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'Surprise! You'll soon be playing Prokofiev's piano sonata!'

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Illia Ovcharenko
Illia Ovcharenko

Some of us do well with surprises. Others, not so much.

However, in the performing arts, engagements might appear unexpectedly — and refusing them might lead to fewer invitations in the future.

So when pianist Illia Ovcharenko arrived at the Aspen Music Festival and School to suddenly find that he was assigned to perform a tough piano sonata by fellow Ukrainian Sergei Prokofiev, he agreed to take on the assignment.

Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher has taken notice of the young talent, even becoming Ovcharenko's friend on Facebook.

“He’s always attending the concerts, you know, commenting on some young artist and student,” Ovcharenko said.

Listen to the story to learn more about Ovcharenko’s studies in Ukraine, Israel and Aspen.

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Classical music reporter Chris Mohr has loved classical music since he was twelve. “And I owe it all to radio,” Chris explains. “I grew up in a farm town east of Cleveland. One day I turned on the local classical radio station. They were playing Vivaldi, and it was like the gates of heaven opened up to me!" Chris is also a composer, and is working on a 53-note-to-the-octave oratorio, "Melodies of the Shoreless Sea." This is his ninth summer working for Aspen Public Radio.