Diana Tishchenko: my music delivers messages in support of the Ukrainians

Diana Tishchenko and Zoltán Fejérvári enjoy working together both on stage and in the recording studio. She is from Ukraine and he is from Hungary, she is a violinist and he is a pianist, she is part of the Rising Stars programme and he is happy to accompany her there. I asked both musicians about what they expect from their upcoming concert.

Diana, as a Rising Star, can you tell us a bit about how your career started?

Diana Tishchenko: Very early – I had my first competition at the age of seven. My first violin teacher was my aunt, a professional violinist. Then more competitions came, and I progressed and progressed, always wishing to be better from the very start. It’s been a long way with ups and downs, and a lot of exciting discoveries. And it will always be.

When I heard that ECHO chose me to be part of the Rising Stars programme, I felt very honoured, of course. But developing a career and musicianship are two different things.

Zoltán, as a musician with a bit more experience in performing and teaching, what would you advise to the early career colleagues in the Rising Stars programme?

Zoltán Fejérvári: They shall listen to even more music, and go to the theatre even more times, and play chamber music, and spend time in nature… And they shouldn’t ever worry whether they have enough followers on social media.

This is not your first joint work together. Can you tell me a bit more about the album you recorded some years ago?

ZF: We recorded it in 2019 at Warner Classics. Diana won this possibility as the prize of a renowned musical competition. Our common musical mentors introduced us to each other. We haven’t played together before, but fortunately we had the chance to give some concerts where we could ‘practice’ what eventually made it to the CD. Both the recording process and the repertoire – Ravel, Enescu, Prokofiev – were very enjoyable.

DT: Yes, I got to know Zoltán through Rita Wagner and András Schiff, in Berlin. It is hard to realise that Rita, who has granted so much inspiration in music to me, is not with us anymore… I remember she was so happy to hear the news back then about two of us playing together in Budapest.. the very concert she cannot anymore.

Zoltán and I recorded the above mentioned album in Paris within about 2-3 days. And I am especially fond of the repertoire. All the composers were connected to Paris of the early 20th century. Even
Prokofiev, who actually originated from the Donbass area. Interesting fact is that the destroyed in 2014 airport of Donetsk was carrying his name.

I also cherish the memory of playing with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in May: it was also an enormous pleasure.

Sounds like you like to perform with Hungarians…

DT: Yes, and I am looking forward to working with Zoltán again. He has a very intelligent approach to music. One of the pieces at the Rising Stars concert, the Beethoven Sonata op.12, n.3 is the first piece the two of us played together by the time we met. I’m also excited to go deep to the Bartók rhapsody. I admire Bartók, always a challenge for me, and this Rhapsody is not played very often.

Diana Tishchenko

Zoltán Fejérvári

ZF: Diana and I have given various concerts organised by ECHO. The programmes have been diverse: from Bach through Schubert to Gubaidulina, many styles and eras have been included. This made them very different from our album.

Rising Stars has the tradition of involving a brand-new piece by a contemporary composer at every concert. What will we hear this time?

DT: It is A Box of Darkness with a Bird in Its Heart by Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça. For violin solo. We have worked on this piece during the pandemic with the help of online meetings. It’s a unique work, and as every contemporary piece it reflects the situation and state of mind of the present – the part I appreciate particulary. It s a colorful piece with elements of dance, birdsong and ostinate rhythm. The main palette is dark though.

I guess these times must be very hard for you, Diana.

DT: Certainly, the war in Ukraine has a huge psychical impact on me. Although I live abroad since many years, it is impossible to shut out the anxiety that comes from the terrible situation concerning my homeland. There are also phases: apart from all us musicians playing restlessly charity concerts from the beginning of the horror, it was totally new to me being involved in volunteer work, chasing online for medical equipment and “building bridges” to deliver any help to those in need.

But I find strength in the common will to act. We see that being united has a huge power. The cultural messages, through music in my case, are essential in these times. This is a way to nourish the soul, show the strength of spirit and give consolation. Just in this month of November there are 2 concerts in Germany – Bruch concert with Ukrainian national orchestra and Ukrainian youth symphony orchestra. If I can have the function of an ambassador from the world of culture, I am happy to do so in order to support Ukraine.