Acclaimed pianist to perform at the Opera House

By Howell Dennis

NEWS EDITOR

CROWLEY – Acclaimed pianist Vladimir Zaitsev will be bringing his unique style of entertainment to the Grand Opera House of the South in Crowley tonight.

Kim Gielen Gattle, the opera house’s executive director is looking forward to his performance.

“We’re extremely pleased to be having Vladimir here Tuesday,” she said from her office Monday morning. “When most people think of a pianist performing they think of something formal, but he is lighthearted, funny and very knowledgeable. For example, he will take a song from an old composer and say ‘this is how the Beatles would play it’. He is interactive and at times very comical.”

Vladimir Zaitsev was born in Kiev, USSR. He started playing the violin at the age of four and switched to piano when he was six. His mother, an actress and a singer, was extremely influential to his development and he earned himself the nickname of “a backstage kid” among his mother’s theatre colleagues. He also developed a passion for championship figure skating. Often, instead of showing up for a piano lesson, he would sneak away to an ice-ring to practice for one of the upcoming championships. By the time he was fifteen, Vladimir was involved in every high school production for which he was often the writer, stage and music director, stage designer, choreographer and the leading star. At the age of sixteen, he made one of life’s many difficult choices - he turned down an offer to join the Ukrainian Ballet on Ice Company and instead entered Kosenko Music College where he studied piano with Irina Ocheretianaya. Two years later, after a successful audition for the musical comedy department of the Leningrad Institute of Theatrical Arts, he was ready to abandon his piano studies for the possibility of an acting career but was persuaded by his piano teacher to reconsider his decision. A victory at the All-Ukranian Piano Competition at Kiev Conservatory re-enforced his decision to stick with piano. Upon graduating with highest honors from the musical college, he immigrated to the United States where he entered Mannes College of Music as a piano student of the acclaimed Nadia Reisenberg. Upon graduating, he continued his piano studies with Alexander Eydelman in New York City.

Among the awards Vladimir has received are the Julius Katchen Memorial Award, first prize in the Five Towns Music and Arts Foundation Piano Competition, and first prize in the Liederkranz Foundation Piano Competition.

During his classical piano career, he never lost interest in expressing himself as a versatile entertainer. During the past twenty years, he’s entertained in a variety of nightclubs, community organizations, hotels and resorts throughout the country.

“This is a performance to bring the entire family to,” said Gielen-Gattle. “He is not your typical pianist, simply a wonderful entertainer.”

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