George P. Borisov and I are elated to announce that four of The Drozdoff Society's greatest supporters and most dedicated promulgators of Vladimir N. Drozdoff’s legacy have accepted nominations to become Artists-in-Residence, in perpetuity. They are Paul Carasco, Alexander Kouguell, Kirill Monorosi, and A Ramon Rivera. We have also posthumously nominated distinguished artist, pedagogue, and great friend––Phillip Kawin––for the same honor.
You have seen each of their names in my postings over the years. Below, you may read of their contributions to the Drozdoff legacy and their own career accomplishments.
Paul Carasco, President and Founder of Master Performers, producer at Classical Film and Sound, pianist, and Barrister.
Paul Carasco and I first met in June 2014. Paul introduced me to Phillip Kawin and Steven Epstein. Our friendship and working partnership were soon underway. Paul took an immediate liking to Vladimir Drozdoff’s compositions and he committed to helping me with all our projects, and has been doing so ever since.
Paul began his piano studies with Dr Anthony Doheny and later with Joyce Bennett OAM. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium under Oleg Stepanov and Natasha Vlassenko. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern Queensland, going to the Bar as a Barrister-at-Law in October 2021.
Paul founded Master Performers in 2002 and launched the label at Steinway Hall in New York in 2008 with its first recording of pianist Phillip Kawin. He has recorded other internationally renowned artists including Gerard Schwarz, Nigel Gaynor, Anton Kuerti, Nikolai Demidenko, Sergio Tiempo, Eivind Aadland, Vassilis Christopoulos, Vyacheslav Gryaznov, Reed Tetzloff, Edvard Tchivzhel, Pavel Sorokin, Alexander Malofeev and Marina Yakhlakova.
In 2013, Paul turned his attention to film, noting its profound significance to the future of classical music. Robert Cummings of Classical USA wrote that his "Camera work, picture clarity and sound reproduction are first rate". Pizzicato Magazine in Belgium described it as, "Immaculate! Image and sound quality is pristine".
Alexander Kouguell, cellist, Professor Emeritus of the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, and concert cellist.
Alexander Kouguell’s connection to The Drozdoff Society dates to the Drozdoff family’s years in St. Petersburg at the start of the 20th century. His father–– composer, conductor, pianist, and professor Arkadie Kouguell (Founder of the Music Conservatory at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon)––was the student of Vladimir Drozdoff at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Alexander reached out to me (Natasha Cherny) in October 2016, astonished to have found the descendant of his father’s professor. We corresponded for four years before finally being able to meet in person as the COVID-19 vaccinations became available, and have become very, very close friends. Each of is, to the other, a last tie to our ancestors and the living embodiment of all they left for us. Alexander Kouguell was born on March 27, 1920!
Alexander Kouguell was born in Russia and is a graduate of the École Normale de Music de Paris and the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, where he majored in comparative literature. This was followed by doctoral studies at Columbia University. He has taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and was assistant principal cellist with the Baltimore Symphony. He was the principal cellist of the National Orchestral Association, the Musica Aeterna Orchestra, and the Clarion Music Society of New York.
He has toured extensively in the U.S., Europe, and the Near and Middle East. He has recorded for Columbia, Decca, Monitor, Nonesuch and CRI. He was a member of the New York Chamber Soloists and was on the faculty of the Chamber Music Conference at Bennington College. He is Professor Emeritus at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and was an active member of its faculty for 68 years.
Kirill Monorosi, lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney, Australia, and founder of La Folia Music Publications, Sydney
In late 2014, we gave Kirill access to the digital archive containing the musical legacy of Vladimir Drozdoff. Looking through these works for the first time (many of them remain unpublished), he found that the music appealed to him and immediately felt that audiences would share his enthusiasm.
Kirill began suggesting Drozdoff’s works to his piano students (they include a mix of piano majors, minors and ensemble students from two tertiary institutions in Sydney) as an alternative and/or supplement to well-known, standard repertoire for their exams and recitals. A number of students took up the challenge of preparing and presenting these works (a considerable challenge to young pianists due to a lack of recordings and therefore of an established performance tradition). The feedback from students and colleagues who heard these works was very positive. As well as gaining invaluable insights into developing a unique interpretation through study of the score alone, students became very fond of the music, and some works may even become part of their permanent repertoire!
This coming academic year, Kirill Monorosi will assign the newly engraved Preludes of Drozdoff to his students.
Kirill Monorosi is an Australian pianist, composer and musicologist.
Prior to completing his PhD in musicology in 2014 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he completed a professional training course at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatorium and studied at the Franz Liszt Hochschule für Musik in Weimar, Germany, where he received Diplom und Aufbau A degrees in piano performance.
Kirill was a Finalist and Diploma Prize-Winner of the 2009 J. S. Bach International Piano Competition in Würzburg, and has been awarded numerous other awards, including the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), two Robert Hatherley Scholarships and a J. S. Bach Foundation Research Grant (Germany). In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Churchill Fellowship to continue his research into previously unpublished piano works in various archives in Europe. This resulted in the discovery of numerous previously unpublished and uncatalogued works by a member of the ‘Mighty Handful’ César Cui, and Alexander Glazunov. Works Kirill has since edited for publication.
As a performer, Kirill has given recitals with solo, chamber music and concertos in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Australia and Russia, with repertoire ranging from the English virginalists to works produced in collaboration with contemporary Australian composers. In 2009, he was invited to perform a solo recital on Liszt’s piano in the Liszt Museum, Weimar. In 2012, in a series of lecture-recitals he performed the world premiere of César Cui’s Variations-Preludes Op. 104. In 2016 he recorded the first book of J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in Germany, and released a live recording of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations.
