Its time to leave Moscow. In a few hours I’m going to be on a plane to Zurich to see my students in Trossingen, Germany, where I teach. There will be some intense days of lessons and I’m looking forward to seeing them all and hearing their progress and telling them all about the competition here in Moscow.

On reflection I feel that this could become one of the most important competitions in the world. Its rare these days to have an international competition without a recording being sent as the first round. I have seen many times, and just recently how this can be abused. Apparently one candidate in the Geneva competition recently clearly wasn’t the person who played on the recording, and accountability is a genuine concern for students and teachers worldwide regarding who chooses and the criteria. I don’t agree that this is just the way of the world as an esteemed colleague in the USA recently said to me, it needs looking at again.

If the Tchaikovsky Conservatory manage to join the International Federation, a process that is on track, and if they sort out the Visa issues for applying students. It took SO much to get the visas for Kyeong Ham and his pianist and cost him a fortune, it will be placed to become the most important competition of its kind in the future. I must add that it also seems a little unfair that Kyeong had to pay 50% foreign witholding tax on his winnings and the resident Russians don’t….

The most fascinating thing for me has been not just the technical level of the Russian performers but their youth and musicality. Its really a new world out here.

I had an interesting chat with Valery Popov yesterday, he’s such a dynamo and good friend to music here. He was talking about the new oboe scene in Moscow and how positive it is. I also had a lovely farewell chat with Tamara Parshina, the Organising Chairwoman. She lived in London for several years in the old times, and told me with such a light in her eyes that she had danced with her husband at Buckingham Palace ‘not once but several times’.

I always have mixed feelings about leaving places I have bonded with and committed myself to in terms of work. I’m always excited to fly, I still love it, if not the check in procedure at airports, and I’m certainly happy to leave the Azerbaijani digs, despite being grateful for the strength of the radiators, the cold is awesome and penetrating, but mostly this time I’m sad to say goodbye to Philip Nodel and Varia, to Dima Bulgakov, and to Alexei Utkin, who have been the heart and soul of this experience for me. They represent the best musical side of what’s here and show the real welcoming heart of modern Russia, no visa required!

I must thank James Turnbull for helping me with my website and for posting these messages for you to read. Thanks James!