Anton Baranov

A question asked of every one of our visiting artists: what led you to guitar? Did you start with classical training or, as many do, with electric or rock guitar? I started playing guitar when I was 9-10 years old. I am afraid that I won't be able to recall all the details of the beginning of this process and the way I felt. We had a few non-expensive factory made guitars, and my father played and could read music a bit. I just wanted to learn to play, and that's it! Of course, like most teenagers, I was into rock and pop music, along with learning classical. An important moment here is when one realizes that rock is just a "high", and classical guitar is something different, something to commit to in all earnestness. The realization of this difference came to me around the age of 14-15.

Establishing oneself as a professional musician requires large amounts of time and effort, as well as incredible focus. What motivated you to fulfill these requirements through practicing?

All that you have listed is true. I personally always liked the process of conquering a challenge in practicing guitar. I have always experienced, up until this moment, the feeling of inner satisfaction when I see that something that was difficult or impossible to accomplish before has now been mastered.

Where did you study and how did you get to take part in the GFA International Artist Competition?

I had gone through all the steps of Russian music education: music school, college, and finally the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the oldest Russian institution of higher music education that is recognized internationally, including Canada and USA.  I started doing competitions quite early, beginning with smaller local and regional ones. Later I started travelling to Europe for more serious competitions. Of course, I took plenty of time to prepare for the GFA: I followed the mandatory pieces on the website, analyzed the recorded performances of GFA winners.  By the time when I applied to take part in the competition I had had ample experience of how to prepare, how to select pieces and build the program, how to work on the mandatory pieces. All in all, I wouldn't say that my GFA victory came to me by "sweat and blood"!

Your victory at the GFA has allowed you to start a world tour. Where have you had a chance to perform, what have  been your experiences?

I have seen North America only, for the most part. However, the value of winning the GFA is, apart from the monetary prize and a concert tour, is obtaining publicity. People from all over the world find out about you and start inviting to play. At the present moment, I have quite a few concert offers worldwide.

Are you colleagues or friends with your compatriots Dimitri Illarionov, Vladimir Gorbach, and Rovshan Mamedkuliev, all GFA winners from previous years? They have all visited the Vancouver stage in the past five years.

Yes, we have all known each other for a long time. Moreover, we even performed as a quartet last spring at a guitar festival in Kaluga.

Do you play in an ensemble?

Rather rarely lately. However, I have done quite a bit of ensemble playing in my student years, and it brought great joy and was very useful for me musically. In general, guitarists ought to play in ensembles as it is a unique experience that is irreplaceable.

Could you talk about your teaching experience?

I began teaching privately quite early, around the age of 15. Much later I started working at the conservatory. My perspective on pedagogy may seem strange. I observe that for many, teaching is just another way of making a living. There are few good pedagogues who really know their skill and are able to engage a student. For active performers, teaching is interesting in that the performer himself starts to analyze his own playing more deeply and ideally, is able to develop a more individual approach to teaching.

Do you think that, for a fulfilling professional life and musical career, one needs strict discipline, a sports routine, a diet, perhaps? How does one maintain balance being under constant stress of performing, learning new repertoire, rehearsals, etc?

One does need a certain routine, I believe. At the same time, the creative process has a searching quality and is difficult to combine with study plans, daily routine, etc. The choice of routine is rather an individual one.

Do you dream about playing guitar or hearing unknown music?

Unfortunately, I barely ever remember my dreams!