Celebrity Interview with ALEXANDER POELUEV winner of the Coupe Mondiale and Coupe Mondiale Piano Accordion Championship held in Denmark in 2002.
Part of the First Prize for the piano accordion competition is a concert tour to Australia and New Zealand to perform as the guest artist at the AATA Australian International Accordion Championships and the NZAA South Pacific Accordion Championshiopns in New Zealand.
Q. We will start at the beginning. Where were you born?
A. Rostov-on-Don in Russia.
Q. What are your most vivid memories form your childhood?
A. I have lots and one of them is an incident from my teen years. I was attending the draw for a competition and wishing to leave the stage quickly to avoid repeating the delay a previous competitor had caused, that everybody laughed at. I turned and did not notice a flower vase, which I knocked over from its position at about my height to the floor. Everybody laughed, as I remember leaving with some embarrassment.
Q. Did your parents play a part in your commencing to play the accordion?
A. My parents are not musicians but my father wished to play an accordion, and because he did not have this opportunity, he encouraged me to learn.
Q. Have you any other family and are they musicians?
A. Yes, I have one brother who lives in St. Petersburg but he does not play a musical instrument. However, all of the members of my family like music and my father plays the guitar.
Q. Why did you choose to play and specialize on the piano accordion?
A. In the first place it was the encouragement of my father.
Q. At what age did you begin to learn the accordion?
A. I was six year old.
Q. Do you play any other instruments and if so, what?
A. I also play the piano, the button accordion (bayan) and a few notes on the violin.
Q. Could you tell us about your earliest teachers?
A. My first teacher was Alexander Shachnev and then later I learned from Inna Pilipenko who in many ways was like a second mother to me.
Q. Do you have any favourite pieces of music?
A. Not really. I like many pieces and composers, and one of them is the music of J.S. Bach.
Q. Have you done any composing or arranging?
A. Yes, but only as part of the music course I am studying.
Q. Have you ever played in an orchestra or an ensemble?
A. I have taken many opportunities to play in groups and orchestras during my studies.
Q. We know you were both the Coupe Mondiale World Champion and also the Coupe Mondiale Piano Accordion Champion in 2002. Would you tell us about your other competition successes?
A. I was Russian Champion at Belgorod in 1997 and also 2000. I have also won regional competitions at Rostov and North Caucasies.
Q. Who have you been inspired by or helped by, that you would like to pay tribute to.
A. There are several. I have already mentioned my first two teachers, Alexander Shachnev, and Inna Pilipenko. I also learned from Sergey Galkin for one year. I am currently studying with Professor Viacheslav Semionov who has had a strong influence on me both personally and as a musician.
Apart from my teachers, I was introduced to Yuri Shishkin, a famous bayan player, by Inna Pilipenko. Yuri encouraged me and has given me personal support. I have also been inspired by other musicians like Alexsander Skliarov, Horovitz, Richter, the composer Rachmaninoff and others.
Q. How long do you usually practice?
A. About three hours each day.
Q. Do you have any special practice routines?
A. Not really, but after going over a piece, I pick out the weak areas and give them extra practice.
Q. How do you divide your practice between instruments?
A. I spend most time on the accordion, and just a little on the piano.
Q. What benefits do you see from playing several instruments?
A. This and also conducting helps you grow as a complete musician.
Q. We would like to hear of the places you have played in concert?
A. I have played in Moscow, Volgograd, Orsk and Rostov-on-Don and in the following countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Denmark and also the U.S.A. and now Australia and New Zealand.
Q. Do you have any amusing memories from your concerts?
A. When I was about twelve years old my teacher had me give special practice to a piece in my program, but when on stage, and spite of that piece being in the program, I played the other pieces but completely forgot to play this number. I couldn't understand the looks of the audience as I walked off the stage! I realized that about 40 minutes later and I cried all through the rest of the concert.
Q. Our readers would like to hear of a typical day for you as you study at the Moscow State Music Institute.
A. I rise at different times as I like to sleep in when my program allows it. I try to exercise every morning, especially at a gym or swimming. I then have to attend classes when scheduled and have to fit my practice around this. As my accordion teacher has to travel in the course of his career, my accordion lessons have to be scheduled in blocks when he is in Moscow.
I attend the Moscow State Music Institute for seven days a week and I will achieve a Bachelor of Music degree on the pianoaccordion on my retern to Moscow. I will continue my studies at the Russian State Academy of Music, named after Gnessins for my Masters degree.
Q. Do you have interests apart from music?
A. I like running, swimming and table tennis.
Q. What do you do to relax?
A. I like to socialize with friends, go for forest and mountain walks and also like to read history and astronomy books.
Q. To what extent has the changes in Russia over the last ten years effected musicians?
A. It has had little effect on me, as ten years ago I was very young. However I believe many Russians now travel more. Much tuition is still subsidized by scholarships although students usually have to meet or have their parents meet, their living expenses.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. I hope to make my career as a performer for formal concerts and also compose and conduct.
When asked if he had any advice for young aspiring musicians Alexander in typical modest style replied, "I think I still need advice." Check out the Xtra gaming servers at www.xtramsn.co.nz/gaming!