Children, Real Life Stories

Viliam Khailo: “There’s no progress without struggle”

We met Viliam in 2018, a talented musician who plays the violin and the piano. Viliam had gone through treatment for leukaemia with the support of Podari Zhizn, and in January 2018, he came to perform at the Gift of Life gala. Read Viliam’s story here.

Today, in a new interview, Viliam tells us where this young musician competing in the Winners’ Games gets his inspiration and his “energy boost”.

Viliam, though you’re still only 17, you have a very mature dream. Can you tell us about it?

My main dream is to create a charity for children who need aid and who want to get into the arts, especially music. Music is the very soul of art—it influences people’s feelings like nothing else. As an art form, I see it as alive and constantly evolving.

We know you’re still studying at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Have you already decided what you’re going to do once you graduate?

Learning music is the work of a lifetime. It’s best to get your basic musical education in Russia (at a conservatory), and then ideally, continue your studies abroad. That’s why for now, I’m studying at the Conservatory School under Prof. Sergey Kravchkenko, and after that I’m planning to study at various specialised violin and piano schools.

Every country has its own approach to the study of music. It’s said the music of a great composer truly comes live in the land of his birth. For example, study of the violin in Germany is based around Bach. Vienna, Austria, is the place to study the Viennese classical composers, while the Spanish spirit of Pablo de Sarasate comes across most clearly in Spain’s violin school. The Russian school is unique because it allows a musician to engage with any style of classical music.

Are you as fascinated by Prokofiev’s art as you were a year ago?

I’m interested in every composer. Each has a certain special quality to their music. Right now, I’m particularly interested in Bach, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Vieuxtemps, and Skriabin.

Of course, if you want to truly understand a composer, you have to not only study his biography and the evolution of his art, but also to get into the right state of mind. Sometimes you have to listen to a piece several times over before you can come to understand it and love it. That’s why you shouldn’t leap to conclusions about what you’re hearing. Take your time and give it your full attention.

What calls to you more often, your violin or your piano keys?

I’ve been playing the violin since my early childhood. It’s become an inseparable part of me. Whereas I started playing the piano in earnest after I moved to Moscow for my studies. By now, it’s grown hard to pick between the two, since they let me develop my music from different angles.

Is there anything that inspires you other than music?

Films, books, paintings… anything art-related can be a source of inspiration for me. Talking to interesting people is another one. There are different styles of communication when it comes to mood, speech, or voice. Everyone has their own voice. You have to find the one that appeals to you personally.

I enjoy just observing the world around me. When I pay close enough attention, I can find the answer to any question.

How did you find the Ten-Year Anniversary Winners’ Games?

When I first found out about the Winners’ Games, it lit a fire inside me. I got to try out every kind of competition, from football to swimming, and find out how good I’d be at any of them.

Viliam preparing to compete in swimming at the Winners’ Games

The Games were filled with an atmosphere of joy, victory, and happiness for all. It was as if the players’ feelings were pouring into everyone around them. It was a unique experience for every one of us, and I want there to be more experiences that bring so much colour to people’s lives.

It surprised me that the Games made me feel the same way as my concerts do: you stand on a stage, you offer them new feelings, and they give you new feelings right back. You can call a concert a success when both performer and listener find themselves emotionally fulfilled. I found myself feeling the very same way at the Games.

With Alexandre Frish, clown and performer of Slava’s Snowshow

What was the most memorable part?

That would be the evening dance parties. After a whole day spent competing, you get your second wind, and you go dancing to the music of today, by well-known performers. It gives you a huge buzz.

Of course, spending time with other people also stuck in my memory. How could it not? Everyone at the Games—coordinators, participants, volunteers, visitors—found themselves excited to socialise with each other. It was a very powerful drive, and it made the participants feel like true winners.

Do you have anything you want to say to your peers who find themselves going through hard times, like suffering from an illness?

I want to encourage every child faced with a trial to believe in yourself and in your dream. Your dream is sure to come true, and knowing that will make you stronger. Don’t treat your situation like a done deal, and fight for what matters to you.

Nobody else can take on this challenge for you. Your parents, loved ones, doctors, volunteers, and donors can do a great deal to help you. But in the end, you’re the one who has to make the final leap to victory. And once you’ve won, you’ll find yourself stronger and more mature. Your life will change a lot, all for the better.

Do you have a slogan to live by?

I have several. Here are a couple: “there’s no progress without struggle”, and “never doubt that dreams can come true”.

Gift of Life thanks all donors and supporters for giving children like Viliam a better chance to beat cancer. Thank you!