“Yes, it is very exciting for me that I will participate at the Cliburn 36 years after my father,” Nikita Mndoyants, 24, told us.
His father, Russian pianist Alexander Mndoyants (it’s pronounced Mn-DOY-ants), shared a fifth place prize at the Fifth Van Cliburn competition in 1977, well before son Nikita was born. (The Cliburn no longer awards fifth and sixth place prizes, but it once did so.) It’s been just over 50 years since the first competition in 1962, and this is the first time the child of a former competitor will appear on the Cliburn stage.
Though Mndoyants is coming alone to Texas, he will be among old friends of the family: he will stay with Renie and Sterling Steves of Fort Worth, who were the host family for his father. The two families have remained friends through the years. This is his first visit to Texas, and he hopes to soak in some of the “atmosphere of the area”—and maybe, he mentions, see “a ranch.”
Alexander Mndoyants, who has had a long career as a concert pianist and recording artist, also is a much-respected teacher at the Moscow Conservatory—and son Nikita was one of his students.
“My father has helped me always during my musical education,” says Nikita, who adds that his father’s “wise advices” come in both musical and non-musical form.
Nikita Mndoyants gave his first public recital at 10, and released his first recording at the age of 11. He and three other young pianists were featured in a 2000 documentary film, Russia’s Wonder Children, and he has toured throughout the world. He likes jazz, long-distance walking or bicycling, and authors from Bulgakov to Dostoevsky to Thomas Mann.
He is an up-and-coming composer, too. Mndoyants was the resident composer at 2012’s Wissembourg Festival in the French region of Alsace, and in 2007, Classical records released two CDs of his own compositions.
“For me, it is very important to find ways to touch the listener,” he says. “I think composers must try new features, sound combinations or techniques that will keep the attention of an audience. But on the other hand, a composer should be connected with tradition, and with the spirit of culture in his native country.”
Travel is one way he expands his imagination as a performer and composer, he says—another reason he’s excited about coming to Texas.
“I love to talk with interesting people [in new places] who can share their experiences.”
◊ Here is a video of Nikita Mndoyants performing at the Wissembourg Festival in 2012:
Nikita Mndoyants' Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire:
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, op. 111
CHOPIN Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, op. 61
PROKOFIEV Scherzo op. 12, no. 10
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
BACH Toccata in F-sharp Minor, BWV 910
HAYDN Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI:6
TANEYEV Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp Minor, op. 29
BABADJANIAN Six Pictures
SCARLATTI Sonata in G Minor, K. 476
SCARLATTI Sonata in B Minor, K. 87
SCARLATTI Sonata in G Major, K. 125
DEBUSSY From Preludes, Books I and II
DEBUSSY La cathédrale englouitie
DEBUSSY La puerta del vino
DEBUSSY Feux d’artifice
MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition
BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 16
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.