The Theme & Variations Foundation’s main fundraising event took a different direction this year when our ambassador, Alexander Gavrylyuk, conducted a master class with two promising young Sydney student pianists, Jake Cheong and Leanne Jin.
Held in the Theme and Variations Piano Services Willoughby showroom on 27 November, it attracted an audience interested to hear the technical and interpretive skills that divide good performers from great performers.
Both students played Prokofiev, a composer favoured by Alexander in his repertoire and instinctively felt by him on a cultural level. While millions of people have heard Alexander play (always to rave reviews, these days) few would have witnessed his ability as a teacher and communicator. He combined humour, kindness, and a wealth of musical advice to the two students as he commented on their playing, often demonstrating his points with his own playing. It was here that the unspoken difference between ‘on the way’ and ‘arrived’ came through. These two students were leaders among the emerging crop of young Sydney classical pianists, both having won significant recent competitions and awards. While they played their chosen Prokofiev works admirably, the passages Alexander replayed for demonstration came from another dimension. His technique was simply astonishing to say nothing of his powers of interpretation.
We live in a world of achievement ladders, acknowledging the rungs above us and often aspiring to reach them. It was never more clearly demonstrated than in this master class. So many of us in the audience would have loved to play as well as Jake and Leanne. But above them, virtually as high as you can go, sits Alexander Gavrylyuk.