Cellist Dr. Alexander Russakovksy and pianist Dr. Amber Shay Nicholson will perform a free recital at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at First United Methodist Church, 200 Market St., Warren. The musicians will present a program of cello and piano music by Russian composers. The two large works on the recital are the Rachmaninoff Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19 and the Prokofiev Sonata in C Major, Op. 119.
Dr. Alexander Russakovsky joined the faculty of the University of Southern Mississippi in the fall of 2001. He studied cello at the Leningrad Conservatory, under renowned Russian professors, Emmanuel Fishman and Anatoli Nikitin. Russakovsky received his bachelor of music from the Jerusalem Rubin Academy, where he studied with Shmuel Magen, and his master of music from the Yale School of Music under Aldo Parisot. He holds a doctorate in cello performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied with Geoffrey Rutkowski and Ron Leonard. A founding member of the Jerusalem Academy String Quartet, Russakovsky has performed with the group throughout Israel, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and France. He has made numerous solo appearances with orchestras in Israel, Russia and the United States. A dedicated chamber music player, Russakovsky has performed with string quartets and other chamber music formations in Santa Barbara, in the Chamber Music Series of the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and with the Western Slope Music Festival in Colorado. He also has served on the faculty of the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Bonefro, Italy and the IV Violoncello Biennal in Peru. A recipient of many awards, Russakovsky won the Angela and Maurice M. Clairmont Competition in Tel Aviv, the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition in Santa Barbara, the Charlotte and Alvin Bronstein Scholarship for the Arts from the Ohaj Festival, and the 1999 Career Grant of the Esperia Foundation. His orchestral engagements include Savannah Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, New Haven Symphony and Leningrad Philharmonic.
Dr. Amber Shay Nicholson, a native of Cooperstown, PA, was a member of the keyboard faculty of the University of Southern Mississippi from 2004-2009. She received her bachelor of music, master of music, and doctorate of musical arts degrees in piano from Eastman School of Music, where she studied extensively with Nelita True. In addition to teaching, giving workshops, and adjudicating piano competitions & festivals, Nicholson performs regularly as both a solo pianist and collaborative artist. Recent recitals have included performances at SUNY Fredonia, Edinboro University, and Slippery Rock University, a concerto performance with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra, and collaborations with faculty artists from Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University, Yale University, and the University of Southern Mississippi, among others. She has performed at the International Workshops in Stavanger, Norway and the International Summer Music Academy in Leipzig, Germany. She won the 2001 Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 concerto competition at Eastman School of Music and received a special prize at the Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev, Ukraine. Honors include being the only U.S. citizen to be accepted into the 2001 TCU/Van Cliburn International Piano Institute in Fort Worth, TX. From 1996-2004, Nicholson was named a Liberace Scholar at Eastman School of Music and received scholarship support from the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. Nicholson received her professional certification as a teacher of piano from the Music Teachers National Association in 2005. She currently lives and teaches in Youngsville with her husband and daughters.