“I welcome all experiments, as long as they involve aesthetics, goodness and beauty.”
Eva Gevorgyan was born in Moscow in 2004. She matriculated at the Central School of the Moscow Conservatory in 2011, studying with Professor Natalia Trull, Honored Artist of Russia. By the age of 18, Eva had won more than 50 awards in various competitions. In 2018 she was awarded the first prize as well as a special prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. That same year she won the first prize as well as five special prizes at the Second International Competition for Young Pianists at the Grand Piano Competition in Moscow. In 2019, Eva won the second prize and the Press Award at the Van Cliburn International Piano Junior Competition and Festival, as well as the Grand Prix at the Second GMP International Concerto Competition in Uzbekistan. In 2020, Eva went on to win the Second Jeune Chopin International Piano Competition in Switzerland and the Chicago International Online Music Competition. In 2021, the pianist became prize-winner at the First All-Russian New Names Foundation Scholarship Competition in Moscow. Eva Gevorgyan is an active concert musician, performing with leading symphony orchestras in Russia and around the world. In 2019 she performed a recital at the famous Albert Hall in London. Eva has taken part in the programs of Saint Petersburg Music House since 2020. The young pianist’s success is the result of her boundless work ethic and dedication to music.
Eva Gevorgyan: When I first started studying at the age of five, every lesson was like a game to me. I remember my mother gave me shiny stickers which I used to decorate the notes, my hands and the rest of my surroundings. At first, I would study for a half hour in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Now I study a bit longer, from morning till evening… I’m kidding, of course, and yet all my time is inseparably connected with music—if I’m not playing, I am listening to records or attending concerts. Naturally, I find time for other things too, yet most of my day is dedicated to my profession.
Saint Petersburg Music House (SPMH): What are your lessons with your teacher like? Do you give yourself the freedom to disagree?
Eva Gevorgyan: My professor, Natalia Trull, is one of the most important people in my life. She is an amazingly deep and sensitive person and musician, a strong personality. If I disagree with something, Natalia finds the words and patience to change my mind. After that, things go as smoothly as possible for me, as if the choice in question had been mine to begin with. For the most part, however, we have no disagreements.
SPMH: You became a sought-after pianist very early in your career, performing with renowned ensembles. How much of your repertoire back then was “beyond your years” — that is, difficult not in terms of performance technique, but in terms of emotional maturity?
Eva Gevorgyan: When I was young, I concentrated more on performance technique and so evaluated the complexity of a piece from a technical perspective. This has passed with age. [Smiling.] I have always liked to play dramatic, even tragic works, such as, for example, Musical Moment No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. I remember someone saying that it was difficult to feel this piece at 10 or 11 years old, and when I played it at that age, I probably adapted it to the emotions I was familiar with. I would play it differently now, and 20 years from now, I imagine my interpretation would be different from the first two as well.
SPMH: Which conductors, if any, have made you “suffer” the most?
Eva Gevorgyan: I am very glad that so far I have had wonderful relationships with all my conductors. I always heed their advice on tempos and playing with the given ensembles. The same concert can sound different with different conductors, a variety that I like.
SPMH: Taking part in Saint Petersburg Music House projects allows you to be surrounded by young, bright and talented musicians. How do you feel about the concept of “healthy competition?”
Eva Gevorgyan: I am very happy to be a part of Saint Petersburg Music House because I get to interact with wonderful, talented musicians and perform in the best venues! Among musicians, we tend to be friends rather than competitors. For instance, I have a long and strong friendship with Sasha Klyuchko, and I played alongside Ravil Islyamov in Arkhangelsk. It is a real treat to be among people who share your spirit. Due to their busy schedules, musicians sometimes lack companionship.
SPMH: With which musical era or composer do you find it easiest to “get along?”
