December 17, 2018

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill 

This holiday season in addition to many blessings in my life, I celebrate a realization that if Americans have given voluntarily 410 billion to nonprofits in 2017 while involuntarily spending 610 billion in taxes to support defense, it means that despite all of the polarization, we live in a country of fundamentally decent, generous people.

The disillusionment is easy in a complex and confusing world where sometimes environmental activists have their pension funds invested in oil companies while vegan paci...

January 18, 2018

It has occurred to me recently that arts nonprofits and politicians have something in common. They share decreasing audience and over-reliance on a shrinking pool of donors. Perhaps participation decline in live performing arts events and in political process shares some causes. I wonder if the time people used to spend on attending a concert, a play or considering political platform of a candidate is now spent on social media, surfing internet and binge watching TV.


This abdication of personal agency leaves a dangerous vacuum where perhaps few people than ever in history will be able to exerc...

October 3, 2016

Confirmation Bias

I’ve had a very interesting few weeks performing and presenting very different music to very different audiences.

Participating in a 9/11 Memorial concert, performing for a couple of very different chamber music series and presenting an early music ensemble at the opening of another made me realize just how much context matters to people’s ability to engage in meaningful ways with music. I love talking to people, and it is fascinating how a complex Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion presented in a 9/11 Memorial concert can genuinely move people, who would otherwise nev...

April 8, 2015

I have been asked a lot lately about my view on the recent Toronto Symphony and Valentina Lisitsa situation probably because I was born in Ukraine, lived in Moscow for a while and I am both performer and presenter.  Here are a few questions that this situation raises for me:

 

1.       What are the rights and responsibilities of artists when it comes to handling a substantial emotional attachment of their fans? Is it fair for a charismatic performer to exploit openness and vulnerability of a fan to advance a personal agenda? Are they free to use that emotional attachment to endorse pro...

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