20 years of Russian television…in Melbourne

May 30, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Melbourne=based Sputnik Russian Cultural and Television Association will celebrate its 20th anniversary on television with a gala concert featuring world-class musicians at St Kilda Town Hall at the end of June.

The concert will feature classical and jazz works by Rachmaninov, Chopin, Liszt, Vivaldi, Gershwin, Verdi and others will be performed by an outstanding line up of musicians and singers, mostly from the former Soviet Union.

Included among the performers will be two husband-and-wife duos –Mark Mogilevski (violin) and Elena Mogilevski (piano) and Yuriy Mougerman (balalaika) and Isabella Mougerman (piano), pianists Boris Guslitser, Mikhail Solovei, and Larissa Oberfeld, violin virtuoso Evgeny Sorkin, Alex Vengerovski (percussion), Nastya Barishnikov (jazz player), Peter Petrucci (guitarist), and singers Nadia Tcherkassova, Mary Mass, Alexander Pokryshevsky and Lara Khronovska.

Also on the bill are young dancers from the Inspiration Dance School and LIDER Sunday Russian School.

Anna and Gregory Vaisman   Photo: Carmel Shute

Anna and Gregory Vaisman Photo: Carmel Shute

Over the past 20 years, Sputnik Russian Cultural and Television Association has produced over 1700 weekly Russian-language “Sputnik” television programs on Channel 31 and organised 12 concerts, each of which attracted more than 500 people. Its first concert was held in 2008 to mark the re-opening of St Kilda Town Hall.

Sputnik President Gregory Vaisman arrived in Australia with his wife Anna and one of their three children in 1991, part of a large group of Jews who left Ukraine in the dying days of the Soviet Union. With 28 years experience as a telecommunications engineer, he expected to have no problems getting work.

Vaisman said: “However, I came up against Keating’s ‘recession we had to have’ and couldn’t find a job. Nor could Anna, who was a science teacher. That’s why we decided to set up Sputnik. It’s kept us busy – very busy – and we’ve been grateful for the opportunity. It’s been one way of paying back Australia.”

He added: “I was an amateur with a camera but had always wanted to make television. In 1958 – the year after the Sputnik satellite went up – I applied to the television faculty at university but though I got 23 out of a possible 25 marks in the entrance exams, I was excluded. It wasn’t until I went to a gathering of students who had passed the exam but didn’t get in that I discovered why – it was because I was Jewish. Everyone else in the room also happened to be Jewish.” And in Australia my dreams came true!

In 1995 the Vaismans were able to take advantage of a federal grants program for ethnic television programs to set up their Russian-language program on Channel 31. Over the years, they have secured grants from the Cities of Port Phillip and Glen Eira, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and other bodies.

“Sputnik”, meaning “fellow-traveller” or “spouse” in Russian was an obvious choice for the program. The successful launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 was also a tremendous source of national pride back in the USSR as it symbolised the (temporary) victory over the USA in the space race.

Boris Guslitser    Photo: Carmel Shute

Boris Guslitser Photo: Carmel Shute

For the past 20 years Sputnik TV has been on a mission to education the Russian-speaking community about life in Australia.

“We’ve regularly cover events such Anzac Day, Sorry Day and Diversity Day. Highlights have been the Olympic Torch Relay, the Commonwealth Games and filming the Queen as she arrived by tram at Government House. We also managed to film Bill Clinton at an international business forum,” Vaisman said.

“We’ve also succeeded in our other mission – to celebrate art and culture, something hugely important to our community – and to share that love with the broader Australian community. For 15 years we’ve broadcast the Australian Dance Championships and for more than a decade we’ve covered the NGV Winter Masterpieces Exhibitions. This year the exhibition is from the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg so it’s a huge deal for us.

“Sputnik has also organised a film festival dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 11. We’ve managed to do all this thanks to a team of keen volunteers and modest amounts of funding from local and state governments.”

On life in Australia Vaisman said: “My family loves it here in Australia. It’s wonderful to be part of a multicultural society that works. What we really miss is the music but we’re doing our best to make up for that by producing concerts for everyone to enjoy.

The concert will be held on Sunday, June 21, from 5 pm-8 pm and will be recorded for broadcast on Sputnik  which goes to air for 30 minutes at 12.30pm every Sunday, and is repeated on 12.30am on Mondays.

