Renowned Russian Violinist to Perform in Toronto

Vladimir Spivakov , centre with baton, with members of the Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra.

Vladimir Spivakov , centre with baton, with members of the Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra.

In honour of Toronto-based impresario Svetlana Dvoretsky’s 10th year showcasing mainly Russian artists, violinist Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra will be in concert May 9 at Roy Thomson Hall.

Spivakov and the Moscow Virtosi will perform classical works by Mozart, Shostakovich, Piazzolla and Tchaikovsky.

After a chance meeting with Spivakov in downtown Toronto in 2003, Dvoretsky was given an opportunity to promote the violinist, an opportunity that seemed improbable at the time. Dvoretsky was a recent immigrant to Canada from Russia in 1998 and worked in retail sales, but had no background as an impresario.

However, she impressed Spivakov with her knowledge of the arts at their meeting, and he knew Dvoretsky’s mother, a pianist Spivakov had studied with at the Rimsky-Korsokov Conservatory in Moscow.

“Mr. Spivakov told me, after a few more meetings, that he wanted me to meet his manager in New York so that I can be the presenter of his concerts throughout Canada. I was surprised, and I really appreciated having his trust. At the time, I had no budget, no background and no reputation yet as an impresario,” Dvoretsky said.

Dvoretsky forged links with the growing Russian-Jewish community in Toronto and spread the word in Russian that Spivakov would be performing in Toronto. She had a sold-out audience for her first concert with Spivakov in 2004 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, netting $5,000 in profit for her company, Show One Productions.

“At the time, nobody in Toronto was promoting the classical artists from Russia that I knew about. Also, because of my fluency in Russian and knowledge of the community, I discovered that others I met grew up with a love of the classics, and I had an eager audience.”

In her 10 years as an impresario, Dvoretsky has spread her wings to produce concerts in Montreal and Ottawa in addition to Toronto. Although she is including some non-Russian artists, among them Belgian singer Lara Fabian, on her roster of clients, Dvoretsky has found a loyal audience who have attended Show One Productions with Russian artists such as comic Maxim Galkin and singer Diana Arbenina.

She also has a strong affinity for her Jewish roots, becoming more immersed in celebrating holidays within the Russian Jewish community.

“I am proud to be Russian, but also to be Jewish as well, growing up proud of my Jewish background when I lived in St. Petersburg. I attend synagogue services for the High Holidays and for Pesach at a few Russian congregations in North York.”

Dvoretsky wanted Spivakov to showcase her 10th anniversary, anticipating robust sales at the box office. “Spivakov is regarded by classical musicians as one of the best violinists in the world. The Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra that he founded is celebrating its 35th anniversary, so it is an honour to have him return to Toronto.”

Born in Moscow, the 70-year-old Spivakov was a child prodigy, mastering the violin by age 13. He gained international prestige after his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1979.

He has worked with famed musicians such as Leonard Bernstein and Israeli conductor Pinchas Zukerman. Spivakov is the principal conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia.

Despite his fame, Spivakov never forgot being discriminated against in his youth because he is Jewish. “I was bullied as a child for being Jewish and took up boxing lessons to defend myself against gangs. I was also denied initially from attending the Rimsky-Korsokov Conservatory because I am Jewish. Fortunately, the ban on Jews was lifted when I was a teen.”

Ironically the musician who was denied entry to the famed Russian conservatory won the highest honour in his country for his music, the National Cultural Heritage Award.

Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi perform May 9, 8 p.m., at Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. ,Toronto. The audience is invited to a post-concert reception ifeaturing jazz artist Daniel Nardi.Tickets, 416-872-4255 or

By Marvin Glassman