Svetlana Smolina

By Margit Resch

Svetlana Smolina, a Russian classical pianist, is stunningly talented and stunningly beautiful. What more do you need to know to come to Fripp on Sunday, February 25, 5:00 pm, so you can hear and see this amazing lady play?

It shouldn’t surprise you, considering the above qualifications, that Svetlana has been giving solo concerts all over the world, has played with hundreds of prestigious orchestras and famous musicians of all kinds, has been invited to scores of international festivals, has countless recordings, records, and broadcasts in her résumé, and, without exception, has received rave reviews, such as this one by Marcia Fulmer from Indiana, one of the first of Svetlana’s appraisals in this country: “It was the artistry of the 20-year old pianist that brought the audience to its feet… Mrs. Smolina was in complete control of the emotionally lyrical, technically intimidating work… Mrs. Smolina’s incredibly fluid – and incredibly strong – fingers invested each change of mood and movement with exactly the right texture, depth and sense of being… In Svetlana Smolina, Rachmaninoff’s Third found a perfect match. She was phenomenal!” According to the headline of a more recent review by the New York Times, Svetlana is among “The Best Pianists of the 21st Century.”

It would be easier to enumerate where and what and with whom Svetlana has not performed. But let me give you an idea of the multitudes of her musical activities by looking at her schedule just for the year 2016-17: She opened the season with Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional Juvenil in Lima, Peru. She was chosen as the soloist on the New Year tour to seven cities in China with the Dublin Philharmonic conducted by Derek Gleeson, performing a Rachmaninoff Concerto. She went to the opening of the Tippet Rise Festival in Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park. She recorded and released a CD in July 2017. She had duo recitals with the famous violinist Vadim Repin at Cartagena Music Festival in Teatro Colón, Bogota, Colombia. She played in Bangalor and Mumbai, India, for the XXV Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival. She performed at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy; at a Carnegie Hall recital in New York City; at a concert for International Women’s Day at the Sentosa World Theater in Singapore; with the South Florida Symphony in Fort Lauderdale; and, last but not least, she competed in “The Best Pianists of the 21st Century“ concert series, including a recital in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am breathless. How about you?

Svetlana has played with major orchestras in musical hotspots like Berlin, Paris, New York, and Beijing, just to mention a few. She collaborated with many famous soloists to form quintets, quartets, trios, duos, even duos with another pianist. One of her favorite musicians to work with seems to be another Russian, Vadim Repin. He and Svetlana even entertained their countrymen at the residence of the Ambassador of Russia in Washington DC, and they appeared together in London for Maestro Repin’s Trans-Siberian Art Festival. “Vadim is simply the best and most perfect violinist that I have ever had the chance to hear,” said Yehudi Menuhin; and who would argue with the praise of that world-famous violinist? Needless to say, Vadim and Svetlana make a fantastic duo, indeed. Check it out on

I don’t know all the piano competitions in which Svetlana competed. But I do know that she garnered countless prizes, including the Grand Prix of the prestigious Citta Di Senigallia International Piano Competition, the Kingsville Piano Competition, and the William Byrd Young Artists Piano Competition.

Since 2011 Svetlana has been directing the piano program at the Philadelphia International Music Festival. In 2014 Svetlana was appointed as Artist in Residence in Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music & Dance, in the Department of Instrumental Studies.

Svetlana’s repertoire, not surprisingly, is endless. Think of a few composers you like, their piano work will be part of it. I don’t know what she has chosen to perform for us on Fripp, maybe Beethoven’s “Eroica Variations,” Bizet’s “Carmen Variations,” Debussy’s “Pour le Piano,” Chopin’s “Mazurkas,” Schumann’s “Ballades,” Gershwin’s “Three Preludes (1926),” Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsodies,” Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” Mozart’s “Sonatas,” Piazzolla’s “Tangos,” Schubert’s “Drei Klavierstücke,” Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau.” Did I whet your appetite?

Svetlana Smolina will satisfy your pianistic appetite on Sunday, February 25, at 5:00 pm at the Fripp Island Community Centre, 205 Tarpon Boulevard. Her concert is sponsored by Fripp Island Friends of Music and supported by the SC Arts Commission. Attendees get a free pass at the Fripp gate. Tickets at the door: adults $30, students free, thanks to the Peg Gorham Memorial Fund. You are invited to join the pianist at a complimentary reception after the performance, catered deliciously by Harold’s Chef Services. Questions? Email Vanessa Peñaherrera at or text her at (704) 807-0255.