Sandro Tsomaia - Georgian pianist living in US

Alexandre (Sandro) Tsomaia is young—only 32 years oldbut is already an acclaimed Georgian classical pianist who lives and works in Chicago. He shares his time between being an Assistant Music Director at the St. Barnabas Church in Chicago, a piano Instructor at DePaul University’s Community Division, teaching group piano classes at Ravinia Lawndale School, and performing concerts both in and outside the US.

“I was 14 years old when I first came to America, studying in a summer schoolbefore that I lived in Tbilisi and went to the Zakaria Paliashvili Central Music School,” Tsomaia told GEORGIA TODAY. “I was accepted to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where I studied with Steven Perry. Then, in 2003, I entered Indiana Univeristy and was a student of Evelyn Brancart, and then Professor Edward Auer.” From there, his musical career really began to take off, seeing him win the Indianapolis Matinee Musical Competition in 2006 and performing at the venues like the Chicago Cultural Center within the ‘Myra Hess’ series of concerts, and at Columbia University's Miller Theater, joining another famous Georgian pianist, Lekso Toradze, and his studio. He has upcoming solo concerts already planned in Colorado, Oregon and Macedonia this July.

“Living just a concert life alone is hard, and only few, already very well known, musicians can afford to do it, so I’m happy that there’s this diversification in my life, and I can combine it with teaching. In July, I’ll be teaching at the Chicago Chamber Music Festival,” Tsomaia said, adding, “I have a chance to see all the greatest performers in the world here in Chicago. Riccardo Muti, who’s the head of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, regularly holds master classes, and it’s the greatest pleasure for me to attend them. I can talk about music and discuss all the different things all day long there!” he said. Tsomaia named Claudio Arrau, Sviatoslav Richter, and Daniil Trifonov among his favorite pianists.

“The Georgian teaching school is very strong; you’ll never find the same approach to students here, but still one has to have a chance to get outside Georgia,” he says, and recalls those who taught and influenced him: Eter Andjaparidze, Lekso Toradze and Eliso Virsaladze, with whom he attended Scuola di Musica di Fiesole in Italy. He seems proud when he says that one of his former students won a competition to continue his studies at the same school he attended in the US.

“It was quite challenging for me to be in Italy, mainly because of financial difficulties. The Ministry of Culture of Georgia promised to help, but they were late with payment and so it was really hard. Nevertheless, I do remember it as a wonderful time. It was then that I decided to return to the US and try establishing myself here, and so for the last five years I’ve been living in Chicago,” Tsomaia said. “All my life is music, it’s filled with music and I can be happy with just listening to it. One of the best experiences was with an amazing project, together with Toradze studio, when we performed nine sonatas by Prokofiev, which was very well received by The New York Times.”

When asked about a new project to record a disc of Georgia music along with his friend, Jaime Gorgojo, he replied that “all of the genius artists have recorded Mozart already and you have to offer something new.” He said he would love to come with concerts to Georgia, but so far he only manages to come home on holidayhis last visit involved a trip to the Upper Samegrelo region with his foreign friends, who he says are already planning to return to Georgia.

Nino Gugunishvili

01 June 2017 18:18