EUFSC’s New Ground-breaking Classical Music Academy in Dubai

This month witnessed the launch of the Middle East Classical Music Academy (MECMA) in Dubai, a brand new initiative from the European Foundation for Support of Culture in collaboration with the UAE-based SAMIT Event Group that promises three weeks of masterclasses with internationally-renowned performers and professors as well as daily lunchtime concerts featuring a raft of distinguished guests, including young ‘Prodigy Performers’ and invited students of the masterclasses.

This newest educational venture from the EUFSC represents a first in the region, both in its scope and the level of tuition on offer. With masterclasses taking place in the schools of piano, violin, cello, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, horn, oboe, clarinet and flute, the MECMA is noted for its considerable breadth of tuition, and claims the honour of being the largest such event to take place in the United Arab Emirates in support of classical music. Piano tutors featured encompass many internationally recognised names, including:

  • Dmitri Alexeev (UK) – Edison Award Winner, recording artist for EMI, BMG, Virgin Classics and Hyperion, prominent juror for many international competitions including the Leeds, Chopin (Warsaw), Van Cliburn, Beethoven (Vienna) and Tchaikovsky;
  • Rudolf Buchbinder (Austria) – ECHO Klassik Award winner, Gold Medal of Salzburg and Vienna recipient;
  • Pavel Gililov (Germany/Austria) – artistic director of the ‘Sommerclassics’ International Chamber Music Festival, winner of the Moscow National Piano Competition (1972) and prizewinner at the 1975 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1975);
  • Hae-Young Kim (South Korea) – president of the Piano Society in Korea, professor and head of the piano department at Chugye University for the Arts in Seoul;
  • Giuliano Mazzoccante (Italy) – winner of the 40th International Piano Competition ‘Arcangelo Speranza’ in Taranto and prizewinner of numerous other international competitions, recipient of the Prix Venice Award (1998) and Paul Harris Fellow Award, artistic director of the Cenacolo della Musica – International School;
  • Stepan Simonian (Germany) – recipient of the 2009 Berenberg Cultural Prize (Hamburg), winner of the 2005 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition (USA), third-prize winner at the 2008 Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition (USA) and Aram Khachaturian International Piano Competition in Yerevan (Armenia), tenured professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.

The Academy will take place across two courses, the first running until 13 September and the second from 14 to 23 September, with masterclasses taking place at Dubai’s famous Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, a palatial hotel situated on the West Crescent of the city’s Palm Jumeirah. As well as the classes on offer at the main location for the Academy, one masterclass with Professor Kim also took place at the National Conservatory Dubai on Sunday 6th September.

In addition to the huge amount of high-quality tuition on offer, the Middle East Classical Music Academy also presents daily lunchtime concerts featuring international soloists performing alongside the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and Kaliningrad Symphony Orchestra. Soloists appearing in the concert series include various noted pianists, such as:

  • Andrey Gugnin (Russia) – winner of the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition (including prizes for Best Overall Concerto, Best 19th/20th Century Concerto, Best Violin and Piano Sonata, and Best Preliminaries for his first-round recital), recipient of the Gold Medal and Audience Award at the XCI International Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in 2014, and second prize at the 2013 Beethoven International Piano Competition in Vienna;
  • Constanza Principe (Italy) – prizewinner of several national and international competitions including the Beethoven Society of Europe Intercollegiate Piano Competition, second prize (first not awarded) at the Premio Pecar International Competition in Gorizia (Italy), second prize at the Concours International de Piano in Lagny sur Marne, recipient of the Lilian Davies Prize from the Royal Academy of Music, three-times Winner of the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund (2013, 2014, 2015) and recipient of a Craxton Memorial Award in 2015;
  • ST-Duo featuring Sofia Sakhnova and Antonina Luzko – prizewinners of the XVIII International Maria Yudina Competition (Saint Petersburg, 2017), XI International S I Taneev Chamber Ensembles Competition (Kaluga/Moscow, 2017) and recipients of a special prize from Yamaha for Best Piano Duet at the XVIII Roma international piano competition (2018).

These daily concerts are directed by numerous leading conductors including Felix Korobov(Russia), Giuseppe Bruno (Italy), Valid Ağayev (Azerbaijan), Aleksie Niaga (Russia), Mikhail Kirchhoff (Russia), Conrad Van Alphen (Netherlands/South Africa), Arkady Feldman (Russia), Ilya Norstein (Russia) and Oliver Weder (Germany).

The Middle East Classical Music Academy also welcomes various Prodigy Performers to its stage, providing an incredible performance opportunity to young musicians who, despite their young age, have already demonstrated a keen level of technique and musicality beyond their years. Joining the MECMA for its series of lunchtime performances are pianists Ivan Bessonov, Elisey Mysin, Ivaylo Vassilev and Zahar Vnutskih, as well as violinists Sofia Leifer and Leia Zhu. Attendees of the academy will also have the opportunity to perform in the concerts, with those selected representing particularly promising and accomplished students.

This initiative is presented by the European Foundation for Support of Culture, a Malta-based organisation which seeks to promote and support culture around the world, with a particular focus on classical music. To date, the Foundation has brought a variety of projects including concerts, festivals, masterclasses, lectures, seminars and other events to numerous locations around the world spanning Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. The MECMA is taking place at the same time as the EUFSC’s renowned InClassica International Music Festival, a 30-day event being held at the famous Dubai Opera and Coca-Cola Arena, with students of the Academy entitled to complimentary tickets to the series of evening concerts featuring internationally acclaimed soloists, conductors and orchestras such as pianists Marc-André Hamelin, Rudolf Buchbinder, Denis Kozhukhin, Denis Matsuev, Mikhail Pletnev, Roustem Saitkoulov, Fazil Say, Yekwon Sunwoo, Severin von Eckardstein and Julia Zilberquit.

Konstantin Ishkhanov, president of the EUFSC, said: ‘It gives me great pleasure to bring such an exciting and high-quality programme of tuition and performance to the Middle East, and we are particularly thrilled to present our ambitious programme here in Dubai. This Academy represents the pinnacle of the EUFSC’s educational efforts, and I am very pleased to welcome such an illustrious group of professors to this event.’

The Malta Classical Music Academy takes place until 23rd September. For full details, visit the official website


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