Classical Music Examiners
"This brilliant pianist can create incredible excitement and knows how to please a crowd," reported The Washington Post when reviewing Alexander Peskanov’s Kennedy Center performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto. Mr. Peskanov’s American debut as orchestral soloist came with the National Symphony under Rostropovich, and he has since appeared internationally with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, as well as in the United States with the Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston, Utah, Richmond and Pacific Symphonies. He was also the featured soloist during the six-week tour of the Polish Chamber Orchestra, which included appearances at The Kennedy Center and Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Recently, Alexander Peskanov was featured in solo recital at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, as part of the series, “Russian Splendor.” He is a popular guest soloist with orchestras in South and Central America such as Bogota Philharmonic, Costa Rica National Symphony and Venezuela Symphony Orchestra.
In recent seasons, Mt. Peskanov was featured, as soloist in live televised broadcast performances of Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto with the Bogota Philharmonic, Brahms Concerto No. 1 with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, and Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra. Peskanov also performed Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 at Bargemusic with the Manhattan Symphony.
In the 2012-2013 season, Alexander Peskanov made a return engagement to Bargemusic in two solo recital performances of Fantasies by J.S. Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin and Peskanov and All Russian program. Another return engagement brought him back to the Atlantic Center in Melbourne, Florida, where he opened its Fifth Concert Season. Mr. Peskanov has made appearances with the Cali Philharmonic Orchestra in Columbia, South America, performing Brahms Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3. He has also traveled to Poland, where he performed Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra at the opening concert of the Third Sopot International Festival.
Mr. Peskanov has performed at the Wolf Trap, Aspen, Grant Park, Newport, Seattle, Vancouver, Canada, Monterrey, Mexico, Sarasota and Flagstaff festivals, and in coast-to-coast recitals including the prestigious Van Cliburn Foundation Series in Ft. Worth, Texas, and the Gina Bachauer Piano Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah. Among the illustrious musicians with whom he has collaborated are Maurice Andre, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Yo- Yo Ma.
Mr. Peskanov has been a frequent guest artist and clinician at numerous MTA Conventions. His appearances include New York, California, Maryland, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey and others. Peskanov was also a recitalist and lecturer at EPTA Conference in London. According to the European Piano Teachers Association Journal: “Some readers will remember Alek Peskanov’s impressive lecture/recital at the EPTA conference. Peskanov’s music is lighthearted and very much influenced by popular music of the 20th century. At the same time, the music is extremely pianistic and well written.” Mr. Peskanov has also presented workshops and master classes at many colleges and universities including University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, Rutgers University, Brigham Young University, Bob Jones University, Furman University, Eastern Tennessee University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Davidson College, Salem College, Boise State, Wheaton College, Kennesaw College, Western Carolina University, Tusculum College, etc. He has also served as juror on several prestigious piano competitions including the Gina Bachauer International Competition.
Alexander Peskanov is also a successful composer of classical works. He has written nine concertos for young pianists, the 1st being selected for the National Federation of Music Clubs’ 2007–-2017. The score and recording has been released by Hal Leonard Publications. Recently, Peskanov’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Strings has been broadcasted and performed by Viola Asoskova and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra on Estonian National Radio. The winners of Piano Competition in Maryland will premiere the latest Peskanov’s Concerto No. 9 in the fall of 2013. Mr. Peskanov’s "Concerto for Piano Quartet and Orchestra," commissioned by The American Piano Quartet, premiered in 1996 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. Alexander Peskanov is the recipient of three special ASCAP awards.
His recordings include a CD of his own piano compositions entitled "Spirits of the Wind – Peskanov Plays Peskanov" which has been featured in a satellite broadcast on National Public Radio stations. Other recordings include 14 Rags by Scott Joplin on Naxos Record’s American Classics series, Brahms Violin and Piano Sonatas (Recipient of Golden Ear Award), Mozart’s Concerto in E Flat Major, Liszt’s Malediction, Beethoven’s Concerto in G Major No. 4 and Morton Gould’s Concerto Concertante.