Kirill is passionate about music education, and participates and organises numerous events, including masterclasses and festivals (such as the Piano Teachers Festivals held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music). He maintains a busy teaching schedule at his studio in Sydney. A number of his students have won full music scholarships at leading schools in Sydney, and have achieved success in local, national and international competitions, performing in venues such Carnegie Hall (New York), the Mozarteum (Salzburg), and the Sydney Opera House. Kirill is often invited to lecture and give masterclasses Internationally. He is a Diploma Examiner for the AMEB, and has adjudicated for various eisteddfods and competitions, including the Sydney Eisteddfod. From 2017 he is the Artistic director and Co-chair of the Jury of the J. S. Bach International Piano Competition in Würzburg, Germany.
In 2021, he published his Op. 1 - 24 Etudes for piano, one of the first collections of piano work in all 24 keys by an Australian composer. In 2022, he completed his Op. 2 - Clavier-Büchlein (Little piano book) with numerous solo and duo works composed specifically for children.
Angel Ramón Rivera, Professor of the New England Conservatory’s Pre-College Division
We at the Drozdoff Society call Professor Rivera “Angel” (the A. in A. Ramón Rivera) because we feel he is aptly named as such. In 2014, Professor Rivera was the very first pedagogue anywhere in the world to take an active interest in the compositions of Vladimir Drozdoff. In the 2018-2019, academic year, when the Society had published its first volume of Miniatures, Professor Rivera assigned the entire book of 25 works to his students and had them perform them in a concert at the New England Conservatory in June 2019. George Borisov and I were both in attendance, as was another Artist-in-Residence, Asiya Korepanova.
A Ramon Rivera is the former Director of England Conservatory’s Preparatory School, where he continues to chair Piano Seminars. Mr. Rivera also teaches Piano Pedagogy at the college level at New England Conservatory.
In addition to his teaching work at NEC, Mr. Rivera has taught piano at The Rivers School Conservatory since 1977, where he is also Director Emeritus and founder of the Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young. His performances include work with The Boston Pops, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Tanglewood Music Festival, and he has been honored with fellowships at Tanglewood and Castle Hill. He has also taught masterclasses throughout the United States and served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), and other granting organizations.
Mr. Rivera is the author of To Music and Children with Love: Reflections for Parents & Teachers. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the New England Conservatory and studied with pianists J.M. Sanroma, Fernando Valenti, Mikos Schwalb, Howard Goding, Felix Wolfes and John Moriarty.
Our posthumous nominee, Phillip Kawin, was another of The Drozdoff Society’s earliest friends and a member of its Advisory Board. He performed works by Drozdoff in solo recitals in New Haven and Stamford, Connecticut. A third solo recital was planned for New York City, but had to be canceled when his beloved father fell ill. We were never able to reschedule that concert, and it was instead Professor Kawin’s sudden and completely unexpected death on September 9, 2021, that brought his New York and international family of friends, colleagues, and most of all, students together in an outpouring of grief and tributes.
Phillip Kawin developed a highly individual pedagogical approach that established him as a much sought-after artist teacher. His concepts evolved through an eclectic background of training that combined a variety of artistic and esthetic influences. He created a teaching methodology that presents the principles of technique and musicianship in a detailed analytical approach—an approach that did not ignore the intuitive aspect of music-making. Mr. Kawin studied with Jules Gentil at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, in New York City with Howard Aibel (who was Rosina Lhevinne’s assistant), and later with Dora Zaslavsky (who had studied with Backhaus and Bauer) at Manhattan School of Music. In 1989, Mr. Kawin was appointed to the college faculty of Manhattan School of Music, where he worked with a select studio of advanced, gifted pupils from diverse corners of the globe.
Mr. Kawin’s students have won top honors in the Young Concert Artists Auditions as well as in the Martha Argerich International, Jacob Flier International, World Piano, Kosciuszko, Thelonious Monk International (jazz piano), Melilla in Spain, Heida Hermanns, Soulima Stravinsky International, Josef Hofmann, Mieczyslaw Munz, Leschetizky, and Long–Thibaud Crespin International competitions. Phillip Kawin was in constant demand at premier international conferences and festivals, having given his renowned lectures and insightful master classes in Russia, Hong Kong, Israel, China, Korea, Taiwan, the U.S., and throughout Australia. He was in residence for more than 18 years at the PianoSummer at New Paltz (New York) International Institute/Festival, and taught regularly at the Summit (New York) Music Festival, the International Academy of Music in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (Italy), and the Beijing International Music Festival & Academy (China). He was a guest adjudicator for such competitions as the Beethoven International Piano Competition Vienna, Bösendorfer (four times), USASU International Piano Competition, Sydney International, Van Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, and the Tchaikovsky International Competition for Young Musicians. He is featured on five DVDs for Excellence in Music, Inc., recorded live at the World Piano Pedagogy Conferences.
Phillip Kawin received critical acclaim for his performances in venues all over the world—from Sydney’s Angel Place Recital Hall to Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall. As recitalist and soloist with orchestra, Phillip Kawin performed in the U.S., Korea, Italy, Spain, Russia, Asia, and Australia. Kawin’s performances may be heard on the Master Performers Distinguished Artists Label. He released a critically acclaimed recording of works by Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann and Prokofiev. He recorded an all-Schubert CD for Master Performers Label released in 2015. Most recently, Mr. Kawin gave master classes at both the DMZ and the Busan international festivals in South Korea; the Harvard Club in New York (the first-ever class at that historic venue); Summit Music Festival; and for the Sibelius Academy in Finland, through the Symposium and Practicum in Synchronous Distance Learning. Phillip Kawin was a Steinway Artist.
Kawin served as a faculty representative for the Manhattan School of Music Board of Trustees (2008–2011) and most recently as Chair of the College Faculty Council. He was a member of the Manhattan School of Music College faculty since 1989 and of the Precollege faculty since 1986.