Cellist Competes with World’s Best

Cello alumnus competes in prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition.

Fedor Amosov performs on stage, June 2014, Houston, Rice University, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Hugo Wolf conductor.
Russian-born cellist Fedor Amosov

Russian-born cellist Fedor Amosov came to Michigan State University when he was barely 20, eager to study with Suren Bagratuni, professor of cello in the College of Music. When he graduated a few years later, Amosov says he had grown in ways he hadn’t expected.

“I started to become something more than just a performer when I was at MSU,” says Amosov who earned his performance diploma in 2010. “I leaned toward creating art, composing, arranging. East Lansing was where I began to recreate myself into something more that just a cellist.”

That combination of artistry and technique, says Bagratuni, is part of what led to Amosov’s selection to compete in the elite International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in June and July of 2015. The other was pure talent.

“Fedor is extremely gifted,” says Bagratuni. “He instinctively knows how to play the instrument and get the sound and tone. He’s a very special musician.”

Held every four years, the Tchaikovsky Competition is considered a premier event in the international music community for discovering and promoting new talent. Just 25 musicians are selected from hundreds of applicants to compete within each of the five disciplines that consist of piano, violin, voice, cello, and violin making. Past competitions have spawned renowned musicians, including American pianist Van Cliburn who won the very first competition in 1958.

Amosov advanced to the third round of the competition. Finishing 19th in the cello field, Amosov was recognized as “Best Contestant of Round II” and received a special prize for “Best Performance of a Concerto with Chamber Orchestra.

“From a professional perspective, I became a very respected musician among professionals,” says Amosov, now the associate principal cellist in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. “The most important thing is I was heard and people could listen.”

Bagratuni also reflected on Amosov’s achievements. As an alum and winner of a silver medal in the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Bagratuni understands the rigors and dedication it takes to perform at the highest level. He remembers the three years he worked with Amosov, and recalls the financial and cultural challenges the young cellist overcame.

“Even through all those hardships, he managed to practice and perform,” Bagratuni says. “He practiced so much in his apartment that his landlord made him a special room in the basement so he wouldn’t keep the other tenants awake.”

Bagratuni hopes to bring Amosov back to MSU for a reunion recital in the near future.

“I think he has a very bright future ahead of him,” he says. “People who hear him feel the same.” 

See videos from Fedor Amosov’s performances

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