Oleg Akkuratov

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The blind Russian pianist Oleg Akkuratov has achieved notable success in both classical music and jazz, despite large obstacles.
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Blind since birth, the Russian pianist Oleg Akkuratov has achieved notable success in both the classical and jazz fields, despite great obstacles. Akkuratov was born in the southern Russian city of Yeyski, in the Krasnodar region on the Azov Sea. He suffers from a condition called congenital amaurosis, which left him completely blind at birth. But when he was four, his family noticed that he could hear a melody and immediately reproduce it on the piano. They took him to a local music school, where he was immediately admitted after teachers heard him play. At six, he was moved to a boarding school for blind children in the nearby city of Armavir, which offered courses in Braille music notation. Akkuratov studied pop and jazz at the Moscow State College of Music, graduating in 2008. He took more pop and jazz courses at the Moscow University of Culture of the arts, hoping to go on to the prestigious Moscow Conservatory for classical music studies. The school, however, was not accessible for students with disabilities, and he was forced to move to the Rostov State Conservatory. He graduated from that school in 2015 and promptly joined its faculty. By that time, Akkuratov had gained some renown both in Russia and abroad. He was featured in the 2009 Russian film Motley Twilight and performed in a concert with opera singer Montserrat Caballé and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Akkuratov also sings and has similar skills of memory when singing to those he exhibits at the keyboard. He learned English and German by listening to songs, and he participated in a UNESCO joint choral concert held at the Pope's residence in Vatican City. In Russia, Akkuratov performed at the opening of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi. He has toured with the Igor Butman Quartet and Moscow Jazz Orchestra jazz ensembles, and he placed second -- as a vocalist -- at the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in Newark, New Jersey, in 2018. He was the first Russian contestant in the competition. In 2019, Akkuratov released his classical album debut on Russia's venerable Melodiya label, performing piano sonatas by Beethoven.