One World – Israel Weekly is broadcast under the Sputnik banner on Thursdays at 1pm. Sputnik also broadcasts via satellite to more than 5000 subscribers. The program attracts over 200,000 unique viewers per annum according to OZTAM figures.

In the week prior to the concert, a two-hour video loop featuring works by famous Russian artists and musicians will run in the foyer at St Kilda Town Hall.

All concert seats are numbered. A light supper will be served in the interval.

Tickets $25/20 Bookings:www.trybooking.com/HPUP or phone 03 9593 8137/0411 560 880

Further information/comment: Gregory Vaisman, President, Sputnik Russian Cultural and Television, on 03 9593 8137; 0411 560 880; sputnikrctva@hotmail.com

About the performers:

Mark Mogilevski is a musician of international repute, both as a violin soloist and as an orchestral leader. He has performed as a soloist in St Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Lisbon, Porto, Genoa, Montpellier, Brasilia, Seoul and Melbourne, with such notable orchestras as St Petersburg Philharmonic, Porto Symphony, Soloists of Moscow-Montpellier and Melbourne Symphony where is currently first violinist. He also teaches violin at the University of Melbourne. Mark has worked in a duo with his wife Elena, a pianist, since 1972. http://www.mso.com.au/about-us/the-orchestra/mark-mogilevski/

Isabella Mougerman graduated from Voronezh Institute (Conservatoire) of the Arts (M.A.) in Russia, specialising in teaching piano, as an accompanist and chamber ensemble soloist. Since 1997, Isabella has lived in Melbourne. She regularly plays in concerts as an accompanist. She also works as a pianist in the Australian Ballet School, the Victorian College of the Arts and the National Theatre Ballet School. In 1998 she, together with her husband balalaika virtuoso Yuriy Mougerman, recorded a CD Balalaika Magic.

Dr Boris Guslitser: An acclaimed pianist, he graduated from the Azerbaijan State Conservatorium and won his doctorate at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatorium in St Petersburg where only three pianists are accepted annually. He won the Liszt Bartok International Pianoforte Competition where he was pronounced as one of the outstanding pianists of his generation. Dr Guslitser has performed in the USSR, the USA, Japan, Israel, Iceland, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Since arriving in Australia in 1987, his recitals have received standing ovations with critics applauding his pianoforte technique as his ability to achieve the gentle, more lyric; and poetic aspects of romantic music. He has recorded with the ABC, has taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and is now teaching privately.

Dr Mikhail Solovei: Ukrainian-born pianist, currently teaching at Monash University. Solovei has performed in Russia, Poland, the USA, Thailand, Malaysia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Since arriving in Australia in 1992, he has given recitals in the Melbourne Concert Hall, Melba Hall, Robert Blackwood Hall, the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, Sydney Opera House, Brisbane and Perth. Solovei produced two albums of piano recital with Masters Classic in Holland in 1998 and 2003. http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/mikhail-solovei/

Larissa Oberfeld: Following her graduation with honours from Moscow State Conservatory in 1982, Larissa Oberfeld began an association with Moscow Concert Society. In 1986 Larissa Oberfeld was invited to become an official accompanist for the Tchaikovsky International Competition, a post she maintained for 12 years. Larissa has performed extensively throughout the world as a soloist and accompanist with companies such as the Bolshoi Theatre, Stanislavsky Theatre, Australian Opera, and the Australian Ballet. In Australia Larissa completed her Master of Music Degree at Melbourne University. She has been part of many recordings and live broadcasts on classical radio stations. Larissa now is extensively involved in maintaining a private teaching practice and has been working with the youth at Australian Ballet School for the last 10 years. http://www.xlarts.org/about-xl/artists-of-xl/instrumentalists/larissa-oberfeld/

Evgeny Sorkin: Russian born violinist Evgeny Sorkin has been in demand as performer from a very early age. Evgeny attended the Moscow State Conservatorium and after moving to Australia studied at the Australian National Academy of Music and at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he was the first person ever to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Sydney. Evgeny has toured extensively and been awarded many prizes in international competitions. In 2009 he became a staff member at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and balances his teaching with a busy recital schedule. http://music.sydney.edu.au/people/dr-evgeny-sorkin

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