Composer Angelina Yershova: "I touched the infinite universe of sound…"
Angelina Yershova, a young talented composer, pianist, producer, art director of her own projects and a specialist in the sound technologies from Kazakhstan, who has been living in Italy for more than 15 years. Angelina told the agency journalist about her career and shared her plans for the future.
Angelina graduated from the Republican Music School named after Kulyash Baiseitova in Almaty in the class of conducting, and then the Kazakh National Conservatory named after Kurmangazy in the class of special piano and composition. Then she obtained a diploma at the Faculty of Electronic Music and Innovative Technologies of the Rome Conservatory Santa Cecilia. Today she is an active composer, working for the Italian State Radio and Television RAI and for Mediaset, writing instrumental and orchestral music, as well as for theater and movies. Since 2008, she has been the author of the multimedia project "Astroconcert", which is characterized as a symbiosis of music, video art and astrophysics. Angelina is also the founder of Twin Paradox Records - an Italian label for electronic music - and the author of a series of music releases: CosmoTengri (2019), Resonance Night (2017), Piano's Abyss (2016), Nomad (2015), Blind Rain (2014), Inquiet (2014), Karmàn Vortex (2013).
Kazakhstan Today: Angelina, tell me when and how exactly did you understand that you wanted to dedicate your life to music? Was it your choice?
Angelina Yershova: As far as I remember, from an early age I was fascinated by the music of nature: I could walk for hours in the forest, listening to the voices of birds, the sound of rain, I loved the storm, thunder and wind in particular. The rumble of thunder before the rain caused colourful associations connected with the sound of the organ and with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. My mother, a pianist and composer, played the piano often. While listening to my mother play, I imagined myself at the instrument. My imagination was taking me to a fantasy world, thus my passion for music was born. As early as 4 years old I announced that I would become a pianist-composer. My mom took it very seriously: she brought me to a music school, where I easily conquered the commission with my musicality and entered the piano department. She endlessly believed in my talent and educated me in the spirit of a "victorious warrior". I was a timid and shy child, and she told me: "When you go out to the public, you should say to yourself: "Hats off - there is a genius in front of you! And most importantly - you must believe in it! " At the same time, she taught me not to be afraid of defeat and she often repeated: "There is no victory without defeat!" My older sister Milena also sang well and played the piano, we had a family vocal trio. We often gave concerts, performing the music of the classical composers: Bach, Caccini, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, as well as this of the contemporary composers. My dad, being an engineer by profession, had a secondary specialized musical education, he was a brilliant guitar and accordion player, and he improvised freely. It was interesting and easy to evolve in a family saturated with creativity. I am happy that my soul chose exactly this path.
The next stage was the Kulyash Bayseitova School, where I first became acquainted with conducting skills. My teacher, choral conductor Mamizerov Vladimir Nikiforovich, educated in me the qualities of leadership. Often after classes, we stayed in the classroom with students to watch rare scores and listen to unique records, these were the masterpieces of the classics performed by prominent conductors such as Herbert von Karayan, Leonardo Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, Claudio Abbado, Eugene Mravinsky, Eugene Svetlanov and others. In parallel with conducting classes, from the age of twelve I began to take lessons in composition from a musicologist, composer, and music critic Bakhtiyar Amanzhol. Thanks to this incredible meeting, a clear desire to become a composer began to grow in me. It was a golden time!
Then I continued my studies at the Kazakh National Conservatory named after Kurmangazy in the class of piano and composition. My teacher Bakhtiyar Amanzhol introduced me to outstanding representatives of the instrumental tradition of Kazakhstan. In the composition class, great attention was paid to the analysis of classic and contemporary works, as well as technics of improvisation.
It was here where listening to and absorbing the "musical ethnicity of the steppe," I discovered for myself the multi-levelness and originality of Kazakh traditional music. My inner attitude is strongly connected with the nature of Kazakhstan: the steppe, mountains, open spaces, as well as with the cult of shamanism.
Angelina Yershova “Nomad”, Palace of the Republic, Almaty
Angelina Yershova «Shaman Wires» EMUFest - International Electroacoustic Music Festival, Rome
Kazakhstan Today: You are engaged in creativity in several directions at the same time. Tell us about them.
