Why are we doing this?
F. E. S. President Igor Smolin on the history and future of the
It all started with a dream
I was born into a common family. My father served in the military, my mother was a teacher. Both are not professionally connected with music, although my mother, a creative woman, introduced me to music and singing since childhood, we often sang with her in two voices. I graduated from music school with honors, I wanted to become a vocalist, but under the influence of my father, I decided to go to a military school and get a «normal» profession, and then return to creativity. But while I was studying, the Soviet Union collapsed. It became not up to art — I had to survive. I had to forget about my music career, but I couldn’t live without music at all. I continued to play, wrote my own songs, and performed in ensembles.
Over time everything’s worked out, I built my business and got a family. But the dream remained. I have always been fascinated by the stage, the backstage, atmosphere of preparation for a concert… Apparently, it was passed on to my daughter. At the age of 9, she showed her talent as a vocalist: she sang so that the adults cried. My wife and I decided to support and direct her talent. This is how our musical life began: we traveled all over Europe, passed 5 international music competitions a year, and she won prizes at many competitions. In Turkey, she sang for the mayor of Antalya — and he, too, was moved to tears.
My daughter and I had a deal — until the age of 13, she can do and try whatever she wants, either tennis, or math, or even motorcycles, and then she has to make a choice about who to become in life, and seriously work for this goal. On her 13th birthday, Evelina sang a song for the guests, cut the cake, and said: «I’ll be a musician». We transferred her to a special choir school, which is patronized by the Riga City Council, and this is a completely different level, a professional education. And there I saw something that caught me very deeply.
How talents grow
At the competitions, we met mostly children from well-off families. And now I saw very talented boys and girls whose parents could not afford to take a lesson from a good teacher or send their child to study abroad. I’ve seen kids who love music very much, who are eager to get to it, but they have a shadow of hopelessness in their eyes, because they will never be able to go on a serious stage. Parents can’t afford it. Then I had the idea of the Foundation.
I started out as a sponsor of children’s competitions, then, joined some of them as jury member. But a different scale was required. To make a creative environment where young artists, including my daughter, will have both colleagues and competitors. Live fair competition is the engine of development. It does not allow you to relax, it makes you constantly move forward, think, decide, develop. But the
creation of such an environment, the creation of a Foundation – is a responsible matter, directly related to the fate of the people we will take under our wing. To do this, you need a team. I managed to find understanding people, to assemble a strong friendly team of the Foundation from the best professionals in their field.
We planned to develop calmly and gradually, but the pandemic spurred us on — and we went forward by leaps and bounds. The current situation — lack of live concerts, cancellation of competitions — is very harmful for artists, especially young ones. An artist is like a flower that must bloom when the time is right. If its heyday is missed, then beauty can disappear forever. This is especially true for vocalists, because the voice is an instrument that matures and adjusts over the years. This is not given to everyone. Such talents are the greatest value. That’s why we decided to act quickly. If we wait, how much time will we miss? How many flowers will wither in obscurity? And so in April 2020, we established the Foundation and started our activities. I was able to help my child and will be able to help many more, because I know how to do it.
The key to success
For an artist to take place, three main factors are needed. First, Talent. A rare voice, outstanding vocal capabilities for a singer, or the talent of an instrumentalist-performer, or body plasticity and flexibility for a dancer. But talent alone is not enough. The
second factor is Motivation. The artist must clearly see the goal which he is going to. He needs discipline and self-discipline to overcome the temptations that are so many at a young age. Nowadays everyone wants easy success — to become a popular blogger, shoot a hype video and get money on YouTube. And in art, you need hard, painstaking, daily work on yourself, on your body, on the study of material, the study of musical literature and music theory. The ability to give up momentary pleasures for the sake of a big goal is the key to the success of the artist. The third factor is Support. There are many children who are willing to work hard, but they do not have the opportunity to go to study in Berkeley or St. Petersburg, because this is an unaffordable cost for the family. And the road is closed for them.
The Foundation’s task is to find such guys. Those who already have the first two factors and only lack finance. There are a lot of wealthy people in the world who are ready to help. Our task is to find them and attract them to cooperation. And there will definitely be results.
Energy of action
The name of our Foundation is a call to creative action. F.E.S. means «Forma. Energia. Scæna.». We want to change the way the music is presented, add energy and expand the boundaries of the stage. Everything in the world is developing in a spiral, and the classics must reach a new level. We will not change the score, libretto and meaning, but we will add new visual
technologies, talented director’s ideas, while maintaining the classic sound quality. Like in the Christopher Nolan films, where science fiction has reached a new level thanks to the direction and spectacular video sequence — we want to do the same for opera.
At the very beginning, I had a dream about music. The dream is still there. I would like to sit in the auditorium of some famous theatre and watch a beautiful, technically perfect production of Tchaikovsky’s «The Nutcracker» or Rimsky-Korsakov’s «Sadko» — and have all the parts danced or sung by our students, who have already become world stars. This is our dream and our goal.