Simona Snitkovskaya, Russian opera coach with Opera San Jose, visited the upper school on Sept. 25 to speak to some of Susan Nace’s music students. An accomplished pianist with a vast knowledge of Russian music, Snitkovskaya has coached professional singers hoping to expand their repertoire of Russian music, helping them with their pronunciation, diction and interpretation.
She began by sharing with the students some of the history of Russian classical music and its key figures. “Russian music basically came from non-professional composers,” she said. “The first composers we had, they all did it for fun. It was their hobby.”
Among Russia’s first notable professional composers were Modest Mussorgsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The class was later joined by professional opera singers Kindra Scharich and Kirk Eichelberger, who shared their experiences learning how to perform Russian music. While studying music, Eichelberger said, “We have to learn, in addition to English, French, German, Italian and a lot of Latin.” The only way to learn how to perform in Russian was to do so independently. “It was long and painstaking, but so worth it.”
“Each language has its own music,” Scharich said. “Just to be able to make those sounds is part of the music of the language. You get a whole new palette of sounds that you can deal with.”
The singers then performed some pieces in Russian, demonstrating their hard-earned command of the language.