We had the good fortune of connecting with Sergei Vassiliev and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sergei, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I want to debunk the myth that music is not a career. There is a myth of the homeless musician, the conventional thinking that unless you win American Idol, secure that college professorship or orchestra job, you will never make money or have a career as a musician. This has not been my experience. Being a serious student of music will teach you some of the most important skills for success in the real world. Most people I know who work hard at it and stick with it, are able to make a decent living as a musician.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a professional clarinetist in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra and a clarinet teacher. Also, recently I started a non profit classical concert series in Colorado Springs called EPIC. Being a musician is not an easy profession, but I think the ratio of how rewarding it is to how difficult it is has to be better than most other professions. Playing an instrument on a high level is demanding in a way being a professional athlete might be. You must work hard every day of your life and you fail most of the time, however the few successes you achieve can change the course of your life. To be a good musician, you must solve problems creatively. Every day, you must invent new ways to get out of difficult situations. It prepares you to be good at navigating the real world. Also, it gives you love and appreciation of learning. Passion for life long learning has definitely contributed to success in my crazy endeavors.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Almost any morning is great for many beautiful hikes in and around Colorado Springs. Definitely Garden of the Gods is a must see. Downtown Colorado Springs has a lot of new excellent spots like Fat Sully’s or COATI for lunch and drinks. Any Broadmoor restaurant is excellent for dinner. After dinner – an EPIC concert, where you can listen to world class live music and enjoy a visually beautiful show, meet the musicians, enjoy some refreshments.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am very lucky to have a strong support system – My amazing wife, Shauna Smith; My parents and brother in Ukraine and my wife’s parents also – Pat and Berta Smith; the chair of our board at EPIC – Larry Jones, and the rest of our team; all of my students, who teach me more than I teach them; my musician colleagues, who inspire me and challenge me; the beautiful state of Colorado and the community of Colorado Springs, who helped me realize that if I turn off social media and TV news and go outside and talk to real people – these people around me are kind and intelligent and worth working with and for.
Photos are taken by Nate Cuccaro, Jerry McCauley, Sergei Vassiliev. Logo by Dan Losapio.