By Juli Goetz Morser
For Vashon Center for the Arts
How did Vashon get so lucky?
Internationally acclaimed and Vashon beloved virtuoso classical pianist, Vyacheslav “Slava” Gryaznov, will perform his first live concert in the United States since the onset of COVID at 7 p.m. Friday, April 30, at Vashon Center for the Arts.
Gryaznov, who is renowned for his musical transcription of classical works for solo piano, first played his island debut in 2019, having been invited by local musicologist, Michael Tracy. That performance began a growing friendship between Gryaznov and VCA, which has brought the musician back for his third concert in Kay Hall.
“I like everything about Vashon,” Gryaznov said. “The people who are working hard to make the world better, an educated and attentive audience, a quite special concert space and a coffee shop right across the street — what more could I wish for?”
At the concert, Gryaznov will play excerpts from a new album of his Western Transcriptions, including “Isle of Joy” by Claude Debussy, as well as several pieces by Russian composers. He will also hold a master class for three young pianists.
Gryaznov studied at the Moscow State Conservatory for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and earned the Yale School of Music’s Artist Diploma in 2018. He is on the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory’s piano department; the author of more than 30 concert arrangements; and has performed at Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall and many other prestigious international venues.
The master class opportunity came about through the efforts of VCA patrons Mary and Whit Carhart. After seeing the delight on the face of a young Vashon High School piano student whom they had invited to a small piano concert by Gryaznov when he first came to Vashon, the couple wondered how other piano students might have the opportunity to connect with the maestro.
Mary reached out to island pianist and teacher Christopher Overstreet, who suggested a master class, during which three of his students would play a prepared piece of music and receive a personal lesson on the stage from Gryaznov. Gryaznov readily agreed to the idea.
“A master class is a subject I would never say no to,” he said. “To share what I know is a necessary part of my life. Not only through music but via direct communication with anyone who is willing to explore.”
Overstreet’s students — Lisee Crayton, Benjamín O’Conner and Florian Belshaw — will play pieces by Maurice Ravel, Franz Schubert and Frédéric Chopin.
“We have worked really hard,” Overstreet said, “and it will be nice to get the help, tools and inspiration to take everything to a new level. I am excited to learn as well and to witness him as a teacher. Slava is a true master of the piano.”
In addition to the performance in Kay Hall, VCA will live-stream the event as seating will be limited due to strict Covid protocol being followed to ensure everyone’s safety. For tickets, which much be purchased 24 hours in advance, visit vashoncenterforthearts.org.