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Kazakh star violinist with no violin 11 октября 2014, 12:56

What is the price of art? Who is to support this promising Kazakh violinist?
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Meruert Karmenova. Photo from personal archives Meruert Karmenova. Photo from personal archives

What is the price of art?

Some would say there is no such thing, putting a price tag on a piece of art is ludicrous; art essentially is but a matter of taste.

Others would disagree. Certainly, some pieces of art are more valuable than others. Why else would anyone pay $142.4 million for a Francis Bacon’s Triptych?

But hear this one: even Mozart was highly dependent on donations from wealthy patrons and often borrowed from friends.

More often than not arts patronage can do a great deal to help an aspiring musician, a painter or a writer to turn an abstract idea into reality, to communicate one’s art to others, to move the human progress.

A true talent is hard to identify of course, but upon proving oneself doesn’t a person deserve help, financial as well? Surely, yes. But how much?

21-year old Meruert Karmenova is a rising star violinist of humble upbringing from Kazakhstan. Studying in her third year in Moscow State Conservatory, she is already a winner of various international competitions. In 2013 she became a laureate of the 5th Moscow International David Oistrakh Violin Competition.

This year, the young musician was awarded at the 33 international Rodolfo Lipizer Prize in Italy, where 17 best violinists from all over the world gathered to play truly difficult pieces of music ever written. In addition to the main prize, Meruert was also awarded three special prizes in the nominations “Best performance of Mozart concerto”, “The most virtuoso performer” and “The youngest finalist of the competition”.

These allow Karmenova to participate in major world competitions.

However, on such a high level pure skill and talent may not be enough. When progressing to the next level of musical excellence, the quality of an instrument starts playing an increasingly large role. And the quality of an instrument depends on the bucks one is willing to pay for it.

This is already a stumbling block for Meruert, who has no instrument of her own.

In an interview to Tengrinews, the girl’s mother Gulnar Kapasheva said that her daughter had never had an instrument of her own. All her instruments were leased and sooner or later had to be returned to their rightful owners. This is just another time Meruert may be left without a violin.

This time, Kapasheva decided to ask for help from Pavlodar Oblast Akim (Mayor) Kanat Bosumbayev.

"The term of the violin lease from the State Collection of Russia had ended in spring, and it appeared to be impossible to extend it. Now we are renting an instrument from a private collector. Leasing costs 6-7 thousand euros a year, which is a huge sum for us. But the term of this lease will also end soon. So I turned to the blog of the Akim asking for assistance in purchasing a violin personally," Kapasheva told.

The woman said that she already asked the Oblast administration for help back in October 2013.

“Last fall, I was informed that a decision to acquire an instrument had been approved and a memorandum had been signed with sponsors. Negotiations were underway with a Swiss collector. I was even told that the donors would allocate 12.5 million tenge. But we never received the money. A few days ago, at a meeting with the Deputy Akim Aryn Orsariyev I was told that this money was intended to buy instruments and costumes for local musicians, while our issues remained open," the woman shared.

In turn, the Department of Culture, Archives and Documentation of Pavlodar Oblast stressed that the violin which Meruert Karmenova was hoping to acquire cost serious money and there were no sponsors on the horizon willing to pay for it.

The Oblast administration also shared their view.

“What we are talking about is purchasing a violin of master Postiglione from a private collector from Switzerland Samuel Ferriz, worth 50 thousand euros. Budgetary legislation does not provide for buying such instruments for students of conservatories,” said the press secretary of the Akim of Pavlodar Oblast Askar Dzhaldinov.

“Therefore, the deparment of culture has sent letters to major companies in the region with a request for sponsorship in the acquisition of the musical instrument for the violinist. While the answers have not yet been received, we hope that sponsors will be found," he explained.

The press secretary added that Akim Kanat Bozumbayev sincerely congratulated Meruert on her success in Italy and was glad that the Oblast had such talents.

However, Dzhaldinov also said that the wish to acquire a rare violin was somewhat unreasonable and Meruert could do with a less expensive instrument.

He said Kazakhstan had a state collection of musical instruments, “which according to the experts has a large assortment of high-quality violins."

The speaker added that asking 12.5 million tenge was too much. “Around the world not even all of the most recognized masters own such a violin. In their daily lives, they use quality instruments of another price order. During rehearsals and concerts outstanding performers from around the world use good violins costing between 10-15 thousand dollars. And for grand performances that require the highest quality of sound, they rent original instruments from private or public collections,” Dzhaldinov said.

He added that accomplished musicians often got to use instrument free of charge, and only had to provide a guarantee from a corporation, bank, ministry or agency that pledge to repay damages in the event of loss or damage of the leased property.

Besides, such a rare instrument cannot be simply stored in an ordinary apartment, Dzhaldinov pointed out.

"Storing it requires certain conditions. Moreover, a violin worth 50 thousand euros is a rather expensive piece of art, which you can’t simply go out for a walk with. Therefore, in this matter I would like to encourage all parties to use common sense, so that both our talents get real support and hasty decisions are not made," the press secretary said.

Nevertheless, it is truth universally acknowledged, that a musician in possession of a good talent must be in want of a good instrument. After all, it is not a Stradivarius violin Meruert is after, which by the way might not be superior to modern violins as it is believed to be.

Certainly, it is improbable and not completely fair to spend money from the state budget in order to buy her the instrument when pressing welfare issues abound.

However, isn't there a philathropist somewhere around who is keen on classical music?

By Dinara Urazova


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