Angelina Yershova: I have always been interested in the mutual enrichment and synthesis of various art forms. In my work I "visualize" the sound and "hear" the color and shape - all is vibration. This is how multimedia projects or new art formats are born, one of which is "Astroconcert", a project that I created more than 10 years ago with the famous Italian astrophysicist Stefano Giovanardi. A feature of this project is the syncretism of various artistic trends, such as music, astrophysics, theater, video art and improvisation. We have successfully completed more than 20 performances, the project is gaining strength and style maturity.
Astroconcert "COSMOFONIA" - Live (Trieste 21.03.2019)
I also really love orchestral music and synthesis with other musical styles. One of such successful projects was carried out in 2016 - The Orchestral Album, when the famous Italian rock band Belladonna (Dani Macchi and Luana Caraffa) asked me to orchestrate and conduct their most famous songs. The result was an interesting rock orchestral album, which was warmly received by the public and very highly appreciated by music critics.
Kazakhstan Today: Tell us about your CosmoTengri project with the Kazakh painter and eco-activist Saltanat Tashimova.
Angelina Yershova: In addition to the Astroconcert, I experiment in other directions, for example, Music - Painting - Improvisation. As for the project called CosmoTengri, on which I worked this year, I invited the talented Kazakhstan artist Saltanat Tashimova to participate and she performed her art work on an amplified canvas. The uniqueness of the project was that the synthesis took place in the close interaction of music and painting through special sensors placed on the canvas, allowing real-time amplification and synthesis of the sound of the artist's Paint Performance. In other words, each movement of the artist's brush was transformed into sound, having undergone a special electronic processing. The feeling was incredible! The fusion of color, sound and movement into one creative dance.
Kazakhstan Today: How long does it take to prepare one project? What difficulties do you encounter when organizing a concert/ an event?
Angelina Yershova: It's always different. Any creative idea is born of inspiration and then has to mature. When all the elements of the idea have appeared, starting from the name, to the details of creative implementation, this idea becomes a new project, and then needs to be formalized and prepared for publication. From this moment we can say that 50% of the work is done. After everything is ready - the content of the project, concept, audio, video and all the necessary materials for the promotion - the most difficult thing begins: the promotion of the project. And this means searching for media channels, advertising, looking for a place for the presentation, dates planning, searching for sponsors, etc. There are roadblocks at every stage. It is very important not to lose the fire, that is, the desire to get the job done. In terms of time, such process can take from several months to several years. It all depends on the complexity of the project, on the number of stages and on the relevance of the proposed "product"; yet, to a large extent, in my opinion, a lot depends on the persistence of the author and his firm spirit to show the world his brainchild.
Kazakhstan Today: What did you do in Kazakhstan before moving to Rome?
Angelina Yershova: Before moving to Rome, I conducted an active concert program in Kazakhstan: I worked with the K. Baiseitova children Choir, performed as a pianist and concertmaster, worked as a conductor and leader at the Hesed Jewish Center, and I also worked as a composer-arranger of the Art Ensemble of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. As an extra-work, I was teach piano and occasionally sing in the choir of the Orthodox Church. It was a time of searching for my place in the world of music and in society as a whole. Everything was interesting to me. Yet the greatest satisfaction and joy I receive comes from the creation of my music, from the creative process, from the state of creation.
Kazakhstan Today: Angelina, it seems that your rich career has developed easily and rapidly ... Were there any difficulties in self-realization and promotion of ideas?
Angelina Yershova: By the time I tried to working in different direction and realized that I wanted to write music, I was faced with the harsh reality that it is extremely difficult to be a composer. This type of activity did not bring me enough income, despite the fact that I tried to write in different genres and be flexible and adaptable in cooperation. All this is also intertwined with the difficult transitional period of the country and difficult family circumstances. To stay afloat, I had to earn money using all the opportunities available to me. Without a doubt, I experienced a deep crisis, as I began to doubt my calling, whether I should write music at all. The turning point of this period was a series of events that opened my eyes to the potential for creative development on a global scale.
In early 2003, as if in a huge wave, I was "covered with creativity" and new discoveries all over my head. I met with the Kazakh poet and film director Khakim Bulibekov. He worked on the documentary movie titled "Reading Herodotus". Hakim invited me to write the soundtrack. The film won second prize at the "Shaken's Stars" international film festival. In the same 2003, on the initiative of the famous American pianist Joel Fun I was invited to solo performances in America, where I successfully performed, presenting my music for the first time at the "Staten Island Waterfront Festival" in New York. There were several other unforgettable concerts in Manhattan. This trip completely opened my eyes to the big world of music. The city of New York with its intense pulsation of life literally struck me with its musical diversity and especially the professional level of musicians. The creative environment seemed to infuse fresh strength and energy into me. A thirst for something new, a professional search, a desire to learn and comprehend new horizons, all of this turned my eyes to the search for the treasured "Holy Grail".
