our new musical comrade.
Coming from a family of professional musicians, Nikita Mndoyants began to play piano and compose music at a very young age. He entered the Central Music School in Moscow, where he studied piano with Tamara Koloss. He gave his first public recital at age eight, and recorded his first CD (of a live performance in Helsinki) at age ten.
Nikita’s father is the well-known teacher Alexander Mndoyants, a top Soviet prizewinner of the 1970s. Nikita received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow, where he studied composition with Professor Alexander Tchaikovsky and piano with Professor Nikolay Petrov and his father, Professor Mndoyants. In 2013, he was a finalist at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition—36 years after his father was awarded fifth place in the same competition.
Nikita discussed his parents’ influence in an interview during the Cliburn in 2013:
“My parents are both musicians. My father teaches at the Moscow Conservatory, and in general, he was my main teacher in the beginning. My mother is also a pianist, so my connection to music has deep roots. My father has helped me always during my musical education,” says Nikita, who adds that his father’s “wise advices” come in both musical and non-musical form. “At various times I still ask him to make some final suggestions in my playing.”
Father and son shared the stage, playing Schubert's Fantasia in F-minor for piano four hands, D.940, at the Festival Wissembourg in the French region of Alsace in 2014:
Nikita is also a practicing composer. He released two CDs of his own compositions in 2007 and was the resident composer at the Festival Wissembourg in 2012.
“For me, it is very important to find ways to touch the listener,” he told TheaterJones. “I think composers must try new features, sound combinations or techniques that will keep the attention of an audience. But on the other hand, a composer should be connected with tradition, and with the spirit of culture in his native country.”
Nikita received first prize at the 2014 Myaskovsky International Competition of Composers (Moscow, Russia) and 2016 Prokofiev International Competition of Composers (Sochi, Russia). He will perform his own Variations on a Theme by Paganini in his Indianapolis debut.
Since 2013, he has taught orchestration at the Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. Nikolai Rubinstein and Prince Nikolai Troubetzkoy co-founded the school in 1866 as the Moscow Imperial Conservatory. It is the second oldest conservatory in Russia after the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was appointed professor of theory and harmony at its opening, and the conservatory took on his name in 1940. Nikita balances the demands of performing and teaching: “I have not many students, but I also can work with them remotely—by email, for example. They send me their works, and I comment. However, I prefer personal contact”
Other interests include jazz, long-distance walking or bicycling and authors from Bulgakov to Dostoyevsky to Thomas Mann. He is also enjoying traveling to perform: “I like any place where I can share beautiful music. I love to talk with interesting people [in new places] who can share their experiences. I have started to explore the USA and like it very much. I also very much like the halls in Moscow and St. Petersburg.”
Asked for comments on his upcoming program, Nikita sent the following note to the audience:
The program will include two of my favorite composers: Beethoven and Prokofiev. Beethoven’s Bagatelles is really remarkable music very close to his late quartets. And Prokofiev Sonata No. 8 is very deep and important music that reflects the horrors of WWII. Also, I put my own piece since I am composer. Finally, a wonderful transcription by Liszt of the Tannhäuser Overture by Wagner! I am looking forward to share this music with you!
(2013 American Pianists Awards winner Sean Chen wrote about the Liszt transcription in a guest blog post)
Here is Nikita performing Beethoven's Six Bagatelles, Op. 126, and Prokofiev Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, Op. 84, on April 30, 2017 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center:
In Indianapolis, there will be both a pre-concert talk and post-concert reception to give attendees additional opportunity to get to know this talented pianist and composer. In the interim, here is one more video--the Final Round Concerto of the 2016 Cleveland International Piano Competition, with Nikita performing Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 with the Cleveland Orchestra: