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Hi, my name is Maxim, I'm 21


Hi, my name is Maxim, I'm 21

I've been living in Moscow for 5 years and I study accordion at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music. The academy has wonderful teachers, an amazing creative atmosphere and I've made a lot of friends there.

On aesthetics

I've been working at Helikon Opera for two years. I check tickets, help guests and ensure everyone has an enjoyable time. Many believe that opera is an art form exclusively for the elite. It is pointless to argue with them, but I would like at least to challenge the stereotypes.

Opera is not about pretentiousness. It is about the special atmosphere and a very diverse audience. We have interesting guests.

At work, I am surrounded by incredible aesthetics; I feel part of great art and I know that I influence the mood of the audience. According to the Russian proverb, "the theatre begins with the cloakroom hanger", but let's change it a little and say that "the theatre begins not with the hanger, but with the usher".


On accordionists and performing at banquets

I have chosen a life of music, even though there are not many people who would have expected it of me. Initially, my military parents thought that studying at a music school is a great opportunity for self-development, but nothing more. However, it turned out to be much more serious than that for me. Nobody tried to dissuade me; I had a lot of support. Incidentally, the choice of the accordion as my specialisation was purely a matter of chance. But this is the kind of chance that you end up being thankful for.

I like the accordion: there is something extremely honest about this instrument. Of course, there are hundreds of jokes about the accordion in Russia, as well as the stereotypical image that persists even in the consciousness of modern people, of a strong man with a downcast look, sitting on a village bench. It is also said that there are only two paths for accordionists: to play at weddings or to perform classical music. In reality, there are many more opportunities.

Today, accordion players are admired not only in Russia, but around the world. A friend of mine has recently performed at the Berlin Philharmonic, as part of a world tour. The music of decorated professional composers is often played on the accordion. Some accordionists are household names. For example, Sergey Voytenko or Aydar Gainullin, who started out as classical musicians.

I believe that fashion goes around in cycles, and the same might be said for music. Who knows, maybe in a few years, accordionists will be more popular than rock musicians and rappers. It is laughable to imagine now, but anything is possible.


On polyphony

I personally prefer classical music, so I would not claim to have an innovative approach. Having said that, I am not fixated on any single direction; I can easily go to a rap concert after Helikon Opera. I believe that musicians should be able to perceive and understand other directions in music, rather than focus on only one.

Music is everywhere in Moscow. As you walk down the street, you can hear rock music coming from one building, some of the best examples of Russian pop from another, and then Russian chanson suddenly starts playing from a third.

Moscow is a super-polyphonic city. If I were more of a romantic, I would probably tell you about the special music of the city, which is hidden in the alleys of Zamoskvorechye and can only be found by a select few, if they walk around the city without earphones. However, it is much more prosaic: all you need to do is listen to Moscow.

The most vivid sound I've heard in Moscow was on Nikolskaya Street during the 2018 World Cup. That's what I call a polyphony of everything!


On street musicians

I love Moscow in summer, when the centre of the capital becomes the turf of street musicians! The attitude towards street musicians in Russia has generally changed for the better. I have definitely noticed it after my five years in Moscow. You walk down Kamergersky Pereulok and you hear music by Zemfira, while, just round the corner, it becomes jazz. Or Noize MC on Arbat Street — makes you want to hum all evening.

Before, you would have to go to Europe if you wanted to hear a good street performance, but now you only need to ride a couple of stops on the Moscow metro. By the way, Music on the Metro is a great project. It is nice that Moscow supports music not only on the streets, but also on the subway. In fact, this gives rise to new formats; musicians understand that they have support, which gives them inspiration and ensures high spirits. As for those who have no special relationship with music, this is just a great opportunity for them to go to live concerts.


The special Muscovites project is dedicated to the heroes of our city: ordinary people with their own views on Moscow. You can meet them in a café, on the street, at the theatre or the supermarket. Perhaps, you sat across from their table, stood in the same queue or were on the same bus late to work just yesterday. Muscovites, let's get acquainted.

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