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Musica Lanterna Brings Class(ical) to Vancouver

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Musical promotions may sound like a simple concept, but, to Dr. Anton Zotov and Dimitri Zhgenti, it means much more. Musica Lanterna is a local concert series project started by the two musicians with the goal of moving classical music performances out of the concert hall and into the community.

Zotov was born in Ukraine and started playing piano at age 6 under the award-winning teacher Maryna Matveyeva.  He performed his first piano solo at age 8, and gained extensive experience in solo, chamber and collaborative music. At the age of 12, he performed as a soloist for the Nikolaev State Orchestra of folk instruments. He holds a master’s degree in piano performance and completed his doctoral studies in 2018.

Dimitri Zhgenti, born in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, began playing piano at age 9 under the instruction of Madea Javahia. He moved to the United States at the age of 11 and then to Vancouver in 2002 where he studied with concert pianist Joanna Hedges. Zhgenti was accepted into Indiana University where he finished his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Zotov and Zhgenti met at Indiana University while working towards their degrees in music.

The idea of Musica Lanterna came from the duo’s desire to bring classical music out of the academic setting. “The lantern represents going out into the community, sending out a light. The light, the fire, represents . . . inspiration, motivation, creativity, progress and so that is all enclosed in that lantern, that light you are bringing to the community,” says Zotov. 

With the first performance happening in October, Musica Lanterna is still quite new to Vancouver. Zotov and Zhgenti share a love of the history of the West, so they wanted to incorporate a spirit of discovery for classical music. “Of course, you’ve heard Bach, you’ve heard Beethoven, you’ve heard all these wonderful composers,” Zotov says. “But sometimes if it is presented in a new way, if it is presented through the personality of the performer, then it is a new discovery for you.” One upcoming performance includes a guitar and clarinet pair which Zotov feels will be a new experience for most people attending. 

Silviu Ciulei (left) and Jeffrey Brooks will perform a guitar/clarinet duet at Musica Lanterna’s April 4, 2020 concert at Tandem Hall in Downtown Vancouver. Photo courtesty Musica Lanterna.

The performance schedule includes six performances with various instruments including piano, guitar, cello and clarinet. Opening the series is Zotov and Zhgenti themselves, with a performance on October 19 at 7 p.m.

Zotov says they know all the musicians performing in the concert series personally. “We thought that would be the best way to start,” says Zotov. “They are professional and incredibly talented musicians. We wanted to bring these artists to our community, so that they can share their music with new audiences.” 

The performances will be held at Tandem Hall in Boomerang Bistro in Downtown Vancouver. Zotov and Zhgenti purposely chose this venue as a way to experiment with space during the performances.  “What we like about Boomerang and the space is that everything is in one area,” says Zhgenti. “There is no elevated stage per se, you can put chairs whatever way you want. [There are] white walls to hang visual elements. Musical arts are strongly connected to visual arts.”

“Of course, you’ve heard Bach, you’ve heard Beethoven, you’ve heard all these wonderful composers. But sometimes if it is presented in a new way, if it is presented through the personality of the performer, then it is a new discovery for you.”

In the future, Musica Lanterna has plans to expand the performances by adding visual artists and children musicians from the area as opening acts. “In the future we see us as a musical organization that can partner with [other] organizations to help people in need . . . and unite them around . . . causes and bring awareness,” says Zhgenti. “We hope we can illuminate through Musica Lanterna . . . Music brings people together.”

For more information and tickets to upcoming performances visit www.musicalanterna.com or follow them on Instagram and Facebook @MusicaLanterna. 

Photo by Heather Finch.

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About Author

Tara Graham worked for Clark College's student newspaper, "The Indy," as their social media/ad manager and part time reporter from 2018 until her graduation from Clark in 2019. Her three favorite things are being a mom, nerds and tacos. She is a dog mom to Frodo, and world traveler via her imagination only.

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