In the darkened basement of a chapel in Parkville, melodies float out from underneath doors. One after another they race down halls, each beautiful and haunting, each clashing and fighting against each other as they meet and duel on top of the industrialized carpet. If this isn’t where the masters are born, it is where they take their first toddling steps.
They come from all over the world to descend into the depths of the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel at Park University and lock themselves away during their Christmas breaks, content to finally let other distractions fall away and focus solely on the technical prowess necessary to transcend the sheet music and capture the ever-elusive goal of musicality. Luckily they have a maestro governing them—Stanislav Ioudentich.
The consortium of students practicing is part of Park University’s International Center for Music (ICM), of which Ioudenitch is the founder and artistic director. Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Ioudenitch is world renowned for his mastery of the piano, as was evidenced when he won the gold medal at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001 at the age of 30.
He was born into a family of musicians. In the cold war era, where education was focused very early on the latent skills of children, he was spotted at an early age and thrust into intensive musical training in a conservatory environment. The result was training with some of the most important names in classical music: Dmitri Bashkirov, Leon Fleisher, Murray Perahia, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, William Grant Naboré and Rosalyn Tureck.
The Van Cliburn, one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world, is only one accomplishment on a long list of musical trophies. Ioudenitch’s sensitive musicality is in demand as a concert pianist as well as master at the International Piano Academy Lake Como.
But most of his year is spent in Parkville overseeing ICM. The program developed in 2003 after he was approached by Park University with the idea of developing a school that would refine Park University with the most potential into viable and marketable talents on the international classical music scene.
“The most important thing from the beginning was to bring new talent here: real, great talent. And that is not just students, which is the most important, but also faculty and world renowned musicians and teachers to provide master classes also, so that our young artists have an opportunity to meet different musicians,” says Ioudenitch. The ICM currently has three full time faculty members, including Ioudenitch. Ben Sayevich tends to violin and viola students and Daniel Veis governs the cello studio. Guest teachers include classical and flamenco guitar master and Kansas City resident Beau Bledsoe among others.
Ioudenitch says that the diversity of the teachers is a boon to students. “It is important that everyone has a different approach, each student. We have students from all over the world, so we are trying to create the best learning atmosphere for them,” he says. For these students, many of which hail from Ioudenitch’s homeland of Uzbekistan, other eastern European countries and China, this means much more hands on time with master teachers.
Students meet much more frequently with professors than in even a traditional conservatory setting. Add that to hours of practice each day and the result is a learning exchange that flows at the highest level. Ioudenitch says that his method of teaching is similar to the European approach, which involves intensive focus and practice from a very young age. While there is a range of ages studying at ICM, all of the students could fall into the category of wunderkinds.
ICM has already produced one phenomenal success story with Behzod Abduraimov. The 21-year-old Uzbek national turned heads after winning the London International Piano Competition and subsequently holding the honor of being one of the first classical artists to be signed to the Decca label in the last several years. His star is definitely on the rise. But for the time being, he practices in Ioudenitch’s office in jeans and a t-shirt.
While each teacher works individually with their students, they are all invested in the education of the 20 odd students at ICM. Each student has a mentor that is an expert in their field but they glean the expertise of the collected staff.
Ioudenitch says that some of the things that the staff of ICM teaches are simply how to survive in the demanding and extremely difficult world of the classical music circuit. Having made the rounds young himself, he understands the stress that falls on artists that may be more at home in a practice room than signing contracts for performances.
Viola student Shokhrukh Sadikov, 24, feels that while Parkville may seem like an odd place to collect genius musicians, it makes sense to follow the talented lead of Ioudenitch. “I can say for sure that this is one of the greatest music departments in the Midwest, maybe even the United States because of the professors. Every one is studying and being close to these personalities: it is just great happiness for everyone I see,” he says.
Sadikov says that the pedigree of education that Ioudenitch brings to the program vets it as one of the best. “I have had master classes with Stanislav and when you have the tremendous amount of energy that he puts into you, he delivers this message. This is the reason I chose to be here,” says Sadikov.
Ioudenitch is surrounded by music both at work and at home. His wife, Tatiana Ioudenitch is also a pianist. Teenaged daughter Maria is contemplating whether to follow in the footsteps of her parents right now. While ICM is still in its infancy, Ioudenitch is excited about the work that they are doing. As funding for the program grows, he hopes to be able to expand their reach even more. For the time being, he’s content to find the diamonds in the rough from across the globe and bring them home to Parkville.
For more information and a concert schedule for the International Center for Music, visit Park.edu/icm. NL