Mr. Peskanov graduated from the Stoliarsky School of Music in Odessa, Ukraine, and received his Masters and Bachelor degrees at The Juilliard School in New York. He is also the author of the series of six books entitled: "The Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano," published by the Willis Music.
"It's not an elegant phrase, but I will use it anyway: we were blown away! Peskanov's playing sweeps the listener along. His Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto had us breathing with every phrase, climbing the heights of every climax. If you ever get a chance to hear Peskanov perform Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude", we have one word of advice: "Go!""
- Clavier Magazine"This brilliant pianist can create incredible excitement and knows how to please a crowd. "
- The Washington Post"A powerful player with a temperament and virtuoso flair."
- The New York Times"...amazing technique... demonic energy..."
- The Los Angeles Times"His Mozart was marked by fleet finger work, crisp phrasing, and all manner of rhythmic and coloristic shading. Peskanov demonstrated he was master of virtuoso piano repertoire, as well in the Liszt Malediction."
- The Atlanta Journal"He is a romantic pianist in the best sense. A Liszt Concerto under his steely fingers is no mere recreation of a quaint 19th Century chestnut: it is an event. Peskanov has one of the biggest sounds since Emil Gilels."
- The Baltimore Sun"The performance was majestic, and perhaps it seemed all the more so because it had no false airs about it."
- The"St."Louis"Post!Dispatch"Dirigido espectacularmente por el estadounidense Carl St. Clair y beneficiado con la participación brillante del pianista ruso Alexánder Peskánov, el noveno concierto de la temporada oficial de la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional (OSN), realizado el viernes 30, en el Teatro Nacional (TN), constituyó una conmemoración digna de los aniversarios de dos compositores decimonónicos notables. El bicentenario del nacimiento del húngaro Franz Liszt (1811- 1886) se celebró con la candente interpretación de parte de Peskánov de su Concierto N° 1, en mi bemol mayor, para piano y orquesta, S. 124. Liszt también era un virtuoso formidable y la obra exige proezas técnicas del solista, junto a finura y sensibilidad. Peskánov mostró pericia digital en la nitidez de las escalas; sonido amplio en las octavas potentes y precisas; dominio dinámico en los matizados contrastes de timbre y volumen, a la vez que resaltó los aspectos cantábiles de la obra."
- La Nacion, Costa Rica"Peskanov gave a spectacular display of technical prowess and musical understanding in his performance of these works of heroic scale. "
- The Fort Worth Star Telegram"Alexander Peskanov unleashed explosions of virtuosity in a program that left no holds barred... a truly dizzying blast of keyboard fireworks that brought the audience to their feet. " "
- The Seattle Times"The fascination of Peskanov is that he is a complete pianist. A conspicuous feature of Russian pianists is a mastery of tonal color, and the tradition lives on in the work of Peskanov, for he played a program calling for a variety of dynamic approaches and met challenges magnificently."
- The The Sacramento Bee"Pianist Peskanov Fires Up the Keys in Bachauer Recital " "
- Salt Lake TribuneTribute to the Masters: Six Original Pieces
Inspired by Timeless Composers
Alexander Peskanov writes beautifully in a wide variety of styles and moods; the pieces range from lyrical to upbeat to dynamic and impassioned. Each piece is full of interesting musical ideas and harmonies.
Musical Gallery, Book 1
A story accompanies each of the 10 solos in this collection as well as valuable practice tips that Peskanov directs towards teachers. The last piece, “Calliope” is a duet for teacher and student that will illicit smiles from the performers. Other pieces are “The Clock”, “Ukrainian Lullaby”, and “Cinderella’s Dream.” The composer gives a little story about the genesis of each of the compositions.
