Joy is what I hear and see surrounding the vivacious Vladimir Fridman who spreads this to students in his classical guitar classes at his home studio in Quince Orchard Park. This joy and love for music and his protégés was evident during their recital at the Quince Orchard Park Clubhouse on June 8. Students had an opportunity to showcase their best piece in front of family and friends, each one with their own style and posturing and tunes that brought an international flavor to the evening.
Many of the young students Fridman teaches daily, ranging in age from 10 to 17, recently participated in the Maryland State Guitar Competition, taking all first and second places in their age categories. He teaches about 25 students at any one time from children to adult.
Originally from Moscow, Fridman has lived and taught classical, jazz, Argentinian tango and Spanish guitar in Quince Orchard Park for nearly 30 years. He left behind a career in engineering to pursue his guitar passion. He studied at a music college, taught music and toured Russia, Europe, the Middle East and Japan for 10 years prior to coming to the U.S.
His love of teaching is equal to that of playing. “Teaching is very rewarding,” he said. “However, without playing it would not be the same for me. Then I cannot ask the same from my kids—I couldn’t demand from my students if I didn’t demand from myself. I like balance, I like teaching very much. Generally all of my kids are good and we have a great relationship. I’m like a music parent. They grow and get better, and I feel that I had a part in that.” Since 2016, he has developed a system of improvisation for classical guitarists who play with their fingers, which he offers in his advanced classes.
Fridman teaches seven days a week and plays three to four gigs a week, primarily with two groups—Music Pilgrim Trio, with Bob Abbott (upright bass) and Seth Kibel (clarinet and saxophone), and TransAtlantic Duo with Alexander Paperny on balalaika. The groups play private parties, restaurants and some festivals and tours. Klezmer music, a type of Jewish secular music that is commonly used for celebrations, features prominently in the international repertoire of both groups. Fridman sings in English, Russian and Yiddish. He recently returned from a European Tour with Paperny that included concerts in Germany and Holland.
Another passion is his association with Oasis, a national non-profit educational organization that strives to promote healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. The organization provides employment to many musicians, and Fridman has been associated with them for eight years. He presents six new performances and workshops annually at the center in Montgomery Mall, which is sponsored by Suburban Hospital. The most recent presentation was a journey through Jewish music. He correlates performances, comparing and contrasting similar forms of music from various countries. On June 30, he and Bob Abbott will lecture and perform a presentation entitled “Jazz Guitar from Banjo to Chet Atkins.”
Fridman enjoys many different types of music, particularly that from films. “Some of the most popular songs in America are from movies,” he said, “such as ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘When You Wish Upon a Star.’” Favorite musical styles are klezmer, classical, tango and Latin American, particularly Venezuelan, and performers Astor Piazzolla, Antônio Carlos Jobim and Antonio Lauro. He also does some composing on his own and has a number of videos on YouTube and his website that showcase his versatile talent. He is currently recording a new set of videos for YouTube.
“Music is an amazing art very similar to life,” Fridman mused. “It has the same features, and I explain this to my students. Music imitates life exactly. It is time. Life is time. Time stops … you’re dead. Music has its own timing and is alive because of that—if it stops, that’s the end!” Check out the videos of Vladimir Fridman, Music Pilgrim Trio and TransAtlantic Duo on YouTube, and for more information visit Fridman’s website at www.vfridman.com.