Larisa Smirnova comprises the diverse talents of an accomplished musical artist: soloist, orchestral musician, accompanist, and inspiring pedagogue.
Born and educated in Russia, she received her Bachelor of Music in Lipezk Igumnov`s College of Music specialized in piano teaching, solo performance, chamber music, and accompaniment.
Her Master’s Degree in Piano and Harp Performance and Piano Pedagogy was earned from the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts where she studied piano with Professor Svetlana Karas and harp with Professor Margarita Maslennikova. Primary among her current mentors in performance and pedagogy is Brian Ganz of the Peabody Conservatory, Maryland, with whom she supports a longstanding professional connection.
As soloist and accompanist she has given numerous recitals in Russia (Moscow, Great Composers Performance Hall) and throughout Northern California (CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, Sonoma University, Mondavi Center, among others). She has also performed with the Auburn Symphony, Folsom Symphony, Camellia Symphony, and Camerata California.
Larisa is ASTA and MTAC member, she has 18 years of experience teaching children and adults both in Russia, at the Moscow School of Piano Skill, and in California, at the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. Many of her students have placed highly in the Tri-County Music Competition, Music in the Mountains Competition, and Grass Rotary Music Competition. Her methodology represents the essence absorbed from the best of the Russian School in the lineage of great pianists and teachers such as Blumenfeld, Neuhaus, Roismann, and Igumnov. The philosophy underlying this tradition is that correct piano technique should mean, before all, freedom to one’s creative imagination through liberation of the hands from any unnecessary tension. In view of this, Larisa tries to solve technical problems by focusing students’ attention on qualitative values of sound in a process which enables them to actively participate in their own learning.
“Joyless practicing can generate only joyless playing.”
The spirit of joy, curiosity and experimentation pervades her lessons with children and invigorates the demands for professional standards of excellence; her inspiring and lively approach supports students with their achievements. Her pupils are annual winners of
various competitions in Yuba, Sutter and Nevada Counties and very successful participants in numerous master classes, festivals and scholarship awards.
“Having been blessed with excellent teachers during the whole of my musical education, I believe that the pupil-teacher relation is extremely important for the student’s progress. Thus, I aim to inspire their development in a dynamic, fun way by having them learn and perform exciting compositions that challenge their
abilities, stimulating their growth and continued enjoyment of music. I strongly encourage my students to attend live concerts, to perform regularly, and to expand their musical experience through ensemble playing.”