Yevgeny Kutik Premieres Joseph Schwantner’s Violin Concerto with Detroit Symphony Orchestra
In Detroit Symphony Orchestra Debut Led by Leonard Slatkin
Friday, October 15, 2021 at 10:45am and 8pm (In-Person Only)
Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 8pm (In-Person and Free Online)
Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, known for his “dark-hued tone and razor-sharp technique” (The New York Times), gives the world premiere of Joseph Schwantner’s Violin Concerto in his Detroit Symphony Orchestra debut on October 15 and 16, 2021 at Orchestra Hall (3711 Woodward Ave.). Led by Leonard Slatkin, the orchestra’s program also includes Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and the world premiere of Samuel Adler’s Mirror Images. The October 16 performance will also be broadcast on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series. Viewers may tune in to watch live at www.dso.org. In-person tickets ($15 - $105) and Information:
Kutik and Schwantner have been longtime collaborators and friends. His Violin Concerto was adapted especially for Kutik from a preexisting work, The Poet’s Hour, composed in 2010 as a short soliloquy for violin and strings. The Poet’s Hour was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony to commemorate Gerard Schwarz’s retirement as the orchestra’s musical director.
Schwantner explains, “While composing the piece for Seattle, I had always planned to later expand and re-imagine the music as part of a larger scale work for violin and orchestra. When Gerard also performed the music with his All-Star Orchestra and violinist, Yevgeny Kutik, I was enthralled with Yevgeny’s masterful and nuanced performance and realized I had found ‘the’ soloist to premiere this new expanded work. Yevgeny Kutik brings a dramatic and an emotional arc to his impressive technique and captivating musical personality, and that vision remained in my mind’s ear all during the writing of the concerto.”
This performance (and recording, released on DVD in 2014) was Kutik’s first encounter with Schwantner’s music. Kutik says, “I was immediately blown away by the depth of color in his music and the special immediacy of thought and communication found throughout. For my Meditations on Family project, I was grateful that Joe agreed to write a short piece, his powerfully beautiful, Daydreams for violin, glass harmonica, and vocal quartet (2018). I'm truly honored and delighted to be giving the world premiere of his monumental new Violin Concerto. The music draws upon themes from The Poet's Hour and spending time with this piece has been like spending time with a dear old friend and catching up after years apart. And, as with a friend after years apart, the music now has with it so many more layers of perspective, power, depth, and emotion. One just wants to keep talking and listening, losing track of time.”
Schwantner’s Violin Concerto is the latest in a series of concertos including a Percussion Concerto for Christopher Lamb, principal percussionist of the New York Philharmonic; a Piano Concerto for Emanuel Ax; and one for guitarist, Sharon Isbin. Leonard Slatkin has conducted the premiere performances of many of his works with support that extends back to when he served as the Saint Louis Symphony’s first composer-in-residence.
About Yevgeny Kutik: Yevgeny Kutik has captivated audiences worldwide with an old-world sound that communicates a modern intellect. Praised for his technical precision and virtuosity, he is also lauded for his poetic and imaginative interpretations of standard works as well as rarely heard and newly composed repertoire.
A native of Minsk, Belarus, Yevgeny Kutik immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of five. As a follow-up to his 2014 album, Music from the Suitcase: A Collection of Russian Miniatures (Marquis Classics), in 2019 Kutik launched a new commissioning and recording project titled Meditations on Family via Marquis Classics. He commissioned eight composers to translate a personal family photo into a short musical miniature for violin and various ensemble, envisioning the project as a living archive of new works inspired by memories, home, and belonging. Each track was released digitally weekly, and the full EP CD, produced by four-time Grammy winner Jesse Lewis, was released on March 22, 2019. Strings Magazine featured Kutik and Meditations on Family as its cover story for the March/April issue. Kutik’s other recordings include his debut album, Sounds of Defiance (Marquis 2012), and Words Fail (Marquis 2016), both released to critical acclaim. His next album, The Death of Juliet and Other Tales, is slated for release in Fall 2021 on Marquis and includes music by Prokofiev and folk music that inspired Prokofiev.
In February 2021, Kutik launched Finding Home: Music from the Suitcase in Concert, a five-episode docu-recital series filmed at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA, based on Kutik’s 2014 album Music from the Suitcase (Marquis Classics). Each 30-40-minute episode features music performances, including works from the album, interwoven with Kutik’s personal narrative storytelling, as Kutik explores anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, his family’s months as “stateless” refugees, the amazement and challenges of starting a new home in the United States, his teachers and mentors, and lessons for the future. Episodes are available to stream at www.musicfromthesuitcase.com/watch-episodes
In 2019, Yevgeny Kutik made his debuts at the Kennedy Center, presented by Washington Performing Arts, and at the Ravinia Festival. Recent performances include appearances with the Dayton Philharmonic, La Crosse Symphony, El Paso Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, New Bedford Symphony, the Cape Town Philharmonic in South Africa, Morris Museum, Honest Brook Music Festival, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Upcoming performances in 2021-2022 include appearances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Huntsville Symphony, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, and Minnesota Sinfonia.
Passionate about his heritage and its influence on his artistry, Kutik is an advocate for the Jewish Federations of North America, the organization that assisted his family in coming to the United States, and regularly speaks and performs across the United States to both raise awareness and promote the assistance of refugees from around the world.
Yevgeny Kutik made his major orchestral debut in 2003 with Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops as the First Prize recipient of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. In 2006, he was awarded the Salon de Virtuosi Grant as well as the Tanglewood Music Center Jules Reiner Violin Prize.
Yevgeny Kutik began violin studies with his mother, Alla Zernitskaya, and went on to study with Zinaida Gilels, Shirley Givens, Roman Totenberg, and Donald Weilerstein. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory and currently resides in Boston. Kutik’s violin was crafted in Italy in 1915 by Stefano Scarampella. For more information, please visit www.yevgenykutik.com.
About Joseph Schwantner: Known for his dramatic and unique style and as a gifted orchestral colorist, Joseph Schwantner is one of the most prominent American composers. Holding degrees from the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University, Schwantner has previously served on the Juilliard, Eastman and Yale faculties and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Schwantner's compositional career has been marked by many awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his orchestral composition “Aftertones of Infinity” and several Grammy nominations. Among his many commissions is his Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, commissioned for the 150th anniversary season of the New York Philharmonic, is one of the most performed concert works of the past several decades. Christopher Lamb, soloist in the Naxos recording of Schwantner's music by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra received a 2012 Grammy Award for "Best Classical Instrumental Solo" with Schwantner's Percussion Concerto.
Schwantner's music is published by Schott Helicon, Edition-Peters, and recorded on a variety of labels including: Hyperion, BMG\RCA Red Label, Hyperion, Naxos, Innova, Koch International Classics, Boston Records, Albany Records, EMI/Virgin Records, New World Records, Klavier Records, Summit Records, Nonesuch, Mercury, CRI, GM Recordings, Delos, Laurel, Crest, DAD Records, Artworks Records, the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings and Sony Classical CD.
About the Detroit Symphony Orchestra: The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who concluded a decade-long tenure at the helm in 2018, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in eight metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.