Pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch won the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001 which set in motion an international career of which most musicians can only dream. Photo courtesy Park University.
Stanislav loudenitch said he wanted to be a big fish in a little pond. But ultimately, he’s ended up being a very big fish in the very big pond of the international classical music community. In 2001, Ioudenitch won the Gold Medal in the extremely competitive Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. And the rest, as they say, is history. But his history also involved bringing that international music community, and the attention that it deserves, right here to Kansas City.
Born in 1971 to a family of musicians in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, loudenitch started playing the piano at age 7. Driven to succeed from a young age, he was accepted into some of the world’s most reputable music schools including the Upensky School of Music in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the Reina Sofia School of Music in Madrid, Spain (where he studied with famed pianist Dmitri Bashkirov) and the International Piano Foundation in Cadenabbia, Italy (which is now the International Piano Academy Lake Como). He studied with the leading piano pedagogues of the world. But with the dream of coming to the United States, loudenitch applied to and was accepted at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
In 1997, his path next took him to the Midwest to study with Robert Weirich and serve as associate professor of piano at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and, luckily for us, he never left. “I called my wife and said, ‘I think this will work. This city is a little Europe,’” said loudenitch. He had found his way to Kansas City and decided to bring his wife and tiny daughter, Maria, to join him. That year, he was accepted into the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, but a terrible accident burned his hands and kept him from finishing the competition. After his hands healed, loudenitch won top prizes in several international competitions, as well as at the 1998 Palm Beach Invitational and the 2000 New Orleans International. However, loudenitch had not forgotten The Cliburn and he set his sights on competing again and winning.
And win he did! His win at the 11th Van Cliburn Competition led to a recital debut at the Aspen Music Festival and a European tour, highlighted by appearances at summer festivals in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. loudenitch’s wife, a pianist, too, began teaching in Kansas City, and the loudenitch family made the Midwest their home. Since then, they have lived happily ever after.
But that is not the end of this story.
“I wanted to create the experience which I lived through. I remember my musical education from the beginning. I wanted to recreate that,” said loudenitch. With the right combination of connections and a university committed to creating a music program, the International Center for Music at Park University was born.
Park University Trustee, Benny Lee, supported loudenitch’s vision for creating a small, boutique conservatory based upon the principles of the European master/apprentice relationship. “Thank goodness for the foresight of Benny Lee that he connected Stanislav to Park University’s President at the time. Because of his resolve to make it happen, there is truly no other conservatory like it in the United States,” said Lisa Hickok, Executive Director of the International Center for Music, adding, “Students come from all over the world to Parkville, Missouri, to train in this extremely intimate environment with the goal of becoming international concert musicians. That is the foundational principle of the program. Individual, one-on-one intensive training at the highest level. And we’re succeeding!”
Twenty years later, loudenitch’s six hand-picked faculty and two staff members lead the International Center for Music. With no more than 30 students in a given year, it is known to be a family environment. “We give whatever is needed to develop a great talent. That is unique. We are here to help. And every single person tries to do their best to help our precious talents,” furthered loudenitch. In less than 20 years, the International Center for Music has had too many award-winning students to mention them all. But among them are, pianist Behzod Abduraimov (who travels the world, performing with leading orchestras and conductors); Kenny Broberg (one of the most decorated pianists of his generation who won medals in three International Competitions culminating in top prize of the American Pianists Awards last year); David Radzynski (one of the youngest concertmasters in the world who recently won said position with The Cleveland Orchestra).
Hickok furthered, “It is a dream situation for any concert musician. Most importantly, European tradition stresses public concerts as part of student training.” The Center presents intimate concerts from September through May in sublime locations throughout the metro. But the best Park ICM concert to experience is Stanislav & Friends. Held this year on March 11th, 2023, 7 p.m., at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, it offers two hours of Park ICM’s most celebrated alumni, students and faculty, all on one stage for one night. “Our students become award-winning musicians, traveling the world and entertaining the most discerning music lovers across all continents. Stanislav & Friends brings them all home to Kansas City to perform together and celebrate their mentors. If you love classical music, it is simply not to be missed,” emphasized Hickok.
We couldn’t be more grateful that fate brought Stanislav loudenitch to Kansas City and with it, his friends and his music for all to enjoy. More information can be found at ICM.PARK.EDU.