Kagawa teenager wins best student award at Russia’s top music academy

Kyodo

A 16-year-old from Kagawa Prefecture has won the best student award at the Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music, Russia’s top music school that has trained gifted children since the late 19th century.

Kanon Matsuda, who studies piano at Gnessin, is the first foreigner to win the honor at the institution, whose graduates include noted pianist Evgeny Kissin.

“I was surprised,” said Matsuda, who played a waltz by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin at the awards ceremony Friday. “I had thought it would be impossible for a foreigner.”

The school’s principal praised Matsuda for her talent not just as a pianist but in music in general, and spoke highly of her extracurricular concert activities.

Starting to play the piano at age 4, the native of Takamatsu was discovered by a Gnessin teacher who happened to be teaching in the city.

Matsuda, who was encouraged to study in Russia by the teacher, traveled to Moscow with her mother at the age of 6 in 2002 and received the highest marks among those taking the entrance examination for the following school year. She had her first performance with an orchestra at age 8 and has since won a number of awards both in and outside of Russia.

Students at Gnessin are taught regular subjects such as mathematics and history in addition to music. Most of the students are Russian.