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The Pergamenschikow legacy

Scenes and music from the
First International Boris Pergamenschikow
Scholarship Award Ceremony,
described by TESS CREBBIN


Tania Pergamenschikow was present at the Kronberg Academy in the German Taunus Region to award the first international Boris Pergamenschikow Scholarship on 21 October 2004. Tania is the widow of the late Boris Pergamenschikow, the Russian cellist who had been counted among the world's top twelve cellists and who had also been making a name for himself as one of the best producers of young cello talent of our time.

Until his death on 30 April this year, Pergamenschikow held a Cello Professorship at the Hanns Eisler Music Academy in Berlin. From his final class of six students, several are widely considered to be among today's most promising new generation cellists and it was one of these, Julian Arp, to whom the biannual scholarship was awarded.

Julian Arp was born in 1981. He began playing cello at the age of six. After studying with Edwin Koch for many years, he came to Pergamenschikow in 2001 and studied with him until April of this year. Arp has won a number of important awards, among them in 2002 and 2003 Best Duo at the Relais and Chateaux Chamber Music Competition together with his piano partner Caspar Frantz. He is a member of the Boviart Trio and has been performing as soloist and chamber musician at many important national and international music festivals, among them the prestigious Rheingau Music Festival. He plays on an 1839 cello by Giuseppe Antonio Rocca (Turino). For two years Arp will now receive 400 euros per month to use for educational purposes that advance his musical understanding and broaden his musical mind. The funds can be used for travel, masterclasses or whatever else the young cellist sees fit.

The award-winner: Julian Arp. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin
The award-winner: Julian Arp. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin

To commemorate the event, Claudio Bohorquez organised a wonderful concert to take place in the evening, interrupted midway by the actual awarding of the scholarship. Bohorquez had been a student, and later assistant, of Pergamenschikow for almost a decade. The concert and scholarship award ceremony took place on the same evening that the Russian cellist had been scheduled to perform and so Bohorquez decided to include Bloch's Prayer, performed by Damien Ventula on cello and Mara Mednik on piano, as part of the programme.

But let me report first on the afternoon's events that preceded the concert, for they are worth mentioning in their own right. Entering the city hall where everything took place, one was greeted by a Pergamenschikow photo exhibition that had been organised by Kronberg Academy's founder and director, the German cellist Raimund Trenkler whose sister, incidentally, resides in Scotland and had travelled to Kronberg especially.

Ten cellists on-stage. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin
Ten cellists on-stage. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin

Intriguing was the marvellous music that came from a rehearsal inside the concert hall. This sounded like an awful lot of celli all going at once, something like a cello version of the 'ten monsters' (ten grand pianos) of Verbier 2003. And, lo and behold, it was. Opening the door, one was greeted by a heart-warming sight: ten cellists on stage, some of them with very attractive and expensive instruments, rehearsing a ten cello Rachmaninov arrangement by Pergamenschikow. This was so unusual and eye-catching, as well as pleasing to the ear, that the concert hall was already rather full with people listening in. On stage were all of the final six Pergamenschikow students, plus some former students now established in their own careers, who had joined forces to honor the Russian virtuoso. In the rehearsal audience and bursting with pride sat Pergamenschikow's attractive widow Tania, who explained: 'These young men were like our own children to us. We hand-picked them for Boris's classes and we ate with them, they helped us move, they came to us with their problems, they became first students, then friends, and then something like family members for us. I am so proud to see how wonderfully they have all turned out. Boris's final class was made up of some truly extraordinary young musicians.'

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Copyright © 11 November 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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