Keyboard Concerts welcomes Vadym Kholodenko, its second Cliburn gold medalist within a month


What’s more impressive than having a Van Cliburn International Competition gold medalist performing in your piano series? Try two. Just a few weeks after the sold-out performance of South Korea piano sensation Yunchan Lim — which had to be moved from the Fresno State Concert Hall to the larger Shaghoian Hall at Clovis North — Keyboard Concerts welcomes another member of the V.C. Gold Club: Vadym Kholodenko.

I’m told that tickets are still available for tonight’s concert (7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at the Fresno State Concert Hall).

I got a chance to talk for a few minutes this morning with Kholodenko, who was getting ready to rehearse at Fresno State. A few quick highlights:

The concert: Kholodenko put a lot of thought into the structure of the program, which sandwiches Schubert between Prokofiev. Though the composers were hundreds of years apart, there’s a lot of similarities between Prokofiev’s use of modern musical language in his Sonata in A major and the classical structure of the Schubert Sonata in E-flat major. Essentially, Prokofiev uses perfect sonata form, but modernized. That connection fascinates Kholodenko.

The Cliburn gold medal: “It was a huge boost for my career, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. However, he won other prestigious competitions (the 2010 Sendai International Piano Competition was one), so it wasn’t all the Cliburn, he says.

He’s a travel gold medalist, too: In the past week he’s performed in Orange County, then flew to Miami, then flew to Fresno.


The war in Ukraine: Born in Kyiv, Kholodenko aches for the devastation wrought upon his home country. He doesn’t usually talk during his concerts — “my language is music” — so doesn’t incorporate his personal views into his performances. But he notes that the Prokofiev sonata is unofficially known as one of the three “War Sonatas,” and the piece incorporates a reference at the end of the first movement to Ukrainian folk music. “I think it will speak for itself,” he says.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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