"Thomas invited us to this beautiful place," he said, referring to Thomas Chun-yu Chen, CICA Music Festival director. Zvonikov said Chen has invited excellent teachers from around the world and provided them and talented students with a stimulating environment in which to teach and learn.
"CICA allows students to have lessons and then practical application in solo and group performances. That's important," he said. He observed that he and the other teachers can offer from their experiences not only how to play but lessons about style, balance, sound and intonation because it's different playing in an ensemble than playing solo.
Zvonnikov began learning violin at age 5 and attended the Rimsky-Korsakov Specialized Music School beginning in 1994. He has performed both solo and in ensembles throughout Europe and in Japan and Argentina. He was invited to be part of the St. Petersburg Quartet two years ago in Russia.
Still working on his skills using the American version of English, he said a musician who wants to be a professional must practice four or five hours every day and he practices as much as eight to ten hours a day before competitions.
Zvonnikov commented that to teach music, "You can't press too much. If a student plays badly, he should understand it's bad, but you have to be a psychologist. You try to find a balance.
"When I see a student work hard who is not the most talented, I enjoy working with him or her. It is important to show the student how to do it, what sound you want, what character you want."
Zvonnikov said he enjoys Eureka Springs because it is like small hidden-away European towns he has seen in Finland or Italy. He also said he appreciates what Chen is doing here because it is very important to get people involved in culture. "Even if you don't become a professional musician, you can learn to connect through the music. You have a chance to open your mind."
Zvonnikov and his fellow St. Petersburg String Quartet members drove in from their own music camp being held in Connecticut to participate in CICA for a week and left on Tuesday to make the long drive back.
At lunch in the middle school cafeteria Monday, the Quartet were surprised with a gift from local caterer Jane Tucker -- a warm loaf of home-made rye bread and a hearty borscht, a beet-based traditional Russian dish with all the trimmings, to send them off with a taste of home.