25th February – Pieces
I’m quite a mixed up kid – but in a good way: my mum’s Armenian and my dad, who passed away when I was 16, was Uzbek Kazakh Russian and Tatar.
I was born in Moscow. My dad was a diplomat for the former USSR and we moved around extensively, mainly in the region of South East Asia, hence I was raised in Indochina. Since I was a month old baby, my family travelled and so I enjoy being on the go and feel as if I have pieces of my soul all over the world… Moscow, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and London, to name a few..
My grandfather, Parda Toursunov or Parda Tursun became a famous writer in the Soviet time. His autobiographical book, The Teacher was translated into 13 languages and brought him great acclaim.
My great grandparents from my mother’s side had to flee Armenia, due to the terrible events of the genocide. My grandmother spent her early years in Baku in Azerbaijan, started working and married at the very early age of 15. She grew up to be one of those strong and independent women, and, eventually, moved to and settled in Moscow, where my parents met.
And in every good Russian girl’s tradition, having passed the essential ‘yes, she has an ear for music’ test, I started with piano lessons at the age of 5. At 7, I was accepted into the prestigious Gnessin School of Music in Moscow.
At fifteen I was honoured to receive a full scholarship to the specialist music Purcell School in London and then went on to do my bachelor and postgraduate studies in UK, where I found my home in London. East or West… for me London is best! I feel privileged to be a part of this fantastic city, having had the chance to grow up, through all the heartaches and ups & down.. I have never felt judged for the colour of my olive skin or my accent; and for me, the British have always been a genuinely welcoming and warm people. I’ll always be grateful for all the fantastic support, scholarships and grants I have received over the years, and, above all, for the trust that these people gave me by believing in me. In particular, my wonderful piano professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, James Gibb, who became a very dear and close friend.
I believe in the importance of education and every person’s right to it. I have been lucky for all the support that I have received over the years with my studies and I am delighted to be a sponsor of a little boy and girl from the region of Indochina through Plan UK.
As a classical pianist I was crazy about Bach (Bach=God!) and fascinated by Scriabin and Rachmaninov.. I had a tendency to sing along the melodies when playing piano and several of my Russian and English music teachers picked up on it and suggested that I later study voice… And so it happened… As a singer, I cultivated a love for the rich, varied Italian and Russian vocal repertoire, Puccini, Verdi, Russian romances and operas and, in particular, Tchaikovsky’s Yevgeney Onegin. The part of Tatyana is my favourite dream role ever. Saying that, I like to keep an open mind to all kinds of music and I really enjoy a variety including pop, rock, music of the 90s, classical jazz, film music, Anastasia, Phill Collins, U2, Sting, Amy Winehouse and the superb, unique voice of Whitney Houston, to name a few..
On my music path there came a point I realised that piano playing was something that my parents wanted me to do, whilst to sing, the desire to sing was all my own. And hence, after successfully completing my GSMD undergraduate studies in solo piano performance, I decided to change direction and went on to do a postgraduate singing course at the Royal Academy of Music.
It was a tough phase in my life and I found myself on my own, juggling three jobs, making ends meet between a number of grants and loans (thank you HSBC!). To further complicate the situation, the voice lessons that I was having with a certain tenor turned out to be counterproductive, instead of helpful!
The highlights of that time were the marvellous summer courses, run by the former head of opera, Ian Ledingham, with practical sessions and concerts in the most beautiful region of Cinque Terre, in Liguria. That first summer trip to Italy, the surroundings, making music in a safe and loving environment, was the spark which ignited my love affair with Italy. I had the fortune of meeting many beautiful people, getting to know the Italian culture and, eventually, meeting the man of my life, who is now my husband.
I adore Italy, food, people, nature and everything about it. I’m a Ferrari fan and a keen follower of F1 races, together with my husband, of course, who is great with all kinds of cars & anything on wheels! 🙂 He did some work for Ferrari after completing his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, hence for his ‘since forever’ love for technology and racing! At the same time, the music binds us. Him being a classical events music producer, my singing in concert in Trafalgar Square’s Canada House and us meeting in London was a turning point for us in starting our life & music journey together. I’m lucky to have his support and understanding, because a singer’s life and the music business is one tough sport! And it is so important for artists to find the right people to guide and support them on their way, every step of the way.
Singing is like a puzzle and the puzzle of singing is unique for each singer to work out, hence in the last years I have been focusing on discovering and building the right technical foundations for my particular voice, on my own and thanks to the most valuable input from my voice coach, Italian bass Danilo Rigosa.
Apart from my singing and writing, creating my family has always been a number one priority and a dream of mine. I Love being a mum and family comes first. Spending time with my kids is the best thing ever. They are an inspiration on so many levels and, in fact, they are also the main reason I started writing my own songs.
I’m also a foodie and love travelling and sharing beautiful times with friends. I enjoy movies, in particular a good thriller. I also get very excited about transforming things, interior design and total refurbishments – an exciting, demanding and a really challenging process. Anyone who has ever dealt with English builders would know what I mean!! 😉
Coming back to my music, I can say that writing my own songs enabled me to express myself and my voice in a new way, to step outside the classical sphere and to spend a bit more time with piano, even if only for writing and playing my own songs.
Creating an album is like having a baby, only it can take much much longer than 9 months! Finally, after so many hours in the studio, recording and editing, writing, re-writing, re-editing and, furthermore, working with fantastic Italian and British musicians and producers, my Undreamt Dreams, my first official album of songs is ready to go! I’m so excited and grateful to be creating something personal and unique to me and to be able to share it with you here.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my story, to listen to my voice and my music, which I really hope you’ll enjoy! Love,