From KGB Attempted Recruit to New York Residency

The Remarkable Journey of Russia’s Renowned Pianist and Conservatory Chair

Born in Berdyansk, Ukraine, and hailed as a maestro in the great Romantic tradition, Mikhail Voskresensky’s story is a testament to the indomitable spirit of artistic freedom.

In the heart of a tumultuous era, Mikhail’s passion for music lit the path for his remarkable career and eventual defection from Russia to the United States. Trained under the legendary Lev Oborin, winner of the First International Chopin Piano Competition, Voskresensky rose to prominence, dazzling audiences worldwide. In the 1960s, the USSR sought to showcase his talent in demonstration of the artistic might of the USSR. However, when Voskresensky refused to assist the KGB during his tour, it was abruptly canceled, taking 13 long years before the state again allowed him to tour the West.

In February of 2022, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Voskresensky played a concert in the glittery Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, where he chaired the Piano Program. It was a poignant concert, as he received a warm response from Yoheved Kaplinsky, a professor at Juilliard, who offered him a way to escape to the United States through an invitation to teach master classes at the Aspen Music Festival. After months of navigating vaccine hurdles, visa constraints and slow-moving bureaucracies, Voskresensky and his family arrived safely in the United States. 

Mr. Voskresensky admits the only painful aspect of his new American life has proved the inability to fit a proper piano into his rented New York apartment, though the Steinway factory in New York had offered to loan him one of their finest instruments after an impromptu concert.

Internationally acclaimed for his command of contrasting musical colors and a legato technique that draws forth a soulful voice from the piano, Mikhail’s performances leave audiences in awe. And for the first time, Kansas City’s piano enthusiasts will have the chance to experience his magnificence in person. Park International Center for Music will present this virtuoso pianist to kickstart their 2023-2024 season, Sept. 22, 2023, 7:30 p.m., at the 1900 Building. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to step into Voskresensky’s enchanting world of music, where a pianist’s bravery knows no bounds.

Mikhail Voskresensky, a man whose captivating journey never dampened his unwavering focus on the arts, once declared in an interview with The Atlantic, “I never wanted to be a political person. I’m a man of the arts.” 

Program information and tickets can be found at ICM.PARK.EDU.

CategoriesArts Consortium
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KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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