The Keys to Success

Dr. Valery Kuleshov is a world-renowned Russian virtuoso concert pianist. He’s received numerous prestigious honors for his work, including one from Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. He has played Rachma-ninoff’s Concerto Number Three before an audience of 25,000 in Australia. He’s interacted personally with the famous Vladimir Horowitz, a world-renowned classical pianist and minor composer.

Based on his remarkable credentials, there’s no doubt Kuleshov is marvelously talented. Despite international recognition that would afford him to live anywhere in the world, he has found himself here in Edmond.

Kuleshov and his wife of over 20 years, Kate, came to UCO in 1998 to serve as an Artist-in-Residence for the School of Music. “It is an honor to have Dr. Valery Kuleshov’s time and talents as part of our educational experience,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, marketing and communications manager for UCO’s College of Arts, Media & Design. “In addition to teaching master classes for our piano students, Kuleshov performs in solo performances and at the annual ‘Toast to the Maestro’ scholarship fundraising event each year.”

The presence of the Kuleshov family can be credited to a relationship with Edmond resident, Dr. Steve Blevins. A music enthusiast, Blevins hosted the family in his home during a concert tour and encouraged Kuleshov and his wife to move to the U.S.

His daughter, Tatiana, has proven to be a prodigy and an award-winning professional pianist, herself. She travels the world as a concert performer, chamber music artist, accompanist and teacher.

Kuleshov’s career began as a young boy. The four-year old surprisingly discovered his talent in his Rus-sian kindergarten classroom. He saw an intriguing “box” in a corner and began to play with it, typing out melodies with one tiny finger. The seemingly simple act set in motion the beginnings of a life-long calling.

He wrote compositions as a child and found his mother was instrumental in his breakthrough. “My mother copied my compositions by hand, without knowing about music,” he said. “After I auditioned for the Central Musical School of the Moscow Conservatory they told her they would take me, but they didn’t believe the compositions were mine.”

At the age of seven, Kuleshov entered the Central Musical School of the Moscow Conservatory. He made his concert debut with a symphony orchestra in the Great Hall of the conservatory when he was just nine years old.

As a young man in college, Kuleshov had to pay his own room and board. To support himself, he played different instruments at live venues. Followers of classical music may be surprised to learn this interna-tionally acclaimed pianist came to prominence after performing in a rock band named Dissonance. “We traveled to different cities in Russia. I played electrical guitar, keyboard, drums and I sang sometimes, but having perfect pitch does not make for a perfect voice,” he modestly said.

He continued on with his schooling and earned his Master’s Degree at Gnessin’s Academy of Music and his Doctoral Degree from the State Jewish Academy, both in Moscow. Among his long list of accomplishments and awards include placing first at the Pro Piano International Competition and a Silver Medal winner at the Van Cliburn International
Piano Competition.

In 1997, by decree of Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia, Kuleshov was awarded the rare distinction “Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation.”

“Each time I see him, I am spellbound by his talents,” said Parks-Schlepp. “His fingers move so fast it’s like watching a half-dozen hummingbirds in flight. It’s just a thrilling display of artistry.”

Composers need artists of exceptional talent to play their work. Without expert hands to negotiate their pieces, the music remains on a page, unable to move their listeners. Kuleshov is truly a master of his work, a man who brings magic to the music.

Kuleshov has been shaped through hard work and determination. With the help of loved ones, he has taken his natural gift and used it to become a highly successful and well-regarded concert pianist. He is a man who inspires artists to follow his example and will continue to inspire the people of Edmond.

To learn more about Valery Kuleshov, visit his website

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