Classical Music

Video: Russian Roots, Houston Connections And A Jewish Rhapsody

A trio of friends describe their musical adventures and perform pieces from their upcoming concert


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Zoya Shuhatovich recently celebrated her 24th anniversary as a Houstonian.

The internationally-acclaimed pianist immigrated to this city from her native Russia, where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Gorky State Conservatory. A Steinway Artist, Zoya Shuhatovich has cultivated an active concert career, performing solo recitals regularly in Europe (most recently, in Paris this spring), as well as throughout the United States and in her adopted hometown of Houston.

Houston is also where the story begins for the trio of Zoya Shuhatovich, Alla Aranovskaya and Boris Vayner. The three met many years ago at the University of Houston's Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, where their friendship and musical chemistry formed.

Wife-and-husband musicians, Alla Aranovskaya and Boris Vayner, are members of the Grammy-nominated St. Petersburg Quartet – Alla, its first violinist since the quartet's founding in 1985 and Boris, its violist since 2005. Formerly the quartet-in-residence of the Wichita State University School of Music, the members of the St. Petersburg Quartet now perform frequently as a piano quartet, as well as in other chamber ensemble combinations. Currently, Boris Vayner is pursuing a doctoral degree in conducting at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, where he and Alla Aranovskaya are based.

Together, the three friends present a concert of chamber music by Beethoven, Brahms and Alexander Benditsky, on Saturday, July 8, 7pm at the Kawai Piano Gallery in Houston.

Listen to the trio talk about their upcoming concert and share stories about their musical journeys in the interview above – including what it was like for the St. Petersburg Quartet to receive a Grammy nomination in the 1990s and what it was like for Zoya Shuhatovich to perform for President Bill Clinton in 2002!

And watch a video of the trio performing the Jewish Rhapsody by Alexander Benditsky in HPM's Geary Performance Studio.

Musical excerpts used in the interview:

  • Alexander Benditsky: Jewish Rhapsody; Zoya Shuhatovich (piano), Alla Aranovskaya (violin) and Boris Vayner (viola); recorded in HPM's Geary Performance Studio
  • Fritz Kreisler: Miniature Viennese March; Zoya Shuhatovich (piano), Alla Aranovskaya (violin) and Boris Vayner (viola); recorded in HPM's Geary Performance Studio
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Prelude No. 5 in D major; Zoya Shuhatovich (piano); Zoya Shuhatovich Plays Beethoven, Chopin and Shostakovich
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Prelude No. 2 in a minor; Zoya Shuhatovich (piano); Zoya Shuhatovich Plays Beethoven, Chopin and Shostakovich


Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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