Violinist Yevgeny Kutik joins conductor Leonard Slatkin at Orchestra Hall
Yevgeny Kutik to present the premiere of Joseph Schwantner Violin Concerto in a program that will include that of Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5 and that of Samuel Adler Mirror images, another world first.
WWith the same intensity he has shown in front of renowned orchestras in famous venues, violinist Yevgeny Kutik has performed solo in front of small Jewish congregations in remote meeting rooms.
Coming from a family of classical musicians who left the Soviet Union to escape anti-Semitism, Kutik is motivated to bring valuable music to those of common religious background gathered in places where live entertainment is limited.
Kutik’s in-person appearances, traded for Zoom opportunities during the pandemic, begin to pick up as he takes the stage at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall and joins Leonard Slatkin as head of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Three performances, the last of which is digitally available, will take place from October 15 to 16.
Kutik will present the premiere of Joseph Schwantner Violin Concerto in a program that will include that of Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5 and that of Samuel Adler Mirror images, another world first.
âThis will be my first time working with Leonard Slatkin, so I’m very excited,â says Kutik, 36, and based near Boston. âI’ve played in Michigan quite a bit over the years and I’m going to Traverse City in a few months.
âI met Joseph Schwantner about 10 years ago, when he wrote a small work for violin and string orchestra called The hour of the poet. I recorded and filmed this with Gerard Schwarz and the All-Star Orchestra and got to know Joseph’s music.
âThe first movement of the concerto is based on The hour of the poet, but it is much more extensive. The second movement is completely new, and this piece is just huge.
Kutik, whose family arrived in America at the age of 5, first learned the violin from his mother, Alla Zernitskaya, a top award-winning instructor. He then received a BA from Boston University and an MA from the New England Conservatory of Music.
âFrom what I understand from my family, I’ve always wanted to play the violin,â says Kutik, also son of trumpeter Alex Kutik and grandson of the late trumpeter Isaac Kutik. âHaving grown up with musicians and hearing musicians all the time, I think it was a natural thing for me.
âI probably played my first gig when I was 8 or 9 years old. I made a big appearance with the Boston Pops Orchestra. [and conductor Keith Lockhart] when I was just out of high school, and it was like a start.
Kutik, who debuted in 2019 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, can list pre-pandemic engagements ranging from the El Paso Symphony to the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa.
Dedicated to the Jewish community
In addition to paying attention to memories of musical experiences described by his family, Kutik absorbed memories of anti-Semitic experiences also described. The full extent keeps him dedicated to the cultural enrichment of the musical enjoyment of members of the Jewish community while denouncing anti-Semitism.
“The treatment of my family as Jews and what they had to face [before coming to America] was heinous and changed the whole scope of their lives, âsays the violinist, who has heard of employment quotas and thug violence affecting those close to him.
âI think it’s my job to speak up and do what I can to educate all people to be careful and to be really, really careful because history repeats itself a lot. Anti-Semitism has never disappeared, and it has grown in recent years.
Before the limits of the pandemic, Kutik worked directly with the Jewish federations of North America. He spoke in forums and with many communities across the country.
âI visited various Jewish federations [groups] to help them with their fundraising and talk about my family’s experiences, âhe explains. âPeople can see where their efforts and their money have gone and what their efforts and their money can do now to help support Jews and non-Jews who need help. “
Although Kutik did not marry a musician, he gained a stepfather who is a musician. While his wife, Rachel, has a yoga studio, his stepfather, Edwin Barker, plays double bass with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
A recent recording project by Kutik has focused its attention on the valued cultural aspects of its heritage. The upcoming album, The death of Juliet and other tales, will soon be released on Marquis Classics, the label that regularly represents his talents.
“It’s an album of all [Sergei]Prokofiev and tells how he got his inspiration from Russian folk tunes, âKutik explains. âThe very folk tunes that I grew up listening to were probably the ones that he grew up listening to.
âI have arranged a few for violin and two wonderful composers have done the other arrangements. The album itself is a kind of story interweaving these Russian folk tunes and the music of Prokofiev.
In rare private moments away from music, Kutik enjoys hiking, reading, and experimenting with coffee, often looking for specialist equipment that can process creative infusions to savor.
“I read The history of the six-glass world â, Kutik reveals. âIt traces how the origins of [beverages] shaped history as we know it. I’m fascinated by it, but I just drink a cup or two of coffee [at a time]. It’s good enough for me.
Yevgeny Kutik will perform at 10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, October 15 (in person only) and at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 16 (in person and online for free) at Orchestra Hall in Detroit. $ 15 to $ 105. (313) 576-5111, dso.org.