x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Keys to an evening of classic entertainment

The Life: Viktoriya Solyana is a pianist at Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi, and is awaiting her doctoral degree from Ukraine. She talks about a day in her life.

Viktoriya Solyana plays a variety of music at Royal Meridian Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Viktoriya Solyana plays a variety of music at Royal Meridian Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Viktoriya Solyana plays the piano at Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi every evening. Here, the 30-year-old Ukrainian, who will shortly graduate with a doctoral degree in music theory from the National Music Academy in Kiev, talks about her typical day.



I have been trying to get up early and go to the beach, and enjoy living in the resort country. I stay there until 10am and then meet my sister, a sports instructor, for brunch or lunch. I like going to Abu Dhabi Mall and have salmon rolls with cheese and spinach, fresh apple juice and pastry for breakfast.



I have lunch. I like to have risotto, cappuccino and orange juice. During my first year, I used to wake up just before lunch. Sometimes I shop for music books.



I take yoga classes for an hour or two at Abu Dhabi Country Club, and have a quick rest later. If I have time I go to the steam room.



My duty starts around this time and goes on until 11pm with breaks. I play four sessions of 45 minutes. Playing piano is not very tiring for me; we used to practice six hours a day back home.

I play a lot of pop music, Elton John, Sting and soundtracks of old musicals; it depends on the audience. When I come in I see what people are doing. If people are sitting close to the piano and are having business meetings, I play Yanni, Yiruma, country or any soothing music. I play classics if I am in a classic mood. Chopin is popular here. Every Friday we have a brunch and I play dance music such as waltz, tango or Katyusha, a Russian song.



I am still playing. If there is too much talking or no feedback from the audience, I can't concentrate. But you have to remember that you are on stage. When people talk, it's normal because the concert is background music. When I first started playing piano in a hotel in Bahrain, I was struggling as I am used to silence when on stage.

This is different; you have to be ready for all kinds of talking. Once, a group of businessmen opened their laptop and started playing their own music right in front of me. I stopped playing, looked at them, and said 'Can you make it louder, I can't hear it'? They apologised. You have to learn with the profession how to be diplomatic, especially when you are playing Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers where you can't miss a note. Sometimes people come over and extend their hand [to shake mine] while I am playing. I don't yet know how to react to that.



For dinner I go out with friends but I am trying not to go out every day as it is difficult to wake up. Camembert cheese is my favourite [dinner] along with salads with carrots, cucumbers or just rice.



I fall asleep with the laptop on my lap after emailing and chatting online to friends in the United States.