Svitlana Koshelieva and Viktor Koshelyev are Ukrainian musicians teaching music at the Guangzhou Opera House. Svitlana is a pianist with a doctor’s degree from Prokofiev's National Institute of Music. Viktor is a clarinetist, who was once the principal clarinetist of Ukraine National Orchestra. Recently, Life of Guangzhou had a chance to interview them to find out a little about their lives in Guangzhou.
S = Svitlana Koshelieva V = Viktor Koshelyev
Svitlana Koshelieva (R) and Viktor Koshelyev (L)
Q - How long have you been in Guangzhou?
V: It’s almost 4 years.
S: We have been in Guangzhou since October of 2011.
Q - Why did you come to Guangzhou?
S: That was an interesting story. When I was working at an institution in Donetsk of Ukraine, one of my students was from China. We had been keeping in touch after he went back to his hometown, Qingdao. He invited me to Qingdao to give a concert. At that time, Guangzhou Opera House had finished its construction. My student sent our resumes to Guangzhou Opera House. And they were really interested and invited us to come to Guangzhou.
Q - I remember Guangzhou Opera House was built five years ago. So you two have witnessed the development of this place.
V: Yes. It can be seen like we have been growing with the opera house. When we first came, not many people came here. Now more and more people come to visit here.
Q - It has been nearly four years for you living in Guangzhou. What do you think of this city?
V: When I first came here, I thought Guangzhou was a beautiful city. I traveled around the first few months and always am amazed by the wonderful sceneries of Guangzhou.
S: Before I came to China, I thought China is undeveloped. When I came, it totally surprised me. When I went back to Ukraine, my friends thought China was a developing country and asked me why I worked in Guangzhou. I always retort to them and told them how beautiful and modernized Guangzhou is and asked them to come visit me in China. To see is to believe. I found it is quite interesting. To tell my people from my hometown that China is wonderful. We are like the culture messenger of China and Ukraine. On one hand, I can tell all my people how China really looks. On the other hand, people in China can find out more about Ukraine from us.
Q - Would you tell us about your work in the opera house?
S: We are teaching young people music here. It feels like there’s a gap in primary training for young people learning music in China, which brings me more challenges while teaching. There can be a development in music education in China. As you can see, China is far from Europe. Classic music from European countries might not be that convenient to spread into China. Ukraine is closer to Europe, which brings a better learning environment of music for Ukrainians. Currently, I am teaching the new generation. We held a competition with the support of Times Property. We hope it could help push the development of music education to the new generation.
Q - What kind of competition was it?
S: It is the Future Artist—Times Property 2015 Guangzhou Opera House Art Education Foundation Music Scholarship Selection. The competition is divided into two groups: piano and woodwind instruments. We are the judges of the competition. I hope this competition and similar events can emphasize the importance of learning the basics of music.
Q - Are there any interesting things in your work you would like to share?
S: The music world is very extensive. The more you explore, the more you gain. When I teach students playing piano, after they learn the piano score and how to play it, I will become the bridge between students and the pianist, to explain how the pianist composes this melody and what’s in the pianist’s mind.
Can I have a paper and a pen? I would like to let you know another interesting thing about me. You will see my connection with world class musicians around the globe. You see, this is Beethoven. Carl Czenry is one of his students. Liszt is Czenry’s student. And Liszt educated Godowsky. Godwsky’s student, Neuhaus, is the tutor of Toplin, who is my teacher’s teacher. You see, they all link together.
Q - That’s interesting. As far as I know, there’re many children learning piano in China. But not many children learn to play clarinet or saxophone. I know Vicktor is teaching wind instrument in the opera house. Are there many students learning from you now?
V: Yes, clarinet or saxophone learning is not as far-reaching as piano learning in Guangzhou. However, from the competition, I found out there are a few people learning wind instruments. Clarinet and saxophone have unique tones that can create wonderful sound effects different from piano. It has a lot of potential. Wind instruments are essential in symphony orchestras, especially the clarinet.
Q - Apart from work, what will you like to do with your leisure time?
S: China is so big. We love traveling. However we don’t have that many holidays. We have been to Yangshuo, Hainan Sanya. We want to visit Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang when we have time. On the weekend, I love to get closer to nature. I enjoy visiting parks, so we can get closer to the “feng”(wind) and “shui”(water).