Musical Gallery, Book 2
Musical Gallery, Book 2 by Alexander Peskanov includes 10 modern pieces that will appeal to youngsters. Always interested in pedagogy, Peskanov, who authored The Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano, offers teaching opportunities with these well-structured compositions. At the beginning of each selection, he tells the story of the inspiration behind each piece and includes some practice tips. Some of the titles are “Rumanian Dance,” “Chromatic Blues,” “Mohican Ballade,” and “A Christmas Wish.”
- Clavier MagazineThe pianist turned composer with his “Spirits of the Wind,” “Lu Ann’s Waltz,” “Joker’s Waltz,” and his encores “Clouds” and “Perpetual Motion. ”Peskanov writes with a post-Rachmaninoffian flair. It took the audience no effort to identify with Peskanov's attractive composition style."
- Salt Lake TribuneGhost Story
Grace notes, sforzandos, accelerandos, pedal effects and extreme registers combine to paint a colorful aural image of spirits. “Ghost Story” is almost seven pages long, including a three page da capo, and may provide reading challenges for some students, as it is in C# minor with extra accidentals. Broken octaves in the right hand prefaced by grace notes and accompanied by rolled chords in the left hand that span a tenth lasts for one entire page of the piece. The remainder is highly patterned, and “Ghost Story” should be fun to play after initial reading challenges are mastered.
- Clavier MagazineSome readers will remember Alek Peskanov's impressive lecture/recital at the 1995 EPTA conference. Peskanov's music is lighthearted and very much influenced by popular music of the 20th century. This influence is most obvious in “My Baby’s Rag,” which is every beat a foot-tapping ragtime piece the title would lead you to expect. “Lu Ann’s Waltz,” is a gentle sentimental piece minus the usual bass note, chord left hand pattern, which would be too strident for this delicate melody. If you want a dreamy piece then you could float away on “Clouds” or close your eyes and listen to “Rain” as it drops in an insistent syncopated rhythm. “Russian Winter” is not a harsh or cold piece but perhaps reflects the stillness and silence the snow brings. The “Intermezzo” is a very beautiful and expressive piece whereas “Costa Rica” will have you counting like crazy as it switches back and forth from 10/8 to 8/8. I think that these pieces will be particularly appealing to teenagers in the later grades as they will satisfy the desire the student's often have to play something that is not Classical. At the same time, the music is extremely pianistic and well written."
- EPTA - European Piano Teachers Association JournalRussian Technical Regimen for the Piano
Alexander Peskanov has compiled a five volume compendium with separate Guide Book, entitled the Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano.
...these materials provide a fascinating insider's view into Russia's complex technical training system. " ...serious pianists and teachers would benefit from spending some time with these books.
Students learn to understand chord structure by moving through the regimen's chained harmonic progressions, which follows an intriguing logic. One of the regimen's chief values is its systematic progression through all keys with the most frequently occurring patterns in standard piano literature."
- Piano QuarterlyIn Search of Sound (Set of Three Instructional Videos) The Video is filmed coverage of the first Piano Olympics held in Kingsport, Tennessee. The focus on technique as a group pursuit, honored, as are other Olympics events, is an interesting concept that teachers will find carefully documented here. One sees a group of youngsters of all ages’ parade into the audition room, all wearing Piano Olympics T-shirts. Having prepared for the Olympics with the Piano Olympics Manual, each student performs steps of the regimen chosen at random. Students are cheered and applauded, as in a repertoire performance, and are given ratings that allow them to progress at their own rate through the entire regimen. Teachers will appreciate the manual, which, as a syllabus, does an excellent job of codifying fingerings, presents a gradual progression of exercise patterns and clearly defines technical goals. The manual makes no gestural suggestion, and merely outlines the format of piano Olympics events. There are evaluation sheets at each level so students can keep track of their technical accomplishments. The group participation and carefully delineated technical goals are sure to be effective motivators. The manual gives clear instructions for those who wish to organize their own technical Olympics events."
