He may be young, but Russian-American violinist Artur Kaganovskiy is considered one of the finest violinists of our time.
Kaganovskiy will be in Savannah on Feb. 16 for a concert of virtuoso violin favorites to benefit the Savannah Friends of Music. Discovered in the Soviet Union by Isaac Stern when he was just 7 years old, Kaganovskiy will be accompanied by pianist Eric Clark, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
Clark is himself an emerging star who debuted in 2011 in the International Piano Series in Charleston, S.C. He has performed extensively in the United States and Europe.
The program will include Mozart's Sonata in G major, Brahms' Sonata No. 2 in A major ("Meistersinger"), Kreisler's Recitative and Scherzo, as well as Sarasate's Gypsy Airs.
Now in its 11th year, SFOM is a nonprofit organization which has donated more than $500,000 to nurture young musical talent in Savannah and support professional music organizations. Grants are given to students to provide music education in the form of private music lessons and summer music camps.
Kaganovskiy and Clark are being brought to Savannah by Philip Greenberg, former music director and conductor of the Savannah Symphony Orchestra and current artistic director and conductor of the Kiev Philharmonic.
"Kaganovskiy's unique and distinctively rich sound, superb musicianship and outstanding interpretations, accompanied by the talented Eric Clark, will make this one of the most memorable concerts ever given in Savannah," Greenberg says.
"We're once again the grateful recipient of Philip Greenberg's generosity," says Lynne Davis, past president and event chair of the SFOM. "He is very close to Artur and supportive of Artur and coaches him whenever Artur wants.
"One day back in the summer, Philip and I were having lunch and his phone rang," she says. "It was Artur, who asked to speak to me. He asked, 'When can I come back to Savannah, Lynne?'"
SFOM hosted Kaganovskiy last April for a concert.
"He loved it here," Davis says.
"I was privileged to spend a whole afternoon taking him and his wife, Eszter Szilveszter, all around Savannah. He kept raving about how pretty Savannah was."
The audience also raved.
"They stood up and cheered," Davis says. "At the reception, so many people stayed to talk to him.
"He's so utterly compelling and charming, so down to earth. He's a genuinely fine man.
"We are doing one of the parties a la carte on the 18th and it immediately sold out," she says. "Last year, Artur and Eszter serenaded the group, but this time, it's Artur and Eric, his pianist."
One of the reasons the concert will be at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church is because of the Steinway piano it has.
"You know the pianist has to be phenomenal or he couldn't play with someone like Artur," Davis says.
Among the many beneficiaries of the SFOM is the Atlantic Armstrong Youth Orchestra. Last April, Kaganovskiy spoke with members of the orchestra and signed autographs for them.
"He's absolutely delightful to be around," Davis says. "He's a joy to watch.
"He trained in ballet and ice skating and, of course, the violin. He said he had a Russian Jewish mother and she was determined he was going to be successful at something. Now he's a world-class violinist.
"The way he moves is so incredibly beautiful to watch," Davis says. "He feels every note of music and communicates wonderfully with the audience and the pianist with lots of eye contact and camaraderie."
In addition to the concert, SFOM fundraisers include the parties de la carte and a spring fashion show. Beneficiaries include the AAYO, the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra, VOICExperience, Savannah Children's Choir and scholarships for private music lessons and music camps.
"We've already raised $530,000 in the past 10 years," Davis says. "If we do really well this year, it could easily top $600,000."