Konstantin Ishkhanov: legendary musicians, orchestras for InClassica Malta 2021
Konstantin Ishkhanov is an Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist. Founder and president of the European Foundation of Support of Culture (EUFSC), Ishkhanov is the first and only foreigner recipient of Malta’s highest cultural award.
In 2007 Ishkhanov and his family moved to Malta. In February 2015, Konstantin Ishkhanov founded the European Foundation for Support of Culture (EUFSC), which is a non- profit organization with a key objective to promote talented musicians and artists and encourage the preservation of musical & cultural heritage.
On April 16, 2019, EUFSC President Konstantin Ishkhanov Received Malta’s Highest National Award in Art for his huge contribution and support for art and cultural projects in the field of arts in the nomination of “Unique Contribution to the Culture of Malta.
Please share something about your personal life. How do you accomplish all these honors?
I’ve found that if I keep focused on the objective in mind and work hard, the rest often takes care of itself. The other very important thing is to enjoy what you do of course and to believe in what you’re trying to achieve. I grew up with music all around me as my mother played classical piano every day. My family often had a lot of musician friends to visit. These experiences all contributed to my love of music and have shaped my activities throughout my life.
As the founder of the EUFSC, how do you evaluate the work of the Foundation as things currently stand?
I’m very proud of the Foundation and I look forward to seeing its excellent work continue for many years into the future. I founded the EUFSC
in 2015 in Malta originally to promote cultural education projects
in Europe, and I’m so thrilled at the way it has grown ever since. The Foundation’s portfolio of projects has increased over the years, now comprising festivals, international music competitions, concert series, world premieres, ballet productions, exhibitions, and numerous other cultural events held in various countries across the globe. This is a fantastic achievement and I look forward to seeing how everything develops.
What are the highlighted goals and achievements of this non-profit organisation?
Now the EUFSC primarily focuses on initiating and promoting cultural and educational projects not only in Europe, but also in the Eurasian continent, North and South America, and Asia. A key objective of the Foundation is to make cultural heritage more accessible and to encourage increased public engagement with the arts. Every year we hold numerous events seeking to support and promote culture, to inspire interest in various types of modern art, and to support young talented musicians and gifted children. We also have a passion for highlighting and promoting Maltese composers, musicians, ensembles, and orchestras. Through our continued affiliation with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), we strive to support Malta’s cultural presence on the world stage and to further secure its increasingly recognized status as a Mediterranean hub for creativity and culture.
What are the strategies behind the expansion of the EUFSC across the United States, Asia, and so on?
When I founded the EUFSC and started organising small classical music concerts, I was truly surprised to realize how interested the audience was, how grateful all the people leaving the venues after the performance were. I started to receive some calls and emails with queries as to when the next events would be taking place. I think that was the moment when I realised that my support for culture can become something even more special. Thereafter we launched various projects across Europe, which soon after expanded into many other countries in various continents. Today I am proud to say that we hold events in 27 countries around the world.
Can you share something about the annual InClassica International Music Festival in Malta? How significant is it and who is a part of it?
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this will be the first large-scale classical music festival of 2021 to take place anywhere in the world, and certainly, the largest classical music festival to have taken place in Malta to date. Our previous Malta International Music Festival in 2018 was the largest to have taken place at that time, and the festival in 2021 will surpass this in scale considerably – which is quite the achievement! We have six international orchestras visiting Malta in addition to the resident Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and Malta Youth Orchestra, as well as 33 world-renowned soloists including such giants as Maxim Vengerov and Grigory Sokolov and eight internationally–acclaimed conductors. To put this into context, we had three orchestras including the MPO and MYO at the festival in 2018, and the duration of the festival at that time was also shorter.
What are the upcoming plans for this thriving organisation?
As discussed we have the InClassica Malta International Music Festival in 2021 which is, of course, our main focus at the moment. But we do have other events we are working towards of course, including a fantastic series of concerts featuring the exceptionally talented pianist, Philipp Kopachevsky, and an ambitious tour of China with the world-famous violinist, Andrey Baranov. We have other projects ‘in the works’ too, which we will announce closer to the time.
Are there any impacts on the EUFSC and its agenda due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Absolutely — anyone organising live events this year suffered significant disruptions to their activities and the EUFSC was no different. Having said that, we were fortunate in that due to much of our work being internationally based — for example, piano competitions and overseas tours — we were able to flexibly adjust our activities based not just on local restrictions, but also with a view to thinking what would be possible in other countries as well. This allowed us a degree of continuation that perhaps other organisations were not able to take advantage of, but of course, 2020 has not been an easy year for us.
Do you have any role models?
One should refrain from idolising others, otherwise, you will forget who you truly are. (laughs)
What is the most unforgettable experience for you?
So far I would have to say the Malta International Music Festival 2018. That was the first year we gathered on the island so many classical music stars such as Maxim Vengerov, Ray Chen, Andreas Ottensamer, Grigory Sokolov, Nikolai Lugansky, Salvatore Accardo, and many many others. For the first time, we had a guest foreign resident orchestra — the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra — for 13 concerts, leading international media in attendance and many famous personalities.
If you get unfocused, then what do you do?
I can’t afford to be unfocused, especially in the current pandemic situation. We have a lot of challenges to face that require total focus and dedication.
Do you think that your activities impact the world and create a difference?
Absolutely. I truly believe that culture changes the world for the better and that by supporting cultural endeavours, we can contribute in a positive way to the world. I think of the people whom the activities of our Foundation help: the grateful and admiring audiences leaving halls after our concerts and the young and talented artists whom we have helped on their journeys, helping them to build and continue in successful careers. These all make a big difference and I’m very proud of these achievements.
Can you share something more about your future journey after tackling the situation of deadly coronavirus?
The COVID-19 pandemic has of course presented enormous challenges; however, I am confident that the EUFSC can overcome these as we continue to organise and promote our cultural activities in Europe and elsewhere around the world. We are on track for delivering our flagship event — the InClassica Malta International Music Festival — in April and May next year, as well as a host of other activities in 2021. We are confident that the situation regarding international travel and live events will improve over time, and in the meantime, we are pressing ahead with our plans whilst of course respecting all relevant health guidelines when holding live events. After all, in these times of uncertainty, the activities of organisations like ours are especially important. Arts, culture, and self-expression are all vital for society, and in challenging times should be focused on particularly so.
How can people get in touch with you