The recital begins. Entering from stage left comes the performer. Another man follows closely behind, the performer’s accompanist. The audience claps before the performer begins their recital, and Vladimiir Odinokikh accompanies. Vladimir Odinokikh, a well-respected musician and KSC music faculty member, came to the U.S. from Russia about 20 years ago. His passion for music started at the age of four attending prestigious institutes in Russia, practicing up to eight hours per day.
“From the beginning, I only wanted to be a pianist. Only now I started thinking oh my gosh why didn’t I try something else… my whole life was piano and music,” Odinokikh said.
The moment he wakes up in the morning, he said he plays the piano, a cup of coffee by his side. His solo and collaborative work has led him to win numerous awards throughout his lifetime and continue his career at KSC.
“Since I started work at the college, I was really impressed to know by how pleasant [it is] to work in the music department because… usually when you’re in art, from my experience, it’s noisy to work with people because everyone has different personalities, not very friendly, and sometimes jealousy, but here the music department is so friendly, so helpful, it’s very pleasant,” Odinokikh said.
While being involved in many musical ensembles at KSC, such as choral groups, concert choir and chamber singers, he also partakes in other music activities within the area outside of the college. He participates in “The Keene Choral” in addition to his frequent work as a rehearsal pianist with the “Raylynmor Opera,” where he can express his love for opera and production.
“For pianists, it’s also a very interesting experience because… [you use] your imagination [in order to] make the sound closer to [an] orchestra sound,” Odinokikh said.
Sandra Howard, director of Concert Choir, has worked with Odinokikh for roughly eight years within his pianist role at KSC, as well as with the community ensembles.
“He is an internationally renowned world-class pianist and we are so incredibly lucky to have someone on his caliber at the college,” Howard said. “His tremendous skill does not prevent him from connecting with those who are still trying to develop their own skill.”
Despite Odinokikh’s complete focus on evolving the musical capabilities of others, he also knows how to have fun. One of Howard’s favorite memories was the year Chamber Singers performed a song about coffee called “Java Jive” by the Manhattan Transfer..
“At the beginning of the performance, he scrambled around the stage and he plugged in a coffee grinder,” Howard said.
With Odinokikh’s ability to inspire and support college students in the music and arts department, he has noticed how much his students have done the same for him.
“When I started working at Keene State College, I was so impressed by [the] level of professionalism of Keene State College students… working with them inspired me and [gave] me something completely new and fresh. I am happy with [the] kind of work that I’m doing now,” Odinokikh said.
Incorporating his many years of experience, he has pushed his students to exceed their expectations and go beyond the boundaries. Multiple of his students have won numerous competitions with the help of his mentorship and patience.
“He challenges me as a conductor… to be sure that I’m giving him clear information so then he can respond in a musical way,” Howard said.
According to an article from his website, “Vladimir recognizes that not all students are destined or motivated to win competitions, but as a prize-winner himself, he understands how to support, nurture and motivate a student to achieve their full potential.”
Howard firmly believes that Odinokikh is a valuable member of the music department within the faculty and the students.
“It’s most important that he has respect of the students and he has earned it so well through his impeccable musicianship and his kindness,” Howard said.
Reilly Sanborn can be contacted