Konstantin Ishkhanov is an Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist. Founder and president of the European Foundation of Support of Culture (EUFSC), Ishkhanov is the first and only foreigner recipient of Malta’s highest cultural award.
In 2007 Ishkhanov and his family moved to Malta. In February 2015,
Konstantin Ishkhanov founded the European Foundation for Support of Culture (EUFSC), which is a non-profit organization with a key objective to promote talented musicians and artists and encourage the preservation of musical & cultural heritage.
On April 16, 2019, EUFSC President Konstantin Ishkhanov Received Malta’s Highest National Award in Art for his huge contribution and support for art and cultural projects in the field of arts in the nomination of “Unique Contribution to the Culture of Malta.
Please tell us about your childhood and family, where do you come from?
I was born into an Armenian family in Baku and was lucky enough to grow up in a very musical household. My mother played classical piano every day and my father counted amongst his friends a lot of musicians. This definitely contributed to my love of music and has shaped my activities throughout my life.
When and how did you realize that music and culture are more than just a hobby for you?
I’ve always enjoyed the music immensely and of course, it was a part of my life from a young age as just mentioned. I think I realized it was more than just a hobby, more than a side project if you will when I started organizing small classical music concerts. I was genuinely surprised and touched by the enjoyment the audience derived from the performances and I was very grateful to have contributed to that experience.
What in your life inspired you to establish the EUFSC?
It was the events just discussed in fact. From those initial beginnings, things built quite naturally, and very soon I was receiving calls and emails quite frequently with queries as to when the next events would be taking place. That was when I realised I could contribute in an even more significant way, prompting me to found the EUFSC. Thereafter we launched various projects across Europe, which soon after expanded into many other countries in various continents. Today I am proud to say that we hold events in around twenty-seven countries around the world.
What is the primary mission of EUFSC? What do you plan to accomplish thanks to this NGO?
Our primary mission is to make our shared cultural heritage more accessible whilst encouraging and making available broad public access to the arts. With this aim in mind, every year we hold numerous festivals, competitions, exhibitions, conferences, presentations, master-classes, workshops, round-tables, concerts, and other events seeking to support and promote culture, to inspire interest in various types of modern art, and to support young talented musicians and gifted children.
I’m sure just like any other successful entrepreneur, you’ve had your ups and downs. How do you manage to overcome these difficulties and keep your focus?
To be honest I can’t allow myself to lose my focus so I’m very self-disciplined in this regard. The EUFSC is involved with a lot of projects, all of which require my attention. Regarding any past setbacks, I think these are the experiences that most test us, and I’ve been happy to face these challenges every time.
One of the major events organized by EUFSC is InClassica International Music Festival in Malta. Tell us some something about the backstage process, how hard is it to organize an event of such massive importance
It’s a huge undertaking, to say the least! After all, not only will this be the first large-scale event to take place in 2021, it will of course be the largest classical music event to have taken place in Malta and certainly will be the largest event the EUFSC has organised to date. We have eight orchestras, thirty-three soloists, and eight conductors traveling to Malta to perform, which aside from the obvious logistical challenges requires an enormous amount of work promoting the event and making sure it runs as smoothly as possible. Nonetheless, I’m extremely proud of the Foundation and have every confidence it will rise to the challenge as it has done on every occasion in the past.
How did COVID 19 affect the plans for EUFSC?
Like the vast majority of cultural institutions around the world, the pandemic and subsequent containment measures impacted us severely. We, unfortunately, had to cancel a significant number of events and were forced to reconsider our plans for events still to happen, for example, by guaranteeing that we put measures in place to avoid future setbacks should the pandemic measures continue. I’m pleased to report that the steps we took worked, and in fact, we still managed to hold some events towards the end of this year, including piano competitions in Berlin, Rome, and London as part of our ‘14 Ways to Malta’ International Piano Competition, the final stage of which will be held at InClassica next year. All of these were held in strict compliance with safety regulations of course, and we have learned a lot from these experiences, allowing us to better understand alternative ways of holding events when facing these challenges and reaffirming our belief in our ability to realise successful events, even in such trying times.
What motivates you? What is your primary source of motivation?
My belief in the power of art and culture to positively impact society and to provide meaningful benefits to the aspirations of the younger generation.
Is there anyone in your life that you look up to, a role model?
I know it may sound unconventional to say, but I think it best to avoid role models as they risk distracting you from your own path and who you really are. (laughs)
Tell us about your plan or the future, is there a major milestone you’d like to share?
As mentioned previously our next major milestone is the InClassica Festival taking place from April to May 2021. This really will be the most ambitious event in the Foundation’s history so far, and I’m truly excited to see the outcome of all our hard work. I would also like to highlight another two other events taking place at the same time in Malta: The Classic Piano International Piano Competition, and the Malta Classical Music Academy, both fantastic new initiatives of the EUFSC that will further support and promote the next generation of classical musicians.
Is there anything you’d like to add, maybe a final note for our readers?
Just that no matter what you would like to achieve, with hard work and tenacity it is possible to achieve anything.