United in music: Pianists from Ukraine and Russia will perform together at Leamington Music Festival

Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin was set to play at the event but he is now unable to make it due to a visa backlog

Roman Kosyakov and Sasha Grynyuk
Roman Kosyakov and Sasha Grynyuk

In what will be an emotional moment, two pianists from Ukraine and Russia will perform together for the final concert of the 2022 Leamington Music Festival.

Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin was set to play at the event but he is now unable to make it due to a visa backlog.

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So the Leamington Music Festival has come up with a last minute solution for the event on May 2 - one that will no doubt please many people given the current political situation.

Sasha Grynyuk

Festival Director Richard Phillips said Andrey was introduced to Leamington Music by violinist Tasmin Little, who has championed the pianist since performing with him in 2016 as part of the Sydney International Piano Competition, which he subsequently won.

He was due to play in 2020 and 2021 after his performance in 2019 - but the events had to be cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

He added: “We hoped to honour our invitation to Andrey, particularly as many of those who heard him in 2019 kept asking when he would be back.

"We know he went to the British Embassy in Zagreb, where he lives, to get the necessary visa two months ago and had all the relevant papers, including our invitation.

Roman Kosyakov

"There appears to be a big backlog and the Embassy does not see this engagement as a priority. It is very disappointing.

“It is challenging too, but we have come up with a last-minute solution which we hope will resonate in the current political turmoil. We have invited two pianists to give the concert together – one Ukrainian and one Russian.”

The Ukrainian pianist is Sasha Grynyuk, who was born in Kyiv and completed his studies at the Guildhall of Music and Drama in London. He has won many international prizes and performed in major concert halls not only in London, but also in Vienna, New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

The Russian pianist is Roman Kosyakov, who has been finishing his studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and was a joint winner of the Leamington Music Prize in 2018. He gave a lunchtime concert in the Leamington Music Festival Weekend in September 2021.

The programme that the two have put together is a mixture of solo pieces and duets covering a range of composers including Liszt, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schubert, and Dvořák.

The 2022 Leamington Music Festival which runs from Thursday April 28 to Monday May 2, consists of eight concerts in the Royal Pump Rooms and three across the road in All Saints Church. It celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams and, as well as leading British musicians such as Emma Johnson, Raphael Wallfisch, Nicholas Daniel, James Gilchrist and Roderick Williams, has musicians from Canada, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain.

Tickets for the Festival are on sale at the Visitor Information Centre at the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington and Visit Warwick at the Court House in Warwick. Online www.leamingtonmusic.org or call 01926 334418.