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Darkness illuminated Album Project
£1,890 raised
38% of £5k goal
23 contributors
2 Years running

About the project

Thank you for visiting this campaign! I am a classical pianist and it gives me great joy to share my work with you. I am very happy and excited to be releasing my first album. It is going to feature a unique programme combining the works of two Russian composers: the eccentric genius - Alexander Scriabin and the unknown genius - Alexei Stanchinsky. Some compositions on this album are well known masterpieces, and some, I believe, have never been released on CD before. I hope this recording will help listeners enjoy, discover and rediscover both Stanchinsky and Scriabin.


About me

My name is Nafis Umerkulova, I was born and raised in Uzbekistan. I started playing the piano at the age of 5, inspired by my mother who is a pianist and a piano teacher. Soon after I started playing, I knew that was what I wanted to do in life.
I came to the UK to study at the Purcell School and later continued my studies at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Today I live and work in London and I love its creative, cultural atmosphere. In addition to my performance career, I also enjoy teaching and am currently a member of teaching staff at the Purcell School and at the London Russian Music Academy.


Darkness illuminated

Many people will be familiar with Scriabin’s music, but I imagine that very few would have heard about Stanchinsky and his works. I came across this composer a number of years ago and immediately fell in love with his music; it captivated me, and I soon knew that I wanted to perform and to record it. Scriabin, and particularly his works from the middle period, have been my long-lived passion, so it felt only natural to put both composers together on this album.
All the compositions from “Darkness illuminated” were written within a span of 17 years. My intention is to show how the styles of both composers evolved during this period of time. In Scriabin’s Preludes op 16, we can still hear his fascination with Chopin, and Scriabin’s influence is very evident in the earlier works of Stanchinsky.


Who was Stanchinsky and why is his music unknown?

Stanchinsky was born in 1888, and he was a contemporary of Rachmaninov and Scriabin. He studied at the Moscow Conservatoire and demonstrated an extraordinary talent as a young composer. Many of his early works already reveal a unique approach to musical structure and harmony. Stanchinsky was held in high esteem by his colleagues, including Scriabin, who would normally not say anything good about anyone except himself. Unfortunately, Stanchinsky died at the age of 26, for reasons that remain unknown. A few years before that, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and destroyed a number of his works in the fits of the illness. Shortly after Stanchinsky died, the Russian revolution broke out and the Soviet regime imposed strict censorship on all major forms of art. Many styles and works from the pre-soviet era were discredited and banned. These circumstances contributed to Stanchinsky remaining virtually unknown to us today.


What has already been done:

All audio materials for the album have been recorded and edited. It has been such a joy working with the amazing sound engineer Veronika Tabakova.

I am very grateful to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and especially to John Thwaites and Simon Hall for their assistance with the recording studio and the piano.

I am delighted to have an agreement with the Ulysses Arts Label to release “Darkness illuminated”, which is planned for September 2019.

Photography, design and artwork will be done by Viktor Erik Emanuel and we are currently working on the CD cover and the booklet.

Video - behind the scenes of "Darkness illuminated" which you can find at the top of this campaign was filmed by Charlie Round Turner.

And finally, I am so thankful to Patrick Matthiesen and the Matthiesen Foundation who agreed to support my CD launch concert:


What I am crowdfunding for and where your support will go:

-       CD/booklet design and artwork

-       Label fee + digital release
-       CD Manufacturing

-       PR and Marketing

-       Remaining expenses for the launch concert

The full cost of the project comes up to £5000


Why this project is important, and what your contribution means:

Today we live in a time of openness to change and introspection on a human and historical level. Through Darkness illuminated, I wish to shed light on Stanchinsky and I would like to help restore his music to its rightful place in the performance repertoire.
Up to this point in my project, I have been able to cover all relevant costs myself, but in order to continue successfully sharing my work, I am in need of additional funding. 

Your support will make it possible for me to release the album and to hold the launch concert. While this campaign is up and running, I am able to access your donations immediately. This gives me the opportunity to proceed with every aspect of my project, that I listed above, and to make sure everything is ready for the release date. 

I am deeply grateful for ANY support and involvement. It would also be a wonderful help if you could spread the word, and share this with anyone you think would be interested.

If you would like to receive a reward for your donation, please let me know your address. You can also choose to contribute without a reward and remain anonymous. If you are unable to contribute financially on this occasion, but would like to help in any other way, I would love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!


See all activity23


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  • 3 claimed
  • 37 remaining
I will, with your permission, add your name to the list of my supporters on social media, and you will receive a post card with a personal “thank you” message. You can choose an image for your postcard from the list of beautiful photographs by Jesús Roncero
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  • 5 claimed
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You will receive a signed copy of the CD
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You will receive 2 signed copies of the CD
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  • 2 claimed
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You will receive a free ticket to the launch concert and a complimentary CD, which I can sign with a personal message at the concert
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Song without words
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You will receive a free ticket to the launch concert and 2 complimentary CDs, which I can sign with a personal message at the concert
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  • 1 claimed
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You or a person you nominate, will receive a free piano lesson with me, 2 complimentary CDs with a personal message and a free ticket to the launch concert (Lesson: locations outside London Zone 4 by arrangement)
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  • 0 claimed
  • 7 remaining
You will receive a piano masterclass with me at your chosen venue (ideal choice for music schools) and 2 signed CDs. (Masterclass: organisational costs not included)
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Your name and support will be acknowledged in the CD booklet. You will receive a complimentary ticket to the launch concert and 2 complimentary CDs with a personal message
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Poem of Ecstasy
Your name and support will be acknowledged in the CD booklet, your support will also be publicly announced during the launch concert. You will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the launch concert and 2 complimentary CDs with a personal message
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Your name and support will be acknowledged in the CD booklet. You will receive 2 VIP tickets to the launch concert, where your support will be publicly announced. You will also receive 2 complimentary CDs with a personal message and an invitation to the post-concert reception.
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  • 0 claimed
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I will give a lecture recital at your home or at your chosen venue (organisational expenses not included).
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