- Music Teacher, The Official Journal of MTNA
ABOUT PESKANOV'S PIANO OLYMPICS:
At the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1862, Leschetitzky introduced the technique of a relaxed, weight-produced sound which later became the foundation of the Russian piano school. This revolutionary approach changed the destiny of piano literature and paved the way for such giants as Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev. Peskanov believes that 21st century piano pedagogy must combine the performing element with a reflection of these great traditions of the past. “The inspiration of making music evolves from the realization of technical freedom.” I began to experiment with implementing the traditions of the Russian Piano School by creating a non-competitive event called the "Piano Olympics". This program is designed to measure each student's progress in musical skills. The students are evaluated in groups by participating teachers and a visiting artist (Piano Olympics consultant). According to the standards set forth in the “Piano Olympics manual,” they are judged in six categories: concentration, rhythm, tone quality, relaxed wrist action, articulation and correct fingering. In addition, a Piano Olympics consultant in master classes coaches students where they perform etudes and repertoire. The highlight of the Piano Olympics is the awards ceremony where the visiting artist, students and teachers join forces in performing a mini-recital and a marathon of scales. The students proudly demonstrate their accomplishments through polished performances of a variety of scales, arpeggios, chromatics and octaves. Through the Olympics, all the participants gain a sense of companionship and teamwork as they perform for each other. Teachers offer constructive comments and have the opportunity to express their ideas in a friendly atmosphere. And besides all this - it's fun!!
As a concert artist, I always wanted to meet my audiences "up close and personal" and the Piano Olympics has provided me with a great opportunity to make many friends across the country. In return, it has provided many students and teachers with the opportunity to observe how a concert artist prepares for a performance. Students are inspired as they watch how I warmup before playing Rachmaninoff or Prokofiev concertos. They're curious as to how I achieved such technical freedom and make difficult passages sound so easy! They realize that my practicing routine is reflected in the technical requirements that they prepare for the Piano Olympics. The students feel inspired to practice and meet the challenge to excel and rise to the next level. In addition, parents have a better appreciation of the efforts of the students and teachers. This creates bettereducated audiences for classical music in general!
Piano Olympics also provides me with the gratifying experience of sharing my compositions with teachers and students. It's wonderful to relate how my pieces were created and students have the unique opportunity to meet a living composer. I am able to express my thoughts on interpretation and style much like an "intimate portrait." These stories and ideas might even be passed on to future generations.
The first Piano Olympics was held in Kingsport, Tennessee in 1991. Since that time, the movement has spread across the country involving hundreds and hundreds of piano enthusiasts. I am very grateful for all the wonderful moments I have shared, and the hard work and dedication of so many! I am excited that this website will open the door into the world of Piano Olympics and create links between so many dedicated pianists! Please visit us often and share your comments and suggestions.
Dr. Boris Guslitser has established a reputation as a fine concert artist in Australia and the former USSR. He is a graduate of the Azerbajan State Conservatorium where he specialised in pianoforte performance and interpretation. After graduating from the Conservatorium, Dr Guslitser successfully competed for entry to the Concert Master’s Degree at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatorium in St. Petersburg where only three pianists are accepted annually. There he studied under the celebrated teacher Pavel Serebryakov and completed a Ph.D. in 1977.
He was a prize-winner in the USSR Competition (1972) and at the Liszt-Bartok International Piano Competition (Budapest, 1976)where he was described by French pianist and adjudicator Vlado Perlemuter as one of the outstanding pianists of his generation.
Dr. Guslitser subsequently held important posts as Lecturer in Piano at the St Petersburg Conservatory, the Baku (USSR) Conservatory and the Rubin Musical Academy (Tel-Aviv University, Israel). From 1979 to 1986, Dr Guslitser lived in Israel andperformed prolifically as a recital artist and as soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dr. Guslitser immigrated toAustralia in 1987. He continued his teaching career as Senior Lecturer in Piano at Geelong Grammar School, Kardinia International College and Mount Skopus College. He is well known on the Australian concert platform, giving recitals in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and numerouscountry centres. He has also recorded for the ABC. He founded and directed the Lira Sinfonia, with which he appeared as soloist in concertos by Tschaikovsky, Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin and Cesar Franck. In recent years, Dr.Guslitser has given solo concerts in the U.S.A. (including a recital at the John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. in 1999), Denmark, Czech Republic, Taiwan,Iceland and Japan.
