In February 2021 the RNO launched a project aimed at discovering and supporting young (10-18 years old) musicians from all across the country. It was developed as a part of the RNO's long-standing Magic of Music program, in order to offer musically-gifted children new opportunities.
The project included three competition rounds.
First, participants from all over the country submitted short video recordings to a jury comprised of RNO soloists. More than 300 applications were received from across Russia, the former Soviet states, and even Japan.
This is the first competition in Russia of its type in which orchestral musicians acted as the jury. There were two reasons the RNO took this approach: first, orchestral musicians know better than anyone the sorts of skills a soloist should have when playing with an orchestra; second, the orchestral musicians could show participants that being a part of an ensemble is no less attractive (or difficult) a mission or goal than being a soloist.
In late March, the jury announced the 30 semifinalists, who they were invited to Moscow for workshops with some rather famous tutors: the pianists Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Gindin, Moscow Conservatory Professor Natalia Trull, as well as the concertmasters and soloists of the Russian National Orchestra: Vlad Lavrik (trumpet), Maxim Rubtsov (flute), Sergei Yeletsky (clarinet), Olga Tomilova (oboe), Andrey Shamidanov (bassoon), Svetlana Paramonova (harp), and others.
A 10-days of workshops (at least three days with each child) were in preparation for the final stage of the competition – performances to be ranked by the jury.
On June 20, 2021, the RNO announced the contest winners: Eva Gevorgyan, piano, took First Prize, and Second and Third Prizes were shared by violinists Mikhail Usov and Sofia Yakovenko.
The laureates won the opportunity to perform with the Russian National Orchestra in 2021.
The first concert featured Sofia Yakovenko as soloist, and took place in Chelyabinsk on October 9, during the RNO regional tour throughout Russia.
The second concert, featuring Mikhail Isov playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, was held in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on December 2, 2021.
The concerts were a huge success and received wide coverage in Russian media.