- Posted April 14, 2011 by
New York City, New York
Being Sophia Agranovich
A profile by Aloke Mukerjee in New York City.
Sophia Agranovich is a vivacious woman matched only by her sprightly demeanor and mental agility. She is multi-talented and bursting with the energy that goes along with it. According to the late David Leo Diamond(July 9, 1915 – June 13, 2005), the famous American composer of classical music, “Sophia is a musician of splendid gifts…as a pianist of remarkable technical accomplishments, she is also one of the more sensitive artistes who brings to her performances a percipiency and sensibility all too rare among her contemporaries. The overall musicianship, her knowledge of the composer’s intentions aids her in bringing to all her performances that kind of intelligence one should demand from of all first rate pianists, but who in many cases concentrate most of their efforts on the sheer virtuosity of their impeccable techniques. She is a singular artiste and should be admired for that rare quality alone.”
No sooner had I disembarked from my flight from New Orleans, LA to Newark, NJ, I got a call from Sophia reminding me about our meeting at 2:00 p.m. I looked at my watch. It was 1:30 p.m. We decided to meet in the Airport Café. She was accompanied by her husband John, a gentleman of suave persuasion. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, we sat down in a quiet corner away from the incessant chatter of departing passengers.
Tell me a bit about your ethnic background and major influences that shaped you as a pianist.
My grandmother’s 12 brothers and sisters emigrated to the U.S. before the Russian Revolution and she decided to stay back in the Ukraine. Meanwhile my mother’s uncle went back from the U.S. to help with the Russian Revolution but was captured by Stalin’s forces and imprisoned in a concentration camp.
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian Calendar; the older Julian Calendar was in us e in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik(Communist) government. – Wikipedia
I was born in Ukraine. At the age of 10, I won the All-Ukrainian Young Artistes’ Competition which was broadcast nationwide. I was fortunate to have Anna Stolarevich and renowned professor Alexander Edelman, peers of Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz, classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer, at the Kiev Conservatory in the class of Felix Mikhailovich Blumenfeld, Russian composer, conductor, pianist and teacher.
What has been your American experience?
At age 15, I emigrated to the U.S. and joined the Juilliard School in New York City on a scholarship program under Sascha Gorodnitzki, a child prodigy discovered by Josef Lhevinne. I earned my bachelors and eventually my masters from Juilliard. Later I joined the Town House International Music School as a faculty member. Soon I enrolled for my doctorate in Music Education but chose to opt out to raise a family.
Tell me about your major accomplishments.
I won the first prize at the Bergen Philharmonic Competition and have performed as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist both in the U.S. and abroad. I have given performances at the Lincoln Center, Kaufman Concert Hall, Steinway Hall, Weill Recital Hall at the Carnegie Hall and Bargemusic, all in New York City, Brandeis-Bardin University in California, Watchung Arts Center in New Jersey. I have also performed at Salle Cortot in Paris, Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and Kiev Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music and Lvov State Conservatory in Ukraine. Not many know that I am also a certified Yoga and Pilates instructor at the local YMCA and that I worked for Merrill Lynch as a computer programmer for 20 years!
What are some of the current music-related activities that you are involved in?
I conduct master classes and lectures organize and oversee competitions and recitals and maintain a private teaching practice. I am also the Artistic Director of “Classicals at the Circle” series at the Watchung Arts Center in NJ, Program Chair of Music Educators Association of NJ, President of Prima International Music Completion & Festivals. For more information visit: http://www.primacompetition.org/
What is your philosophy and outlook on life?
I believe that harmony and balance are essential characteristics that need to be embraced in living life. I struggle to find peace between my intellectual and emotional understanding of human nature, aware that despite this flux the middle path and kindness to people serves me well in all my endeavors. I am driven by a need to accomplish more. I try to channel all the frustrations and problems into something positive.
Sophia has a daughter and a son. She also has two grandchildren.
For more on Sophia visit: http://www.sophiagranovich.com/
Listen to her play at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4pLYIRH16c