Russian-American Violinist Yevgeny Kutik Launches 'Meditations on Family'

By: Jan. 18, 2019
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Russian-American Violinist Yevgeny Kutik Launches 'Meditations on Family'

Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his "dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique" (The New York Times), launches a new commissioning and recording project titled Meditations on Family today with the release of Christopher Cerrone's Flight to Limbo, available via Marquis Classics from all major streaming services. Kutik has commissioned eight composers to translate a personal family photo into a short musical miniature for violin and various ensemble. He envisions the project as a living archive of new works inspired by memories and tradition. One new piece will come out each Friday, and the full EP will be released on March 8, 2019. The recordings were produced by four-time Grammy winner Jesse Lewis.

This week, Strings Magazine is premiering the video for Joseph Schwanter's Daydreams for violin, four singers, and glass harmonica, inspired by a photo of the composer's maternal grandparents and his mother as a baby, and recorded with tenors Michael Barrett and Corey Hart, and sopranos Sarah Moyer and Carey Shunskis. I Care If You Listen is premiering Kutik's recording of Gity Razaz's Cadenza for the Once Young, dedicated to the composer's grandparents, and their lasting love.

In addition, Kutik has chronicled each piece and the composers' stories online at www.meditationsonfamily.com. As each work is released, streaming links from Apple Music and Spotify will be posted on the site.

Meditations on Family includes Flight to Limbo by Christopher Cerrone (January 18), Cadenza for the Once Young by Gity Razaz (January 25), Litania by Andreia Pinto Correia(February 1), Rima by Kinan Azmeh (February 8), How to Draw a Tree by Gregory Vajda (February 15), Suitcased Dreams by Paola Prestini (February 22), See Above by Timo Andres(March 1), and Daydreams by Joseph Schwanter (March 8). Please note new release order, which has changed since it was previously announced.

Yevgeny Kutik was moved to embark on this project by his own relationship to family and culture. In 2014, he released Music from the Suitcase, an album exploring the sheet music that his family brought with them on their journey to the U.S. after emigrating from the U.S.S.R. in 1989. He says, "In those scores were extraordinary lessons about where I come from, my family, and our traditions."

At his family's gathering for Thanksgiving 2017, Kutik's grandmother recounted the experience of saying goodbye at the Minsk airport, as Kutik and his parents set off for the U.S. Kutik says, "During the mass Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, leaving the U.S.S.R. meant going into the unknown with few resources and belongings. As Baba Luba recalled, when she saw me, a boy of just four, walk past the airport security gate, she thought to herself, 'I will never see him again.' Luckily, the story has a happy ending. Just three years later, we welcomed my grandfather and grandmother at the Albany International Airport as they arrived to join us. As Baba Luba told her story, she brought out a photo that was taken at the airport during the first several minutes of their arrival. The camera captured the priceless expressions of my family members, especially that of my grandfather Isaac and Baba Luba, exhausted from their journey and filled with the overwhelming emotion of seeing their family again."

It was this photo that spurred Kutik to commission Meditations on Family. "Seeing this photo reignited a desire of mine to put music to family memories and stories," he said. "I asked composers I admire to choose their own family photo, a photo that conjures up memories of joy, sadness, unity, and longing, and to translate that photo into a short work for violin. What resulted are eight musical meditations, written by eight different voices, each inspired by their own family story and tradition."



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