Viliam Khailo, a talented violinist and pianist from Sevastopol, lives and breathes music. Even during his treatment for leukaemia at the Dmitry Rogachev Centre for Paediatric Haematology, which ended in December 2017, he kept his violin by his side.
Almost immediately after leaving hospital, Viliam came to London to perform at the Gift of Life Old New Year’s Eve Gala. He made one of his dreams come true, performing alongside the virtuoso Vladimir Spivakov. We talked to Viliam and learned whether the coronavirus quarantine was a barrier between him and his beloved music.
How and where did you spend self-isolation?
I mostly spent it indoors. Between my music practice and my studies, I didn’t have a chance to get bored, and the time passed swiftly but peacefully. I didn’t feel any fear or uncertainty. I was focused on the thing I loved, which let me distract myself from distressing news.
Viliam plays Alexander Scriabin Impromptus Op.12 No.2
So you didn’t find yourself getting immersed in a state of anxiety like many people around you?
Rather, I periodically found myself dwelling on the question of what would happen next. But I understand that regardless of what happens with the quarantine in the future, I’ll continue practising music and preparing for concerts. These thoughts help me stop being anxious deep down. After all, if you have a goal in life, then you have to step onto the path towards it, and keep going without letting anything stop you.
How did your online practice sessions and performances go? It’s a completely different format, and not all musicians manage to adapt.
I adjusted to the new conditions of my musical activities fairly quickly. Both learning from my tutor via Skype and recording video clips for the exam happened smoothly. It was valuable camera experience. Every musician stands to benefit from hearing his playing from an outside perspective. The quarantine gave me the opportunity to do so.
I also took part in online concerts with other musicians. That was also a very interesting and valuable experience. Within that format, you have to be much more expressive. Your emotions have to be twice as powerful so the audience can feel them even through the screen.
Viliam continued his music tuitions online on the quarantine
Did the quarantine remind you of the forced isolation in hospital while you were being treated for leukaemia?
There were some associations, but I didn’t find myself feeling gloomy. Of course, with each day of self-isolation, I had a stronger desire to take the stage, to perform live before the public and to offer up my emotions and my music like before. I felt the same way while I was being treated in hospital. That feeling is the only connection between these two very different periods in my life.
What did you learn and achieve over these two and a bit months?
Apart from polishing my violin and piano skills, I learned to play table tennis, read a lot, watched fiction films, spent time with my friends, and, of course, listened to music. There were some things I’d been constantly putting off, and now I suddenly had the time to take care of them.
You turned eighteen on the 24th of June. How did you celebrate?
This year, my birthday was the same day as the Victory Parade, which made the mood twice as festive. I celebrated with my family, my parents and my brother, in a small and warm family environment.
Igor Vernik, Chulpan Khamatova and Viliam at the Gala 2018 in London
I won’t ask about your birthday wish, just to make sure it comes true. But could you tell us about your plans for the near future?
No surprises there. My plans for the future are all about study and self-improvement. I want to grow as a musician, and continue my studies abroad, where I can learn new things and try different methodologies.
A good basic education is important in music, and I’m getting it at the Moscow State Conservatory. The Russian school is unique: it allows you to grasp any style of classical music. And then each country has its own distinctive features in musical training, with its own composers being considered the authorities. Beyond that, it’s in a great composer’s homeland that his music has real Life. That’s what really inspires and attracts me.
What wish would you like to make for the children in our care who are receiving treatment and are in quarantine in hospital right now?
Above all, I wish all the kids health and inner calm. It’s important to remember that what matters isn’t just the goal, but the path you take to achieve it. It’s during the journey that we become stronger and wiser.
I also want to wish everyone confidence in their strength. There’s this saying: “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. I don’t disagree with it, but it does have another interpretation. I believe that a healthy mind heals the body. So don’t give up! You have to believe in your dream, and it will definitely come true, no matter what troubles you face in life.
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