A Swedish figure skater skates to the music of a Russian diplomat

To accompany his performance at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Sweden’s best figure skater, Adrian Schultheiss, has chosen the musical composition “My Way” by Russia’s General Consul in Götebor, David Mnatsakanyan.

For those long acquainted with David Mnatsakanyan the choice of the Swedish figure skater comes as no surprise. The general consul’s friends know that he is successfully managing two careers — that of a diplomat and of a composer.

David Mnatsakanyan’s gift did not appear out of the blue: before entering Moscow State Institute of International Relations he had graduated from a specialized music school under the Erevan Conservatory with major in violin and had worked in the Gosteleradio Symphony Orchestra of Armenia. But diplomacy “overpowered” music, although at the institute Mnatsakanyan often performed in amateur concerts and was known to his friends as “Maestro”. Fortunately, the triumph of diplomacy was not final and irrevocable; otherwise we might never have known the works of the composer David Mnatsakanyan, including “Christmas Fantasy” and “My Way”, dedicated to his wife and daughter.

Mnatsakanyan first performed “My Way” at the Royal Club of Götebor. It was also in Götebor, at a concert in the Russian General Consulate, that Mnatsakanyan first met the head of the Maestro Ensemble, Leonid Levashkevich. This was in January 2008. Maestro performed “My Way” in an arrangement by Vladimir Gaponov.

Soon after that the trainer of Sweden’s top figure skater, Adrian Schultheiss, heard about the composition — and “My Way” played under the vaults of Götebor’s Scandinavium sports arena during the world figure skating championship in 2008. Few contemporary composers can say that their music has been performed for an audience of 400 million — but that is how many television viewers in Europe and North America watched the championship. In October and November 2009 Shulthais presented his skating program at the ISU Grand Prix in Moscow and Lake Placid. Next up are the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Mnatsakanyan’s compositions have been heard, of course, in Russia too: “My Way” was first performed by the Maestro Ensemble in March 2008 in the White Hall of the Peterhof Palace outside St. Petersburg. Shortly after that Mnatsakanyan was made a member of the ensemble. “My Way” has since entered the repertoire of a number of musical groups. In April 2008 in the Grand Hall of Stockholm’s Musical Academy “My Way” was performed by the chamber orchestra of the Kaliningrad Philharmonic. And on 10 October 2009 it was performed by the St. Petersburg Festival Orchestra at a Hit Parade Opera Music charity concert, part of an annual international drive to support hospices and palliative aid.

St. Petersburg, home of the Maestro Ensemble, is a sister city of Götebor so these words on the site of the Russian Foreign Ministry are doubly justified: “The concerts held in Sweden have created a strong foundation for the further development of our creative collaboration and have once again shown that music is the best diplomacy, a solid bridge connecting the shores of different cultures.”

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