Rimsky Korsakov Conservatorium, St. Petersburg
1975 - 1977
- Completed Ph.D. of Music under the supervision of professor P. Serebryakov.The Azerbaijan State Conservatory, Baku
1970 - 1975
- Masters in Piano Performance, Teaching and Accompaniment.The Special Music School at Azerbaijan State Conservatory, Baku
1959 - 1970
- Prize-winner in the Liszt-Bartok International Piano Competition1972
- Prize-winner in the USSR Competition
2001 - current
- Master classes in Denmark, Iceland, Prague, USA, Japan, Taiwan, Australia.1988 - 2001
- Geelong Grammar School – Senior Lecturer in piano.1996 - 1997
- Kardinia International College – Senior Lecturer in piano.1994 - 1996
- Director and founder of Lira Symphony Orchestra.1988 - 1990
- Mount Skopus College – Senior Lecturer in piano.1977 - 1979
- Baku (USSR) State Conservatory – Lecturer in piano.1975 - 1977
- St. Petersburg State Conservatory – Lecturer in piano.
1998 - current
- Recitals in USA, Denmark, Iceland, Czech Republic, Japan, Taiwan and Australia.1996 - 1997
- Recitals in Japan, Melbourne and several towns in country Victoria.1995 - 1996
- Concert season with the Lira Symphony Orchestra as soloist performing concertos by Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Frank.1993 - 1994
- Recording by ABC for "Sunday Life".
- Recital at Melba Hall, presented by the University of Melbourne
- Recitals in Boston, USA.April 1988
- Recital at Melbourne Concert Hall.1987 - 1986
- Recitals in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and several towns in country Victoria.1979 - 1986
- Recitals in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Japan.1972 - 1979
- Recitals and performances as a soloist with several orchestras in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Baku and Erevan.
Robert's talent as an artist lies in his ability to assert his creative personality in diverse roles in music. As a cellist he takes pride in being the musician first, then the instrumentalist. The key to holding the audience, he believes, is communication and musical integrity.
After spending several years in New York City, Robert has, since 2006, made his home once again in Melbourne. Highlights of his recent career as a performer in Australia include working with the Southern Cross Philharmonia to present works by known and some lesser known Australian composers, amongst more standard repertoire fare. He leads the cello section of this string ensemble in performances at Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, and has presented fund raisers for them at The Savage Club with celebrated Melbourne colleagues Aaron Bardon, violinist – The Silo String Quartet and Amir Farid, pianist, Benaud Trio and Associate Faculty ANAM.
In the past two years Robert has appeared as guest performer with UK based composer /musical director Warren Wills – Best Musical, Carling London Award – as part of fundraisers for underprivileged youth in Shepparton Victoria to have the opportunity to be involved in local theatre productions. Shepp Shed is being supported by the Australian Government as well as Latrobe University. Robert has also collaborated with Melbourne based composer and pianist Phillip Gelbach. In April 2014 he performed in duo recital at Barwon Park Mansion in Winchelsea with pianist Robert Chamberlain as part of the Team of Pianists’ Rigg Bequest Series. Other recent collaborations include performing in a trio with Melbourne University honours performance class staff accompanist Robin Baker and former Principal Violin of Orchestra Victoria Susan Pierotti at the Monash Gallery of Art in 2012, and again in 2014 as part of the Holy Trinity Festival. In July 2014 Robert performed with the string ensemble Fraternita di Soloisti.
In March 2010 Robert performed with pianist Brenna Wee – pianist, Bridges Collective – on live national broadcast for 3MBS FM. He has appeared in recent years in solo recitals in Melbourne with pianists Stella Svetec and Robin Baker. Also in 2010 he performed as guest solo cellist the Haydn C major concerto No.1 with the U3A Hawthorn Orchestra under Willem Van Der Vis at the Hawthorn Town Hall. In 2009 Robert performed in the backup band for World Award winning internationally acclaimed pop singing sensation Tina Arena at Hamer Hall.
