Recently, four aspiring violinists from Staten Island had the rare opportunity of working with the Russian American virtuoso violinist Yevgeny Kutik, who was at CSI to perform a program of classical music later that day.
The 24 year-old musician, who has rapidly gained international acclaim since his 2003 concerto debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra, gave the students inspiring criticism of their performances of challenging compositions from the violin repertoire, including movements from violin concertos by Felix Mendelssohn and Samuel Barber. Details about tone production and expression received microscopic attention from the violinist as he probed each student’s approach to the instrument and to the works they presented.
The students included two current CSI Music majors, Stephanie Geraci and Melissa Folzenlogan; Gerri Galardo, a Music alumnus who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at Hunter College; and Jefferson Dixon, a Tottenville High School student. The four participants were selected by their violin teacher, Olivier Fluchaire, who serves on the faculties of the College of Staten Island and Hunter College.
Weighing in on her experience in the class, Geraci said, “Yevgeny Kutik helped me further understand the basics of using the bow. He also gave me great ideas for how to improve my piece, like how to phrase certain passages, and how vibrato will bring out certain notes.”
For his part, Dixon noted that he appreciates the exceptional caliber of instruction that he received in this master class. “As a violinist, you spend hours in the practice room perfecting technical issues and repeating passages countless times. However, this is all in vain if you cannot translate a message to your audience. At CSI, we as musicians were given the opportunity to learn the art of performance, which is vital to any musician. Having the resources of an excellent, professional faculty supplemented with master classes by such maestros as Yevgeny Kutik truly teaches us more than any amount of practice alone could. Working with these individuals, you realize that playing the violin is much more than a skill, but an art. I’d like to personally thank Yevgeny Kutik for inspiring me, and I thank CSI and Prof. Olivier Fluchaire for allowing this opportunity.”
CSI Music Professor Dr. William Bauer offered his insights into the class from a faculty perspective. “The student performers amazed me in the way they each responded to Mr. Kutik’s insights. Despite differences in style and level of development, these young musicians made noticeable leaps in the approach each took to the music. Mr. Kutik challenged them all to grow and expand their vision of what is possible, both in terms of sound production and in terms of expression and interpretation.”
This unique educational experience was made possible by Professor Emeritus the late Dr. Michael Shugrue, who sponsored the evening concert, which was part of a series of classical events that he promoted in collaboration with the Division of College Advancement and External Affairs and the Center for the Arts.
Past master classes have exposed students to the artistry of the jazz singers Jean Rohe, Gretchen Parlato, and Marguerite Jeunemann as part of the Music program’s mission to broaden Music majors’ horizons by bringing them together with actively touring concert artists.