Congratulations to Russian-American classical guitarist Piotr Pakhomkin for his recent victory in the 5th Respighi International Soloist Competition, sponsored by the Chamber Orchestra of New York in conjunction with the city of Bologna, Italy—birthplace of the great classical composer Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936).
The Respighi Prize was established “to encourage and offer a performance opportunity for young talented composers and soloists through the inspiration of Ottorino Respighi’s music… The Respighi Prize competition is open to young composers and soloists (instrumental and vocal) under 40 years of age, of all nationalities, currently enrolled in (or recent graduates of) music conservatory or college (including preparatory or post-certificate programs) from all over the world.” Indeed, there are 22 eligible instruments and vocal categories, so for a classical guitarist to win is quite extraordinary. (The other three finalists for the prize this year were harpists from Italy and Austria and a pianist from the U.S.) Further, Pakhomkin is the first Russian-born musician to win the prize—appropriate given Respighi’s own affection for Russian classical music: he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and was first violinist in the Opera Orchestra in St. Petersburg for a period.
The Respighi victory is just the latest triumph in the continuing upward trajectory of Piotr Pakhomkin’s career since completing his studies with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Maryland in 2012. He won top prizes at competitions in Culiacan (Mexico), Boston, Montreal, Buffalo, and Gorizia (Italy), and has performed in many other cities and countries. By winning the Respighi prize, he has earned the right to perform both solo and with the Chamber Orchestra of New York at a concert at Carnegie Hall during the 2017–18 season.
Give a listen to this performance of Bach’s famously challenging Chaconne, played on Pakhomkin’s luscious-sounding Ross Gutmeier guitar.