Four Steinways, Schwob musicians star in Sunday’s concert

As excited as Alina Sarkisyan and Tatiana Muzanova are about performing in Sunday’s Steinway Piano Mania!, they’re also nervous because they’ll be performing with their professor, Alexander Kobrin.

Both women, graduate students, followed Kobrin from Russia to Columbus State University. Muzanova arrived for the 2010 fall semester and Sarkisyan came in time for the 2011 spring semester.

Kobrin, the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano, is the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner. That competition, held every four years, is considered to be one of the top competitions in the world.

The third student who will perform at Sunday’s concert is Tzuyi Chen.

The concert, at RiverCenter’s Legacy Hall, will feature four Steinway pianos.

Sarkisyan, 32, said the four pianists will perform solo, duo, trio and ensembles pieces.

One piece written for orchestra, has been arranged for four pianos by fellow student Lilya Ugay.

Kobrin, who is known for his serious demeanor, encourages his students to express themselves through their music rather than facial expressions.

“All our emotions go into our playing, not into moving around,” Sarkisyan said.

“This is different from theater,” Muzanova, 28, said.

Because CSU was holding its spring break last week, the two women were able to practice seven to eight hours a day leading up to the concert. When classes are in session, they’re only able to book practice rooms for about six hours.

Sarkisyan has found Columbus to be a friendly place to live and study.

“I’ve made friends,” she said. “I feel like I’m home here. It’s like a family.”

Sarkisyan misses Russian food, but enjoys creating her favorite dish, golubey (ground beef with rice, onions and seasoning that she makes into an elongated meatball and wraps in cabbage that’s cooked in a tomato sauce).

“I make it for my American friends and they like it,” she said.

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