Maria “Masha” Pisarenko of the east Las Vegas Valley has played piano since she was 5, living in Siberia.
“In Europe — Russia in particular — you start lessons very early: five or six years old,” Pisarenko said. “It’s all organized. I attended a regular school and a music school — one in the morning and one at night. I practiced at least five hours a day and at 12, I was selected by the government of the Siberian region to study in Moscow at the Moscow State Conservatory School for gifted children.”
Pisarenko spent her early years in what was then the Soviet Union and lived in Moscow from the age of 12 until 2006, when she moved to Las Vegas following a six-month stint in Los Angeles. She began taking classes at UNLV and earned her doctorate in 2017. She moved here, she said, because at the time everyone wanted to come to America.
On June 5, she shared her experience at Summerlin Library with “From Russia with Love,” a concert featuring music from different cultures. About 100 people attended.
“Music is language, and language is music,” she said. “They reflect history, traditions, beliefs. It helps us open our minds to new ideas, new ways of looking at the world. Much of the fear that exists in this country comes from lack of understanding — of not knowing about different cultures.”
The concert was the last of a series that started in March, Pisarenko said. A new season will start next year.
Lillian Roberts of Henderson, who sang a ballad at the event, said it’s important to develop a culture for music in the United States that connects people.
“In Las Vegas, the culture is centered around casinos — the glitz and glamour,” Roberts said. “It’s difficult for people like myself and Masha, who know the importance of all art forms. Music is important to all of our development and it brings people together; it tells a story.”