Robert has performed numerous times at the Sydney Opera House as a member of the Australian Philharmonic in the 1990s, at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in New York City in 2003, and in 2011 was a guest performer for the ABC FM recorded 150th Gala Concert for the Musical Society of Victoria at Iwaki Auditorium.
In 1998 the Melbourne based Szigeti Trio was formed with colleagues Jonathon Glonek (ex MSO) violin, and Robin Baker, Melbourne University honours performance class staff accompanist, piano. The highlight of their collaboration were the lecture recitals given in Chiang Mai and Bangkok in 2000 under the sponsorship of British Airways, Chevron Oil and the Australian Embassy, and the opportunity to work with and guide gifted local music students.
In 1996 Robert was invited to be the cellist of the Binneas Quartet – with violinists Miki Tsunoda; a Musica Viva performing artist; Siona Loughnane, violin, and John Lynch; currently associate principal viola, National Symphony of Ireland. The Binneas was winner of the 'Prize of Hope' International Shostakovich String Quartet Competition 1987 and the first non-European winner, Chamber Music Award, XII International Festival of Chamber Music, Austria. The quartet participated at the Spoleto Festival Italy and in Melbourne appeared in the Sunset Series at the National Gallery of Victoria as well as participating in the Port Fairy and Castlemaine State Festivals. Collaborative associate artists who have performed with the Binneas Quartet have included Gabby Halloren (MSO violist), University of Melbourne faculty pianist Caroline Almonte, oboist Jeffrey Crellin (MSO) and clarinettist Robert Schubert, Lecturer of Woodwinds, Victorian College of the Arts.
Robert has performed in Australia, USA and Japan as a solo recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician. His orchestral experience includes the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Bolshoi Ballet, the State (opera) Orchestra of Victoria, the Greenwich Symphony Connecticut and two years as a full time member of the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra in Japan.
His US collaborations as a chamber musician include, amongst others: Jeffrey Biegel, First Prize winner, William Kapell / University of Maryland Piano Competition, faculty City University of New York; violinist Ilmar Gavilan, First Prize Winner, International Sphinx Competition; Jethro Marks, founding violist, Zukerman Chamber Players; Maurycy Banaszek, principal violist, New York Symphonic Ensemble; Viviane Hagner, internationally renowned violin soloist and recording artist; Kirill Gerstein, First Prize winner, Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition, and Igor Kraevsky, pianist Pittsburgh Piano Trio.
By way of studio recording work: he was in an ensemble providing instrumental backup for Juno Award winner and Sony / Colombia recording singer / songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk in New York City, and, in Melbourne, recorded film soundtracks with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Chamber music experience in the New York area includes working with SONOS Chamber Orchestra and the Red Bank Chamber Music Society NJ and providing music choreographed by Princeton University dance instructor and educator Rebecca Lazier for her contemporary ensemble, Terrain.
Coming from an extended family of illustrious musicians, as well as musical home, Robert's relatives include renowned Israeli / NYC jazz guitarist and recording artist Gilad Hekselman; winner 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition; David Hyams, Western Australian multi instrumentalist, composer and producer from the blues/folk band 'Miles to Go'; and on the classical side, Josef Grunfarb, (former ) Concertmaster, Royal Theatre Stockholm; Concertmaster Stockholm Philharmonic and Professor of Violin at the Royal Swedish Conservatory.
Born in Melbourne, Robert commenced undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. He completed his Bachelor of Music Degree graduating with honours on a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Scholarship at The Juilliard School, where he was given the Rena Shapiro Memorial Award for outstanding accomplishment. His teachers were international recording artist and soloist Zara Nelsova and Harvey Shapiro, (former) principal cellist, NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini. His Masters Degree was completed with David Soyer – Professor of Cello, The Curtis Institute, and founding cellist of the Guarneri String Quartet – at the Manhattan School of Music.
