Leonid Shukayev, cello
I was born in the most beautiful city in the world - St. Petersburg. When I was six years old, I started studying music. My first cello teacher was Valentin Elin. I had other interests such as math and biology, but I chose to pursue music and entered the Rimsky-Korsakoff Music College. There I studied with the young but talented teacher, Konstanti Kucherov. While I was in college, I became very interested in chamber music and started attending classes of Vissarion Soloviev, the violist from the Taneyev String Quartet and Emma Estrin. During the second year of school, I entered a competition for all chamber ensembles from musical colleges in Russia. Together with my pianist, Helena Kurdina (now working at the Met Opera), we won first prize. I enjoyed that chamber music experience so much that I tried to dedicate enough time to play in at least three different quartets and various piano ensembles.
At the Conservatory, I was fortunate enough to study cello with Emanuel Fishmann, the teacher of Misha Maisky and Boris Pergamenshikov. My chamber ensemble teachers included Tamara Fidler and Vladimir Ovcharek, first violinist of the Taneyev String Quartet. They represented the older tradition of performance in St. Petersburg, and I gained a lot from studying with them.
Having finished the Conservatory with honors, I entered the Conservatory doctorate program where I studied with Anatoli Nikitin and Sergei Roldugin. At the same time, I was invited to work with conductor Eugene Mravinski in the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Then, for a year and a half, I served in the army. When I returned, I continued work at the music college and conservatory.
I have always enjoyed performing in different types of ensembles. Besides performing with pianists and orchestras, I played in the St. Petersburg Trio before moving to the States. We recorded four CDs and toured Russia and Europe.
As a teacher, I like all my students and try not to show favoritism towards anyone. I teach them to think for themselves, master their technique, and above all, to love the music. Many of my students now play in different orchestras around the world. Two of my students, Dmitri Kirillov and Dmitri Sokolov, have won prizes in competitions, and some others play in professional string quartets. For me, it is important that they achieve success not only in music but in other areas of their lives.
Also, I have a strong interest in nature and philosophy. They help me to better understand myself and the world around me. My wife, Nadezhda Shabanina, is a singer, and we have two sons, Armand and Tioma.