“UIMF Members With Igor and Vesna Gruppman”

Utah International Mountain Forum members attend a concert of the Orchestra at Temple Square conducted by Igor Gruppman

On Friday night, October 17, 2014 Utah International Mountain Forum members Jordan Giles, and Jesler Molina with their families enjoyed amazing performance of the Orchestra at Temple Square conducted by the outstanding Maestro Igor Gruppman.

Igor Gruppman currently is the professor of music in Rotterdam Conservatory and the concertmaster of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in addition to being the conductor at the Mariinsky Orchestra in Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation. As the conductor of the Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, he and his wife Vesna Gruppman visit Utah to perform concerts of classical music with the Orchestra during early spring and fall every year.

groupman During the performance of the Orchestra at Temple Square conducted by Igor Gruppman

This time two concerts during October 17-18, 2014 commemorated the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Orchestra at Temple Square and 10th anniversary of Igor Gruppman’s tenure as its conductor. The Orchestra at Temple Square was founded in 1999, under the direct involvement of Gordon B. Hinckley, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The concert opened with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in B-flat Minor, op. 23, with the piano solo performance by George Li, a 19-year-old piano prodigy whom the Washington Post praised for combining “Staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression.” Mr. Li is winner of multiple awards and competitions including the Gilmore Young Artist Award.

The second half of the concert featured Camille Saint-Saens’s Symphony no. 3 in C Minor, op.78 (“Organ”). Tabernacle organist Clay Christiansen performed the organ part on the symphony. Christiansen has been a Tabernacle organist for over 30 years, having also held positions at St. Mark’s Cathedral and with Congregation Kol Ami among many others.

Igor and Vesna Gruppman cofounded Gruppman International Violin Institute (GIVI) in 2002 “to select, train, and develop the careers of exceptionally gifted young violinists around the world using the latest videoconferencing technology.” GIVI contributes to the activities focused on improving lives of the mountain communities in the State of Utah and globally since joining the Mountain Partnership in 2010.

UVU and UIMF were fortunate to establish close relations with GIVI since that time. Igor and Vesna contributed to the success of the second international Women of the Mountains conference hosted in Orem, UT in 2011. GIVI also collaborated with the UIMF during the celebration at UVU the International Mountain Day, declared by the United Nations in December 5, 2013 by presenting a master class to play violin via Skype for students in Utah from Miami, FL. Currently UIMF and GIVI are looking for foundations interested in funding a project to teaching music via Skype for children in mountain areas of Central Asia by GIVI from Utah and Rotterdam.

After the concert the UIMF members were able to meet and to have a dinner with Igor and Vesna Gruppman and George Li, with his mother. Jordan Giles and Jesler Molina were able to interact and to talk on a personal level with Maestro, his wife and their guests about great performance and how they enjoyed music of both Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Camille Saint-Saens. They also congratulated Igor Gruppman’s 10th anniversary of his tenure as the conductor of the Orchestra at the Temple Square. Many questions were asked from George Li, who was almost the same age as both students: where he was born, how he achieved such a great successes and whether he plans to participate at the famous Pyotr Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow.

groupman1 From left to right: Sabrina Giles, Jordan Giles, Igor Gruppman, Vesna Stefanovich-Gruppman, Jesler Molina, and Rocio Ruiz before the dinner

Both Igor and Vesna enjoyed a meeting with UIMF members due to their special attention to raising new talents in music. They were glad to know that, for example Jordan Giles currently works as a staff member with Congressman Stewart (R-UT) in his Salt Lake City office and that his involvement in the promotion of mountain activities, in the state of Utah and globally, helped him advanced his professional career. In the same way cofounders of GIVI listened with great attention to a story of Jesler Molina’s’ involvement with the United Nations activities including his participation and statement made during the U.N. Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in New York in December 11, 2013.


From left to right: Cholpon Akmatalieva, George Li, Sabrina Giles, and Jordan Giles after dinner with Gruppman’s.

Both sides also discussed future projects and collaborations between UVU and the Gruppman International Violin Institute such as the celebration of the International Mountain Day to be held this year at UVU on December 5, 2014 and the fourth international Women of the Mountains to be held at UVU from during October 7-9, 2015. Both Igor and Vesna expressed a strong interest in continuing their support and contribution to such joint initiatives and projects.

 Cholpon Akmatalieva, Adjunct Faculty, History and Political Science Department, Utah Valley University