Irina Feoktistova and Nazar Dzhuryn And Dreams that Come True


Photo courtesy of Youtube

Irina Feoktistova is most at home behind the keys of her piano.

I want you to picture yourself at the age of six. Ask yourself if you remember what you wanted to do at that point in your life. Do you remember? Is that still what you want to do? For many of us, you probably said no to one or both of those questions. But if you said yes, you should know that by the age of six, Nazar Dzhuryn and Irina Feoktistova had become the talented musicians they wanted to be.

Natives of Ukraine and Russia, respectively, the two musicians were observed and chosen by their parents and their teachers to study music. Dzhuryn said “They chose me!” based on his long arms and advanced ability to recognize pitch for the cello, his instrument of choice.

Similarly, in St. Petersburg, Russia, a six year old Irina Feoktistova was chosen from her classmates to study music, but her weapon of choice was not strings, but keys – the piano.

I had no idea what to expect as I entered the recital hall that Thursday evening on Jan. 23. I had not attended many concerts, none at least that played G.Valentini or R. Schumann.

I had only ever been in the recital hall once before, one day when I was walking past it last semester. I was met with a melody that floated its way through the doors of the hall. Another student and I were stopped in our tracks, almost in a trance-like state, and we went to check it out. It was brief and random, but it was a memorable sound. I will admit that the experience left me a bit intrigued and even excited to watch another performance in the recital hall.

The quiet of the room on Thursday was introduced to the sweet, peaceful and powerful sounds of the strings and piano duo at about 7:40 p.m. Each piece was long, and sometimes I felt myself drifting off into my head until the music snapped me out of it with a wild and unexpected arrangement of notes.

There was a definite pattern within these pieces that began with a peaceful and joyful introduction that was met with quick, deep and dark notes. The sounds of both instruments created killer harmonies. I realized just how out of my element I was when I kept questioning if the piece was actually over or not and whether I should cheer or just clap.

I definitely recommend checking out another performance by this duo, or anyone else who performs in the recital hall at NEIU. It’s free admission for NEIU students. They occur pretty frequently and host local, regional and universal talent.

Coincidentally, both Feoktistova and Dzhuryn came to Chicago the same year, around the same ages, yet didn’t meet until about three to four years ago. They had almost identical childhoods with rigorous training. Feoktistova, for example, was “practicing for twelve hours a day” with her grandmother, who was strict with her because she was very proficient in pitch.

For both musicians, it became clear that music and performance were more than just “careers” they had been assigned. “It was my passion and I’m good at it,” said Feoktistova on playing the piano. Music had become a part of these artists’ lives; their performances were their way of radiating their energies to the audience.

Each performance and song created a new character to portray and project each night, as if they were actors. “All art connects,” said Feoktistova about theatre, music, literature, visual art and anything you consider to be ‘art’. “Cooking is art!” added Dzhuryn.

Feoktistova had a few tips for any musicians or artists: “Unlock your potential,” she said. “Decide what interests you, decide what you’re good at and remember, ‘Travel is key to art, discover new culture and sounds.’”

Dzhuryn gave me some personal advice at the end of our phone interview. I told him I was at NEIU studying to teach elementary school and he reminded me to “teach [future students] that art is important.” I will gladly start to preach this shared belief right now.

If you aren’t the type to go to shows, don’t like music, are way too busy or just can’t make it — for whatever reason — don’t fret. It’s okay. I understand. However, don’t let that stop your creative juices from flowing. The artist will always be a part of the minority in society, but we can all decide what true art is. For Feoktistova, her art is the “spark” inside her soul that she can share with her audiences. For Dzhuryn, art is a way to “show the mindset of society,” and promote more creativity in our lifestyles. And for me, art is the key that unlocks the mind from all the feelings and thoughts that are trapped.