"The light in the hall is turned off. It only still illuminates the stage because the concert is about to begin… I like this hall. I like this hall very much. Not only because this is “The Grand Hall of Musikschule Konservatorium Bern”. But also because every time I enter it (no matter what for - to play or to listen), it takes me back to the late 2001. And that is when it actually all began…"

- an excerpt from "The Memoirs: an internal look at The Stolyarsky String Quartet"
manuscript (unpublished) by Stanislav Sagdeyev

Even though the Stolyarsky String Quartet has experienced quite a few crucial and sometimes unexpected changes, the following is tacitly assumed to be the one and only truly "authentic compound" of the SSQ:

Andrey Murza, Violin
Aleksey Semenenko, Violin
Stas Sagdeyev, Viola
Maksym Dyedikov, Cello

As it began

Ukrainische Kulturtage Bern Festival poster

Seems like at the time of 2001 a string quartet as a genre had been long forgotten at the Odessa Stolyarsky Special Music School. However, that was just about to change. By that time the swiss-ukrainian collaboration in terms of a cultural exchange (initiated in 2000) grew to the extent that young people from Odessa Stolyarsky School were invited to take part in the festival of the ukrainian culture ("Ukrainische Kulturtage") which was going to take place in Bern (Switzerland). Apart from a small chamber orchestra and a bandura ensemble, organisers of the festival wanted to see a string quartet... which was only yet to be created.

The administration of the Stolyarsky school asked a well-experienced Viola teacher Vladimir Malichkin to be in charge of the "creation" and preparation of the quartet. It was decided that the following young people will play:
Andrey Murza - a very talanted violinist and quite successful at that time already
Lilya Makarova - a girl we did not know anything about except that she played the violin.
Stanislav Sagdeyev - just switched to Viola from Violin and had no idea what was it all about
Dmitriy Khohlachov (known as D. Diamant) - a guy a bit older than we were but said to be a good cellist.
Above all, we had something in common. No-one ever played in a string quartet before.

Quartet after their first concert at the Roerich houseIt was not easy after all. Although, being taken by the process itself, everyone got so excited about the quartet that by the beginning of November the program was quite ready. The first pieces performed by the SSQ were:
J. Haydn - String Quartet Op.3 No.5 (Presto - Andante cantabile - Menuetto - Scherzando)
L. Anderson's "The Waltzing Cat"
A. Dargomyzhskiy - Polka D-Dur
Moreover, every member of the quartet also had to play a solo piece (as requested by the Swiss side).

The newly created quartet took part in their first public concert at the Odessa Roerich House and soon after at the Grand Hall of the Stolyarsky School. It was not long before the whole group of young musicians had to leave for Switzerland.

Virtuosen aus Odessa

The program of the first concert of the quartet in BernThe musicians arrived to Bern right in the middle of the "Ukrainische Kulturtage" festival. The concert of the quartet was scheduled for the 15th of November however it did not have a name at that time and the concert was announced just as "Junge Virtuosen aus Odessa" (Young virtuosos from Odessa). There was also something else about it. As the concert was organised with the connection to SINFONIMA-foundation, four musical instruments from Geigenbauschule Brienz were given to the Stolyarsky school for the students. And the young quartet had to play their whole concert on these newly given instruments having only one day to practise. What a challenge!

The concert took place at the Grand Hall of Musikschule Konservatorium Bern and apparently became a huge success. Soon after the concert, the director of the Musikschule Mr Werner Schmitt, while expressing his approval of what recently happened, said: "If you decide to stay together and make a new program I will invite you to Switzerland again. What do you think?" Everyone said: "Yes! We are staying!"

Black and white

a picture from the 2002 SSQ photo shootNevertheless, really soon L. Makarova left the quartet and was replaced with another girl - Ekaterina Mamonova. Ever since the quartet became aware of their trip to Switzerland in July 2002 they seemed to be determined to have their program as polished as possible. This time Vladimir Malichkin chose for them the first movement of the Beethoven string quartet Op.18 No.4 and the whole Mozart's quartet kh.160. Later, two pieces of “a famous canadian composer” F. Smallet were added: “Spanish dance: A coast of the Sun” and “Nocturne”, which both everyone liked a lot. It is also important to say that this time Mr Schmitt also invited Vladimir and his daughter Lilya to come with the quartet.

As they took everything quite seriously they sewed the suits for the upcoming swiss concerts which, however, turned out to be quite old-fashioned for Western Europe - they were black and white styled. Beginning from March 2002 their practise intensified. They also took part in the 3rd International "Children to children" festival.

The Quartet with Vladimir Malichkin and L. Malichkina in Geneva in 2002The Swiss "tour" were scheduled to begin on the 1st of July, however, they only managed to depart on the 3rd because of the tickets problem. Anyway, there were 3 concerts to play and, due to being late, the first concert was just on the next day at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva. That day the musicians met Sylvia Zaremba, a pianist, who accompanied all of their solo peices during the concerts. However, a little misunderstanding concerning the program occured, so, Andrey and Dima were not able to play their solos at this first concert.

At that time, by  the way, the quartet still had no actual name people could remember them by, and as there already was "Odessa String Quartet" in Odessa, Mr Schimitt suggested they were credited as "New Odessa String Quartet" during further concerts.

Next concert was on the 9th of July at Michaelskirche in Meiringen, a nice place not far from famous Brienz (where the instruments the quartet played were made). The performance turned out to be very successful. It all was also witnessed by a bunch oo young people who came along with the quartet in a bus from Bern to experience the recital.

The final concert the quartet played this time took place at the Royal Hall of the "Bellevue-Palace" hotel in Bern.

Changes

Seemed like after experiencing great success the quartet driven by the desire to achieve more rushed to practise. However, quite unexpectedly, E. Mamonova left the quartet by the beginning of 2003. Having invited a talanted violinist Aleksey Semenenko to join the quartet turned out to be one of the most significant changes in the history of the Stolyarsky String Quartet. Although the quartet had just made a replacement, soon enough D. Khohlachov expressed his intentions concerning the decision not to go on with his career of a musician. His place took Maksym Dyedikov, one of the most sucessfull cello players at the Stolyarsky School.

to be concluded soon