This talented young Russian doesn’t feel the least bit confined by his chosen instrument. Quite the contrary. All he sees in the harp is its musical possibilities.
You may not have heard of Alexander “Sasha” Boldachev before. This young Russian has, to this point, kept a fairly low profile in the United States, focusing his performing career mainly in Russia, Europe, and also partly in Asia. But now that you know his name, do yourself a favor and go listen to him play. Hearing him live isn’t an option for most, so start with his Petrushka transcription on YouTube, or maybe his fantasy on themes from Scheherazade. You won’t want to stop there though, so be sure to check out his improvisational take on Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, and of course his medley of Star Wars themes with his latest ensemble Game of Tones.
But before you get lost down a YouTube wormhole of his videos, read our conversation with the man behind the music. Harp Column’s Elizabeth Jaxon caught up with Boldachev on a cold January afternoon in Zurich. Planning a meeting with this guy is no easy task. His travel schedule would leave even the most frequent of flyers out of breath. He splits time between Moscow and Zurich when he isn’t traveling for other concert engagements (which he usually is).
Born and raised in Russia to a pianist mother and a philosopher father, at age 11 Boldachev’s exceptional musical talent caught the eye of French harpist Catherine Michel who invited him to come study with her. He continued his studies with Michel until earning his diploma from the Zurich University of the Arts.
Boldachev’s music is as boundless as his traveling. His compositional prowess allows him to be unrestricted in his repertoire choices, and his creative drive has led him in all musical directions—he is as comfortable playing film scores as he is transcribing opera fantasies. As if his musical versatility weren’t impressive enough, he’s also multi-lingual. Boldachev was gracious enough to do this interview in English, which is not his first language.
Harp Column: Thanks for squeezing this interview into your incredibly busy travel schedule! In just the past couple of weeks, you’ve been to Zurich, Moscow, and Rome, and you’re about to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow. What’s on your concert schedule for this month?
Sasha Boldachev: Almost every month is different for me. My dream schedule is to have one month full of work and the next month free to practice, to compose, and to think about new projects. I’m almost at that point. This year, I started working hard from the first of January, and I’ve had rehearsals and concerts every day this month. So far, I’ve been on tour with the Glière Concerto, had solo recitals in Switzerland, my theater show in Moscow, and a huge Russian Ball in Rome. Starting in February, however, I have almost nothing—just a few concerts in Moscow—so I will stay there to work. Then in March, it will be back to the craziness all over again. That’s what works best for me.
HC: It sounds like you’re back and forth between Moscow and Zurich a lot. Where is home for you?