Pianistin - Odgerel Sampilnorov

The moment she touches the piano keys, everything else seems to stand still. With the incredible lightness of her playing, the young artist breathes new life, note by note, into the pieces she performs, even those that are already well known. While listening, you can almost sense the places she is drawing inspiration from for her unique performance. As she herself puts it, her main sources are nature and its landscapes, painting and, not least, the people in her life. Odgerel Sampilnorov is one of Mongolia’s best known pianists. She grew up in Ulaanbaatar in the 1980s in a small Soviet flat typical of the era. Her mother taught sport; her father was a basketball player. She discovered her love of music early on and began taking piano lessons at the age of seven, playing on a Russian upright. The rest of the story reads like a fairy tale: As a young woman she herself gave piano lessons.

The father of one of her students invited her to his summer camp so she could play for the guests there. Her playing enchanted one guest in particular: Gabriele Menegatti, Italy’s ambassador to China at the time, who helped arrange a scholarship from the Italian government.

That allowed the talented young artist to begin studying at the conservatory in Perugia in 2006. She graduated summa cum laude, one of the 16 best students in her year. In 2010, she was awarded the Luigi Castellani Scholarship, one of Italy’s most prestigious music prizes. During her studies she participated in master classes with professors such as Sergio Perticaroli, Maxim Mogilevsky, Bart Van Oort, Ivary Ilia, Michele Campanella, Valerij Voskabojnikov, Stefan Boisten and Luca Monti. From 2011 to 2015 she gained further experience at the International Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola under the direction of Stefano Fiuzzi. Sampilnorov is now living and performing in Ulan-bator once again.

Important Concerts

2010 Performance as a soloist on the historical piano Erard with the Chamber Orchestra at the National Gallery of Umbria. In December of that year, Odgerel had her Debut at the Teatro Morlacchi playing II Piano Concerto, Chopin with conductor Francescho Leonetti and the orchestra of the Conservatory of Perugia.

2011 Odgerel opened the Opening Ceremony of the Auditorium of Perugia “St.Francesco al prato” with the Symphony Orchestra of Perugia and conductor Carlo Palleschi.

2015 she played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Mongolian Philharmonic Orchestra (Maestro Nyamdash Dashtseren) for the Virtuoso Gala Concert at the Opera and Ballet Theatre of Mongolia.

Odgerel gave solo recitals in Beijing, Hong Kong, Rome and other cities of Italy and held concerts in Spain and Germany as well.

Ten questions for Odgerel Sampilnorov

How would you describe your art in one sentence?
My art allows the spirit to soar.

Art or love?
Love.

What would life be like for you if there were no art?
Meaningless and impossible.

Which art project would you attempt if money were no object?
I would build an incredible concert hall with amazing acoustics. I would also build an open-air theatre in Ulaanbaatar and in the countryside, in the midst of Mongolia’s extraordinarily beautiful landscape, and would organise international music festivals there.

What is the best place in your native country, Mongolia?
Batshireet sum in Khentii Aimag. [Note: an aimag is an administrative district in Mongolia.] That is where my grandmother is from. It’s in the country’s northeast, on the Russian border. Many Buriads live there, and the landscape is extremely beautiful – even the animals that graze there are prettier than in other areas. I’ve been to nine different aimags in Mongolia, but the one my grandmother is from is, in my opinion, the most beautiful. It’s even more beautiful than Khuvsgul Aimag, which many consider the most magnificent. Maybe I feel the way I do because it’s where I visited my grandmother and therefore have many wonderful childhood memories of the area.

What is your favourite place in the city you live in?
I like to take walks and have breakfast in the area around Baga Toiru and in School No. 5. The city there still looks like the old Ulaanbaatar, although many buildings have now been renovated and rebuilt. The area is also very green and has many parks. There aren’t yet a lot of high-rise buildings all standing next to each other.

What does “Mongolia” mean to you?
My dream, my roots and, at the same time, the place where, again and again, I have to confront myself.

How much of Mongolia can be found in your art?
In the beginning, very little. Now, more and more. I’m still looking for the thing that will make me happy.

If you could wish three things for Mongolia, what would they be?
1. An outstanding conductor.
2. A strong team to support and advise him or her.
3. Reforms in the area of art, culture and education.

Who is your biggest role model?
Jesus Christ. The Mongolian composer B. Sharav. The conductor Carlos Kleiber.