On October 24, 2008, St. John’s sponsored a benefit concert of Russian piano music at the Russian Center of San Francisco. The program included works by Balakirev, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky.
The pianist was Daniel Jepson, who comes from England, where he began his musical training at the age of four. Following graduation from an American high school near London, he attended Harvard University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2002. He next attended the Boston Conservatory of Music and received a Master of Performing Arts degree in 2007. He is currently pursuing a graduate performance diploma at Boston Conservatory.
Musically, the concert was outstanding success. Fr. James of the Old Cathedral, who sat in the front row along with Fr. Serge and the wife of the Consul-General of the Russian Federation, called the concert “electrifying.” He thought it was amazing not only that Mr. Jepson could remember and play the 90 minutes of lightening fast, super complicated music from memory, but also that it seemed he had thought carefully about every single note, and had played each one with the precision, emphasis, volume, and sensitivity appropriate to it. St. John’s music teacher Mrs. Gorodetskaia, who grew up and learned music in Moscow, said that what she most appreciated about the pianist was his deep understanding of silence — of the silence before the sound of each note. And another audience member said that the concert had been the closest thing to being in heaven outside of church — and since she is an Orthodox woman who regularly attends services at Holy Virgin Cathedral, that’s saying a lot!
Proceeds from the concert went towards the Academy’s planned school trip in February to London and Paris, where students in grades 8-12 will first visit London’s Royal Academy of Arts to see an exhibition of Byzantine icons, and then travel to Paris to visit Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Chateau de Fontainbleau, Musée d’Orsay, and Chartres Cathedral.