That is how I first met Ivan Sharapov, probably the most amazing piano player and music teacher in Phuket, and beyond.
Now in his mid-30s, Ivan – a piano virtuoso and opera singer – mastered his skills at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the Moscow State University of Culture and the Arts. Now he is busy showcasing his talent all around Thailand as well as passing his knowledge to local students in Phuket who learn performing arts under his guidance.
This burning desire to play music is exactly what brought him to The Phuket News those few years ago and later turned his life into an amazing trip around Thailand that is still ongoing.
“The mission of all music is to bring pleasure to people, it should resonate. Music is not the kind of art you can keep in a drawer of your desk. Music is dead when it’s not being played,” Ivan explains.
Ivan’s first performance in Phuket took place at the inaugural Laguna Phuket Food and Music Festival. To be exact, Ivan played and sang after the official program of the show as his participation was absolutely spontaneous.
“I was enjoying a walk around Laguna area one day and saw some people installing a stage. Feeling the desire to perform, I approached the organisers of the event and asked if I could sing a couple of Italian songs after the official program. Surprisingly, they agreed and I hurried home to get dressed into a proper suit,” Ivan says.
Ivan returned to that stage three years later to take part in this year’s Laguna Phuket Food and Music Festival. During those three years he gave numerous concerts for various audiences. Ivan performed for patients and staff at Mission Hospital; for the men in uniform at Region 8 Police Headquarters; at numerous events at the Russian Embassy; at a big Red Cross Charity and at the Pa Khlok Nursing Home for the Elderly.
For Ivan there are no such things as unsuitable place, time or audience. Music should be heard, otherwise it is dead. On Ivan’s Facebook page one can find a musical video of his “Concert for the Elephant”, a performance at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary where he played classical pieces for 37-year-old female elephant Phang Tong Kwaw. “An unforgettable project” is how Ivan calls that performance. (See video here).
Ivan’s most challenging and important performance so far took place on October 13 last year when he played a nine-hour-long non-stop music marathon in remembrance of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The event took place at River City Bangkok, a crowded place on any day. Some people just passed him by, others stopped for a while to listen, few stayed for long and Ivan kept playing and playing compositions by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, other composers of the past and His Majesty King Rama 9 of course. (See videos here and here.)
Ivan’s supporting team say that passers-by could not believe that a man can perform a nine-hour non-stop set of complicated compositions. Ivan did.
“This was our mission on behalf of all Russian people. We were paying tribute to the man who turned Thailand into the country we know and love, the county we enjoy visiting, living and raising our kids in. This was the expression of our deepest gratitude to His Majesty,” the marathon pianist says.
Ivan’s current repertoire is a true celebration of diversity. The musician performs pieces by great composers of the past, as well as modern songs. A program may include Seasons and the Serenade of Don Juan by Tchaikovsky; various preludes by Rachmaninoff, Heroic Polonaise by Chopin, What a Wonderful World by Armstrong and songs by the late King Bhumibol. The latter are nearly a must for Ivan on any big event.
“Royal songs are deeply loved by Thai people and widely popular. Thais know them by heart and can continue any song from any given place,” Ivan says.
Right now Ivan is busy preparing a special repertoire for his musical tribute to His Majesty King Rama 10. He is planning to play in honour of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun on Thursday, July 26. Stay tuned to ThePhuketNews.com for more details.
For a live interview with Ivan Sharapov on Live 89.9, click here.