Beyond the Keys

Yuliya Minina's Artistic Expression and Impact

By Chiara Guastella

On Friday, February 2, 2024, Dr. Yuliya Minina will take the stage at Winifred Smith Hall for the second performance in the Music Faculty Artist Series. Dr. Minina shared some of her experiences all across the world, her love for teaching and her versatility as a musician.

Minina is a contemporary pianist—her resume includes work as a soloist and collaborative performer, an accompanist and a piano teacher. At age five, she began her musical education at the Stolyarsky School-Lyceum, a school for musically gifted children in Odesa, Ukraine. Minina then attended the National Music Academy in Odesa, graduating with distinction. She earned her Master’s degree at UC Irvine and her Doctorate in Musical Arts at the University of Washington. She has performed in a variety of places, such as Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Mexico and the United States.

“I am a contemporary musician, which means that I do everything. I am a pianist in all senses. I am an educator and an entertainer. I didn’t come to UCI specifically to teach; I was hired as a collaborative pianist,” said Minina. “However, I always end up teaching wherever I go, because this is what I truly love doing. (…) I have plenty of knowledge about music and arts in general, and I love sharing it.”

Minina hopes to share her emotions through music. “I want my audience to feel. I am a medium through which the composers, most of them dead, can talk to the audience, make them experience all kinds of emotions. I always like to finish my recitals with the music that will make the audience feel warm and loved. It doesn’t matter what a whirlpool of feelings they went through while listening to the concert; I want people to leave happy and with a feeling of inner peace. The best way to connect with the audience is through authenticity.”

She continued to share about the importance of music—most importantly, the importance of attending live music. “Like every other art, music has gained and suffered from the rapid growth of technology. Because music is so accessible now, many think that they don’t need live music anymore. Any live performance is a group act; you, as an audience member, bring a lot to the performance. Without the audience’s energy, a performer can only do so much.”

For this performance, Minina will be accompanied by her colleagues and friends, cellist Yevgeniya Kobylyanska and opera singer Frances Young Bennett.

“When I started thinking about the program for this concert, I knew that I wanted to play the music of Slavic female composers. I also knew that I wanted to play music not only solo, but also with my friends, because I like the shared experience of making music on stage.”

Traditionally, Minina also likes to include a couple of lesser-known works in her programs. Her primary intention when choosing her pieces for the performance, many by Slavic female composers, was to give voice to these female composers.

“I want everyone who felt alienated at some point in their lives to feel at peace during the concert. I do the same in my classes. I make sure that all students feel seen and heard.”

In 2022, Minina coordinated a benefit concert to help her home country of Ukraine during the devastating attacks as an outlet to help provide relief to those in need. 

“It is very hard to live in a safe place, knowing that your home country is under attack and not being able to do anything to help.” Minina continued by recognizing that she received a lot of support from fellow colleagues and friends, asking how they could help her and her country. Through the concert, she “gave people who wanted to help an opportunity to do something that they do best – talk to the audience through music.”

Minina has an incredible resume and shared how important each part of it is to her career. “Playing solo gives me an absolute freedom to pick any music that I want.” Minina jokingly added that playing solo is “a heaven for introverts.” It allows her to connect individually with every single member of the audience, calling it “a very intimate process.”

Minina also expanded on what it means to be a collaborative performer. “Working in collaborative settings gives me an opportunity to lead and to learn, to interact verbally and emotionally. Performing as a group on stage is a very unique experience, where you simultaneously interact with the audience and with each performer.”

Minina offers versatility in both Western and Eastern European music.

“My job, as an immigrant, is not only to remember my roots, but also to introduce US audiences to the music that they may want to perform/listen to in the future themselves,” she shared. “Eastern European music is not equal to Russian music, and I feel that it is my job to make sure that American audiences are exposed to the variety of cultures and ethnicities that Eastern Europe has to offer.”

Dr. Yuliya Minina will bring her versatility and personality to Winifred Smith Hall’s stage, and we are ecstatic to see her incredibly diverse set. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Winifred Smith Hall, and tickets are available through the CTSA Box Office.

2024 Music Faculty Artist Series events: 

Jan. 27, Music Faculty Artist Series: Hossein Omoumi: Innovations in Pedagogy and Instruments Design

Feb. 2, Music Faculty Artist Series: Yuliya Minina, piano

Feb. 9, Music Faculty Artist Series: Mari Kimura, violin

March 2, Music Faculty Artist Series: Lorna Griffitt, piano

April 5, Music Faculty Artist Series: Matt Hare, double bass

May 19, Music Faculty Artist Series: Dennis Kim, violin

Posted Date: 
Thursday, February 1, 2024