Cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, a recent Artist Diploma recipient from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has won the Gold Medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Held every four years, the Tchaikovsky is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.
Hakhnazaryan's journey to the Gold Medal involved some controversy when, during a rehearsal with the Armenian cellist, Russian conductor Mark Gorenstein told his orchestra, “Don’t let it concern you at all what this talent, this aul [a small village in the mountains; meant to indicate lack of respect] presented to us is playing. Your task is to play what is written there in the score and to do it with me.” [source: Independent Journalists' Network] Gorenstein was quickly called out by the press for the racial and nationalist overtones of his remark, and he later issued an apology. The cellist, though, kept his head cool, saying, “All is well. My head, my thoughts are now only on the competition. I am concentrating on the music for my upcoming performance in the finals.”
Hakhnazaryan was born in 1988 in Yerevan, Armenia. At the age of 12, Mr. Hakhnazaryan began studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov. Working with Lawrence Lesser, he is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory of Music. He plays a 1698 David Tecchler cello, on loan from Valentine Saarmaa, granddaughter of the renowned luthier Jacques Francais.
Here is Hakhnazaryan in performance at Boston's Old South Meeting House:
(image courtesy Tchaikovsky Competition)
HAKHNAZARYAN ON LIVE FROM FRASER