Yevgeny Kutik Launches Commissioning and Recording Project 'Meditations on Family'

Yevgeny Kutik Launches Commissioning and Recording Project 'Meditations on Family'

Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his "dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique" (The New York Times), has launched a new commissioning and recording project titled Meditations on Family via Marquis Classics. 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, home, and belonging. Each track has been released digitally weekly, and the full EP CD, produced by four-time Grammy winner Jesse Lewis, will be released on March 22, 2019. Kutik will make his Kennedy Center debut presented by Washington Performing Arts on April 23, performing selections from Meditations on Family and his previous project, Music from the Suitcase.

Strings Magazine featured Kutik as its cover story for the March/April issue, reporting, "True to Kutik's vision, each miniature is a window into the composer's emotional life. 'I told the composers that I was looking for miniatures, no more than two to three minutes in length,' he says. 'I like this idea that when you are flipping through a family photo album, you don't spend ten minutes on each photo. Rather, you look at each one and there's a rush of emotion and then you go on to the next photo. I wanted to recreate that. So I kept coming back to this idea of little meditations. You sit down for two or three minutes and meditate on an idea and then you go on with your day. I really wanted to capture that in this project somehow.'"

Kutik has chronicled each piece and the composers' photos and stories online at www.meditationsonfamily.com.

Strings also premiered Kutik's 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 premiered Kutik's recording of Gity Razaz's Cadenza for the Once Young, dedicated to the composer's grandparents, and their lasting love.

Meditations on Family includes Flight to Limbo by Christopher Cerrone (January 18), Cadenza for the Once Young byGity 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); full EP on CD (March 22).

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."

January 18: Flight to Limbo by Christopher Cerrone for solo violin

Inspired by a photo of the composer's father as a small child, suffering from pneumonia.

January 25: Gity Razaz's Cadenza for the Once Young for solo violin

Dedicated to the composer's grandparents, and their lasting love.

February 1: Litania by Andreia Pinto Correia for violin and piano, with David Kaplan

A response to a photo taken by the composer when visiting her family on the island of Madeira in the mid-1990s.

February 8: Kinan Azmeh's Rima for violin and clarinet, with Ryan Yure

Inspired by a photo of the composer with his sister on a family trip to Bulgaria in 1979.

February 15: Gregory Vajda's How to Draw a Tree for violin and bass, with Edwin Barker

A piece based on a photo of the annual Vajda family meeting near the famous Lake Balaton in Hungary.

February 22: Paola Prestini's Suitcased Dreams for violin and piano, with David Kaplan

A meditation on a childhood photo of the composer and her mother.

March 1: See Above by Timo Andres for violin and bass, with Edwin Barker

A musical representation of the first photo taken by the composer, of his family.

March 8: Joseph Schwanter's Daydreams for violin and four singers, with tenors Michael Barrett and

Corey Hart; and sopranos Sarah Moyer and Carey Shunskis

Inspired by a photo of the composer's maternal grandparents and his mother as a baby, from 1924.

March 22: Full EP on CD



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