Twenty years of Nikola Melnikov’s 24-year-long life have been dedicated to music and piano. His parents signed the four-year-old boy with a musical talent up for hockey and piano lessons. Nikola didn’t make the final choice in favour of music and grand piano until after high school, when he was accepted to the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music.
Six years ago, as a student of one of Russia’s top music universities, he decided to try his hand at composing, and began with applied and entertaining music, writing soundtracks for the sensational hip-hop opera Cops on Fire, and fashion shows of Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Russian designers. He performed at Moscow night clubs and in respectable concert halls.
In 2015, Nikola took 150 piano sketches and compositions, written over the course of four years, selected the best 13 and assembled them into his debut album #22, whose first performance took place at the Moscow International House of Music. The composer and piano player sees a special magic in number 22, which has been present in one way or another in all the best moments of his life. In the first week of its release on iTunes, the album made it to the Top 3 in the classical/neoclassical music category in Russia, and within two weeks it was on iTunes’ global Top 100 in this category. Nikola’s romantic pieces, which resemble dialogues with his favourite composers Petr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rakhmaninov, immediately caught people’s fancy.
In addition to his passionate and semi-improvisational grand piano performances, Nikola is apt to surprise the audiences with unexpected sprinklings of electronic sounds and even DJ sets that may include some hip-hop tracks. The young composer is keen on the new opportunities, available to the musicians by the combination of classical music traditions and new technologies. Nikola’s second album, which was recently presented in Sweden and the US, will be vocal and electronic — right now he is mostly interested in joint projects with opera singers, and in the ideas of immersive opera and theater, which he sees as part of his future career. But he doesn’t neglect his Gnessin Academy training either, and after the electronic album plans to record a program of acoustic pieces with an orchestra.
For his March concert as part of the SOUND UP festival, the 24-year-old composer will display both sides of his talent, performing both the piano pieces that brought him the renown, and the new works, amplified by electronica.
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