My Fulbright journey began in the summer of 1985, a year before I received my grant, when I was a scholarship student at Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau where I met the eminent Prof. Neaman. He was an enormous inspiration. The summer experience of private lessons, solo performances as well as chamber music performances with great colleagues and faculty at the Fontainebleau Chateau was unforgettable. We developed an excellent working relationship, and he encouraged me to come to London, where I could further my studies with him in an intense program “The Advanced Solo Studies Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama” after completing my Masters of Music at Manhattan School of Music. That summer was made extra special for me, as I also met my future wife in Fontainebleau (whom I married nine years later).
I was overwhelmed when I was notified about winning the grant. I remember how fortunate and lucky I felt of such a privilege to represent my country which enabled me to fulfil my dream of furthering my studies with Yfrah Neaman. I even received congratulations letters from the Senator and Governor of New York State. It was a culmination of hard work and great dreams which began for me in Odessa, Ukraine (formerly USSR) when I was seven years old at the School of Stolyarski (school for gifted children). I was now a very proud naturalized American and a Fulbright Recipient.
Prof. Neaman was a man of great integrity and encouraged us (his students) to be true to style, musical details, and honesty in music and in life. He advocated for the violinist as artist rather than merely a virtuoso. He carried on an important legacy of Carl Flesch and Max Rostal with whom he studied. Prof. Neaman taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1958 until his death in 2003, first as Professor of Violin, then as Head of Advanced Solo Studies. He was also Artistic Director of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition from 1968 to 1990. He was also instrumental in the launch of the Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition in 1979 (from 1988 the London International String Quartet Competition), of which he was joint artistic director with Yehudi Menuhin.
The lessons were in masterclass format where we as students performed in front of each other for Prof. Neaman. His class was comprised of top-notch players from all over the world, many of whom were already major competition winners and today they are soloists, professors, chamber musicians, a list of “Who’s Who in Music”. It was a remarkable atmosphere. I learned to appreciate many different genres and styles of music and realized that there are many possibilities in having a successful career in music.
I was lucky to share a house with my good friend and fellow student of Prof. Neaman, Sung-Sic Yang (a 1st prize winner of Carl Flesch competition, Lipizer and Paganini), whom I had met at Fontainebleau and another fellow Fulbright recipient Dileep Gangoli (clarinetist), who was coming from the Seattle Symphony (which became my orchestra eight years later). It was a time of intense study in violin and composition, filled with soirees of chamber music and visits to the Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall seeing great concerts.
The experience allowed me to forge lasting friendships with people who are now on top of their professions, and opened opportunities to performances in Germany, France, England and led to participation in chamber music festivals in United States and Portugal, a place I adore, and a festival I participated in for seven years at the scenic city of Sintra.
Also, these formative experiences later led to solo performances with Kensington Philharmonic of London, Carmel Bach Festival, New York Symphonic Ensemble tour of Japan and South East Asia, Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra (Odessa, Ukraine) and Seattle Symphony.
Upon my return, I started a career as a prolific studio recording artist. To date, I have performed in over 850 soundtracks including Heart’s The Road Home album, Dave Matthews Band, and award winning movie scores such as “Revenant” among many others. My film appearances include an award-winning motion picture FAME, and the premiere episode of The Equalizer.
I have also been soloist/concertmaster in collaboration with Rod Stewart, Linda Rondstatt, Tony Bennett, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Heart and many others. I was also a member of NY Chamber Symphony and Mostly Mozart Festival. I am a member of Seattle Symphony Orchestra since 1994, a founding member of the ODEONQUARTET with which I toured Russia (twice), Ukraine and Saint Martin in the Caribbean, owner of Filimonov Fine Violins, Expert/Appraiser and I am also a writer/contributor for STRAD magazine and Tarisio’s Carteggio Section. I am an extremely fortunate and proud Fulbright Scholar. Thank you Fulbright Association.
Fulbrighter to England 1986-1987
Advanced Violin Solo studies course with the eminent Yfrah Neaman OBE at Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London, England)