In 2014, I released an album called, Music from the Suitcase, on which I explored a collection of works my family brought over to the United States when we immigrated from the USSR in 1990. The album was encapsulated in features from The New York Times and NPR's All Things Considered. Creating Suitcase immeasurably helped shape me as an artist and allowed me to explore my family's story and cultural history.
I am continuing down this path of exploration with a new project, Meditations on Family. When my immediate family left the USSR, a lot of our relatives stayed behind. Laws and regulations at the time meant we had no idea where in the US we’d end up, or if we'd ever be reunited with the rest of our family. As we disappeared behind the security gate at the Minsk airport in 1989, my grandparents didn't think they'd see us again. Amazingly, over two years later, my paternal grandparents were able to move to the US. Someone snapped a picture of our family's first meeting at the airport in Albany. I recently ran across this photo and it captivated me. The expressions, especially on my grandfather's face, are pure magic. Being a musician, this photo immediately evoked music in my mind.
Family plays such a profound, complex influence on who we all grow up to be. Nostalgia, joy, frustration, togetherness, disconnection... these powerful emotions form family. With this project I hope to zoom in closer on some of these experiences through both music and visual mediums. I'm asking a number of leading, diverse voices in composition today to choose their own family photo to translate into a short musical miniature for violin and various ensemble. Some of those involved include Joseph Schwantner, Andreia Pinto Correia, Gity Razaz, Timo Andres, Chris Cerrone, Kinan Azmeh, Gregory Vajda, and Paola Prestini.
My plan is to record these works in the summer, and premiere them one at a time in the fall of 2018, through an online platform. The platform will feature a recorded performance of the musical commission, an interview with each composer, the photo itself, and a place for listeners to interact with the music and share their own experiences. Over time, I hope to create a living archive devoted to musical meditations on family, by adding on new commissions from today's most vibrant composers and artists exploring the subject.
This project is no small undertaking, and I hope you will consider joining me to make it become a reality. In addition to the costs of each commission, each work will require special care to bring to life. We will need an engineer, producer, extra musicians, recording spaces, and recording equipment. As these are new works (the ink is still drying!), they will require ample rehearsal time with other collaborators. Because this is not a traditional physical CD, we will also need to build a website and system for effectively getting the music out to as many people as quickly and easily as possible. Your support would make this all possible.
I made my first recording with the help of Kickstarter and 88 wonderful backers in 2011. I am confident in this project and in this process, and can't wait to share these stories with you.
Risks and challenges
I've worked hard for over a year to prepare for this new project, and there are still many challenges ahead. The nature of new composition means my artistic collaborators and I will have to study and prepare for the recordings very quickly, much more so than if the repertoire were established and known. Additionally, figuring out a way to get the music out to listeners, effectively and simply, without the traditional route of a physical CD will require added ingenuity, time, and work.
I have been been directly involved with conceptualizing, producing, and executing three solo albums so far (with the help of some very talented colleagues) so I feel that I am prepared to tackle this new, unique project. I have learned that projects like this require "in the moment" creativity and flexibility, external support, and at times a willingness to accept something other than what one originally envisions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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