Kazakhstan Today: How did your life change after this trip?
Angelina Yershova: In 2004 I moved to Rome, where new ups and downs awaited me. Not everything was as perfect as I wanted, although Italy greeted me warmly and cordially. First, I won a grant to study at Cinecittà Campus, which was a part of the Cinecittà film studio in Rome which allowed me to meet fantastic people from Italian movie and TV world. Afterwards I entered the Faculty of Electronic Music at the Santa Cecilia Roman Conservatory. Learning was hard. New foreign language, technical subjects such as programming, acoustics and psychoacoustics, mathematics etc... New knowledge opened new horizons for me, new colors in both composer and creative terms. I touched the infinite universe of sound, where electronic synthesis allows you to create your own unique world, your own timbre, overcome the gravity of the tempered system and, finally, create your own style, your own unique energy vibration. Without a doubt, the center of my studies in the field of sound synthesis was my favorite instrument, the piano, to which I dedicated two music albums: Piano's Abyss (2016) and Resonance Night (2017).
At The Piano City 2018 Festival in Milan.
Kazakhstan Today: Tell us about your life in Italy.
Angelina Yershova: Italy is a sunny country with deep historical roots, a warm sea climate and benevolent hot people. Here, it is as if time stops and you freeze in a certain fairy-tale dimension. People here know how to enjoy life and appreciate beauty of everything. In particular, Rome has an intense artistic life, but on a professional level, no doubt, there is high competition, and sometimes it is extremely difficult to break through for emerging artists. Italy taught me a lot: perseverance, patience, endurance, and I also honed my music tastes.
At The “Calcatronica” 2015 Electronic Music Festival
Kazakhstan Today: What are the sources of your inspiration?
Angelina Yershova: What inspires me most is nature, cosmos, new creative experiences and collaborations with interesting artists. Stressful and hopeless situations make me grow, in which I have to show non-trivial creativity. And last but not the least, much would have been impossible without the support of loved ones, so I am immensely grateful to my husband and my family and all those who believe in me and thereby inspire my crazy exploits.
Kazakhstan Today: Where is it possible to listen to your works?
Angelina Yershova: My music can be found on all major online music distribution platforms, such as iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, Last FM and others. It is also possible to both listen and purchase my records on my website.
Kazakhstan Today: After moving to Italy, do you perform concerts / projects in Kazakhstan?
Angelina Yershova: I really miss Kazakhstan, and I love to return to my hometown of Almaty. I experience an extraordinary rise when I play in my Motherland. These are special emotions of something near and dear. This happened also during my performance of project "CosmoTengry" in Almaty one year before. It Was unforgettable event where was also taking part great Kazakh artists - improvisors: Gulzhan Amanzhol (Kobiz), Aidar Kuspanov (Cello), Yuriy Leonov (drums), Saltanat Tashimova (Art Painting), Bakhtiyar Amanzhol (introduction). The audience greeted us warmly and didn't want to let us go!
Kazakhstan Today: What are your plans for the nearest future?
Angelina Yershova: I usually don't share my plans! (Smiles...) I adhere to the motto: "If you want to say something, first do it!" But, in general, I think that much remains ahead: I would like to cooperate more with Kazakhstan, to do projects devoted to environmental problems and publish my new albums, one of which will be released in May 2020. It's a very different album from previous works and I'm curious how it will be perceived by my listeners.
Kazakhstan Today: And finally, your wishes to young student musicians who want to connect their lives with music and creativity.
Angelina Yershova: Think big. Never give up! Believe in your own strength, don't wait, but act. What you can do today, do not put off until tomorrow. Search for new incentives, enjoy difficulties and use every opportunity for your personal growth.
Kazakhstan Today: Angelina, we wish you creative success, the implementation of all your new projects! And we look forward to your new concerts.
Angelina Yershova: Thank you very much to all readers and, I hope to see you soon on the pages of Kazakhstan Today!