Letter from Kyiv
On the eve of the Horowitz Competition Kyiv- Geneva, which will begin on 13 April, Iryna Polstiankina writes about her thoughts, feelings, and expectations
When we say out loud that the Horowitz competition is about to begin in Geneva, we almost do not believe it’s true, even though the event is only a few days away. We never dreamed it would be possible. However, we always believed that our trusted friends would not leave us behind in our moment of need, and our friends have exceeded all expectations…
Around thirty years ago the Horowitz competition team met for the first time. The team worked tirelessly for the whole year so that for 10 days in the spring, residents and guests of Kyiv, Horowitz’s beloved city, could enjoy the music of talented youth who dreamed of leaving a mark on the history of music – just like the great Master. Meetings, master classes, tours, daily work, everything was done so that the world could learn about the beautiful city where Horowitz was born, where he grew up, studied, polished his technique, and took his first steps in his long and triumphant career. For thirty years, we relished this routine, but on February 23, 2023, that routine was broken.
Nevertheless, we kept working in the hopes that, come April, we could hold our competition. However, it was not possible to welcome our friends to our home. We cannot shield our city from all the dangers that bear down on it.
When the WFIMC offered to hold the competition in Geneva, they extended to us the missing piece that we needed to keep our competition alive. The winter was extremely long, but between the air raid sirens and the tracking of drones and enemy aircraft, we plunged headlong into our work, not letting fear break us. When darkness engulfed Kyiv, we lit candles and wrote notes on paper. We worked both day and night, synchronizing work schedules with blackout schedules. In the suburbs of Kyiv, our graphic designer's computer came to life several times a day, trying to save her work before an expected shutdown. In the darkness of a sleeping city, with a baby in her arms and a toddler hugging her under the blanket, our editor started the night shift. Connecting to the network after a blackout, texts were sent to the Netherlands to be translated into English by our social marketing manager, working from trains, cafes, and refugee hostels. Time lost its usual meaning. Our work WhatsApp chat "Horowitz C. Kyiv-Geneva" was like an emergency hotline, solving work issues non-stop – at dawn, in the middle of the night, at evening tea, during Christmas holidays, and on vacations...
And now, finally, April has come! The countdown is now measured in hours... We wait with growing excitement for the first contestant to take the stage of Franz Liszt Hall on April 12. We dream of hearing the finalists playing with the orchestra on April 21 at Victoria Hall. We look forward to hearing the names of the winners, who will become an integral part of the Horowitz competition family from now on. However, winning is not what will make the competition special this year.
Today, in some strange way, we are repeating the fate of Vladimir Horowitz. Born in Kyiv, he was never able to return to his native city, but only a competition in his memory was able to return his immortal name to his homeland. Today, we face the same challenge that once faced Horowitz. But in the fight for the right to return home, we stand side by side with extraordinary people who know the price of freedom and who are ready to defend it together with us – those to whom we owe this event – our partners from the World Federation of International Music Competitions. They give us confidence that this twist of fate will have a grand finale!
Iryna Polstiankina is the President of International Charitable Fund of Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition
Homepage of the competition: www.horowitzv.ch
©WFIMC 2023 Cover Photo: ©Serhiy Ristenko