Chamber music mentors have included Joseph Fuchs – (former) Concertmaster Cleveland Orchestra – Isidore Cohen – (former) violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio – violinist Sylvia Rosenberg and Joel Smirnoff, first violin of the Juilliard String Quartet. Orchestral studies at Manhattan School were taken with Nathan Stutch, (former) associate principal cellist, New York Philharmonic.
Early studies in Melbourne were with John Kennedy, Henry Wenig and Steven Finnerty. Prior to studies overseas Robert spent time in Hobart working with Sela Trau.
Robert has participated in The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where, as the youngest cellist, he was awarded the 'Cello Prize' by Zara Nelsova. He subsequently took part in the Aspen Music Festival and the Johanessen International School of the Arts, Canada.
Since returning to Melbourne Robert has performed solo Bach at Cruden Farm for Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC BDE and at the private residence of Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC PC, the former Governor-General of Australia.
Robert has taught the cello for over twenty years; from five year old beginners and eighty-nine year old beginners to tertiary level students aiming to go professional. His experience covers the public school system, as well as private schools in Melbourne. His many years of additional experience in Japan and the USA has given Robert flexibility with approach to teaching style; the key to successful teaching, he believes, is to access the students' personal needs and hone in on a musical language that the student will relate to and be motivated by, whatever innovative approach this involves on the part of the teacher.
Progress depends as much on the will to learn, as it does on chronology. It also depends on a strong supportive base - in the case of younger children - and, in time, the ability of the student to practise constructively. Many students lack a solid understanding of what effective practising actually means. Robert believes that the teacher has the responsibility to show them, and to build their self confidence in developing their own skills.
Robert has prepared students for the VCE music exam, as well as for all levels of AMEB. In 2013 he successfully prepared students for High School Spectacular auditions as well as Melbourne Youth Music (MYM) where he has been a tutor in the cello sections of various ensembles in 2014.
Based in Melbourne since 2006, Robert maintains a private teaching studio. He was an adjudicator at the Dandenong Festival of Music in 2009 and taught individual lessons, and was an examiner and orchestral mentor at Monash University 2007-2010. In 2012 he adjudicated the Under 18 string competition for the Musical Society of Victoria.
In 2011 Robert became one of the tutors and promoters of an Australian pilot program sponsored by Sistema Australia and the Hobson's Bay City Council to introduce free immersive music education to underprivileged children in Laverton based on the Venezuelan model made famous by LA Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The program in Laverton was designed to give children with no prior exposure to music an all around education in reading music, comprehending rhythm, recognising the instruments of the orchestra, and singing in a choir. The goal ultimately was to integrate each child into an orchestra on a string instrument once the basic elements were absorbed, and, in this way, centre their lives with a purpose and positive focus.
In 2011/2012 Robert co-tutored a group of advanced school age students in a chamber music short course developed jointly with the initiative of Robin Baker - Melbourne University honours performance class staff accompanist - to create a more intensive learning experience for developing young musicians wishing to take their music beyond the limited school experience, and culminating in a concert at the end of each course session to showcase the students' accomplishments. The uniqueness of this course approach lies in the ability of the tutors to tailor very specifically to the needs of an ensemble and nurture their development unhampered by any formal course requirements.
Robert is a contributing reviewer / writer to Stringendo - journal of The Australian Strings Association, the pre-eminent news publication in Australia for string instrumentalists, as well as being a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas.
Robert is a committee member for the Victorian Friends of the Israel Philharmonic (VFIPO), a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the future of the Israel Philharmonic. Towards this end they have featured prominent Melbourne as well as overseas guest performers for fundraisers.
In New York Mr. Ekselman worked as a music critic for Roberta Zlokower's Roberta on the Arts - an online arts column in New York City dedicated to reviews of new CD releases, and listing upcoming noteworthy events in theatre and concerts.