Eva Gevorgyan: The Romantic composers are very dear to me: Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. I also love the mystical Scriabin. I think that Chopin’s music cannot be mistaken with that of any other composer. I am inspired by his poeticism and the passion of his statements. I think that Piano Sonata No. 2 is one of his most profound works. In the third movement, after the funeral march, there is something I call “the theme of heaven”—music that gives hope to all mankind. In Chopin’s music, I sense the love of God, something that is always sublime and unattainable. Rachmaninoff is dear to me in the boundless fullness of his sound; it is an ocean of feelings and emotions that captures and carries you. In his music you can hear the true beauty of the Russian soul. His Piano Concerto No. 2 always gives me the shivers, no matter how many times I play or listen to it.
SPMH: You often perform Chopin for Saint Petersburg Music House. At what age did you discover this composer?
Eva Gevorgyan: I played Chopin’s Nocturne No. 21 in C minor for the first time when I was 9 years old at a competition in the Czech Republic, and I played the Fantaisie-Impromptu at the same age too. My love of Chopin began with these pieces. I was in Żelazowa Wola, where he was born, playing on his Pleyel grand piano, which has a completely different timbre compared to modern pianos.
SPMH: In 2021 you were a finalist in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. How hard was it to endure the Chopin marathon?
Eva Gevorgyan: The Chopin Competition was the most challenging in my career. First of all, it really is a marathon that consists of a video selection round and then five in-person rounds. And secondly, you are only allowed to play Chopin’s music. For me, it was a real immersion into Chopin’s works. I went to the Fryderyk Chopin Museum several times and listened to many interpretations of his works. It was a difficult ordeal both psychologically and physically. The competition lasts almost a month, and during that time you accumulate a lot of emotional tension and fatigue.
SPMH: Have you ever felt fear before going on stage or learning a new piece?
Eva Gevorgyan: I feel excitement before going on stage, which usually helps me concentrate. It’s a mixture of anticipation at meeting my new audience and anxiety about how the concert will go, about whether I will be able to express what I want to say, and about how my audience will perceive it.
SPMH: When did you start composing music?
Eva Gevorgyan: I started composing when I started learning to play at the age of five. Initially, I composed short children’s songs, and I even have recordings of some of them. I used to think up verses and melodies, and I used to sing them with feeling. [Smiling.] As I got older, I wrote several Harry Potter plays and some chamber compositions. When I perform my compositions, it’s usually at contemporary music concerts or as an encore. I haven’t composed much as of late, but I hope to return to it in the future.
SPMH: Can you imagine yourself performing in an “informal” context? And do you have a repertoire for such occasions? Could tell us about your experiences with this kind of performance?
Eva Gevorgyan: I welcome all experiments, as long as they involve aesthetics, goodness and beauty. I teamed up with Yamaha and gave a concert/lecture in a cozy, small hall. I played excerpts of my favorite pieces and drew parallels to contemporary music. Many people were struck by the similarities between the second movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Eric Carmen’s “All by Myself.” Then, I have this one idea [that I would like to pursue], but I don’t know how to implement it yet: I read that deaf people also hear music, but in their own way. Music reaches them as vibrations, tiny vibrations. Does that mean that deaf people will perceive saturated music better than cantilena? What importance might music hold for them? I would like to answer these as well as a number of other questions, in order to play a concert for a deaf and hard of hearing audience.
SPMH: Are the artist’s image and conduct on and off stage important to you?
Eva Gevorgyan: The artist’s style on stage is important to me. I prepare for each concert and think through my outfit and hairstyle. Offstage I want to live a normal life, without frames and restrictions. I like sneakers, comfortable clothes and joking around.
SPMH: Do you distinguish “technique” and “music?” And if so, which is more important for you?
Eva Gevorgyan: I do not distinguish “technique” and “music,” as no matter how talented a person is, without technique he or she will not be able to convey emotions fully; vice versa, excellent technique without musicianship is the same as a robot pressing keys. Everything has to be interrelated, harmonious and integrated. But the music always comes first.
Interview by Tatiana Mikhailova