Arkady Gotesman – dr, perc, author
2020 has been declared the year of the Gaon of Vilna and Lithuanian Jewish history. The programme Prayer developed by the composer and percussionist Arkady Gotesman and a team of performers (author of the idea and composer – Arkady Gotesman) is dedicated to this topic.
The source of inspiration for the Prayer was the book Ayil Meshulash (Triangle) by Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, known as the Gaon of Vilna. In his book, published in 1833, the greatest sage of the 18th century, world-famous commentator of the Torah and the Talmud not only expounds on general geometry, but also explains the world surrounding us.
In tandem with Shmuel Yatom, the cantor of the Vilnius Choral Synagogue, the musicians will present an original interpretation of Gaon’s legacy and introduce us to his unique thinking.
The musical basis of the project comprises Jewish and Lithuanian folklore.
Worldwide authority of the Gaon of Vilna Elijah ben Solomon Zalman is so great, that one could scarcely find a religious and practicing Jew who would not know “the Gaon of Vilna”, “Elijah Gaon” or Ha-GRA (an acronym of Ha Gaon Rabbi Elijahu).
The intellect and erudition of this thinker made Vilnius famous all over the world as a spiritual centre of Jews. Gaon’s creative legacy, consisting of more than 70 treatises on a wide variety of topics – commentaries on the Scripture, the Talmud, mystic texts of Kabbalah, Hebrew grammar, and treatises on geometry, astronomy, medicine and other sciences – is still of great interest to Jewish religious authorities and scholars today.
Elijah ben Solomon Zalman was born in 1720 in Brest Litovsk in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (current Brest in Belarus). His extraordinary talents were revealed already in his childhood. At only six, Elijah delivered a homily at the Great Synagogue in Vilnius, taking aback everyone with his knowledge of rabbinical literature. He began his independent study of the Scripture and the Talmud at a very young age.
The Gaon of Vilna was the most prominent religious authority of the Jews, who determined the religious and cultural idiosyncrasy of the Lithuanian Jewish community. The Jews of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania kept old religious traditions. There were many famous religious schools, yeshivots, in Lithuania, where many famous rabbis, cantors, and experts of Talmud were educated. They influenced the unique worldview and mentality, because of which Lithuanian Jews started to be called Litvaks.
Among the most famous Litvaks are artists Isaac Levitan, Chaim Soutin, Samuel Bak, Arbit Blat and Marc Chagall, sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, writers Romain Gary and Icchokas Meras, violinist Jascha Heifetz, philosopher Emmanuel Levin. This list could go on.
Arkady Gotesman, one of the most resourceful and versatile Lithuanian percussionists and composers, is also enjoying repute as a poet, theatre director, pedagogue, producer, Spiritus Movens of Vilnius Klezmer Orchestra and artistic director of two music festivals.
He composes, records and performs music for theatre, writes scenarios for musical performances and installations, organises projects with dancers, writers, actors and visual artists, appears in personal shows.
Gotesman has a gift to discover new venues for jazz in periphery and enrich his projects with the participation of the world’s jazz luminaries. He has collaborated with exponents of various trends including Roland Dahinden, Vladimir Volkov, Vyacheslav Gaivoronsky, Arkady Shilkloper, Julian Joseph, John Zorn, Jack Siron, Frank London, Anthony Coleman, Charles Gayle, Tim Daisy, Joey Baron, Barry Guy, Dominic Duval, Dave Douglas, Albert Beger, Martin Küchen, Mark Tokar, Warren Smith, Andrew Lamb.
In Lithuania the percussionist has regularly been working with Vyacheslav Ganelin, Petras Vyšniauskas, Vladimir Tarasov, Dmitrij Golovanov and Jan Maksimovich.
Gotesman is an enthusiast of silent movies, as a taper with various international musicians he promulgates the genre in Lithuania.
The percussionist plays not only jazz, but also contemporary academic music. He has performed world premieres of works by Osvaldas Balakauskas, Anatolijus Šenderovas, Zita Bružaitė and Šarūnas Nakas among others. Moreover, he is the organiser of the Klezmer Music Festival in Vilnius, the artistic director of Šeduva Percussion Festival and the founder of Theatrum solius quadri.
In 2018, Gotesman was honoured with Birštonas Jazz international festival Grand Prix, and in 2015 – was presented with Vilnius Jazz Award for contributions to Lithuanian jazz.
Petras Vyšniauskas is one of the founders of the professional saxophone school in Lithuania. He is the most titled jazz musician in Lithuania.
The musician’s trophies include the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania Art Prize, the 5th Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, the Word Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Gold Medal, the Baltic Assembly Art Prize and many other awards.
Vyšniauskas is a musician of exceptional versatility. His imagination is inexhaustible: the saxophonist has his say in the most diverse jazz styles and music genres. He is at home not only in jazz, but also academic music – from baroque compositions to contemporary opuses dedicated to him; in addition, he has composed music for many theatre productions and feature films. His discography amounts to over 60 albums.
The musician has collaborated with a great number of celebrated jazz, classical and folk musicians including Prague Philharmonic and New York St Luke symphony orchestras, Paris Radio and New York Metropolitan Opera choirs, folk singer Veronika Povilionienė and birbynė player Antanas Smolskus, jazz guitarist Fred Frith, pianists Bob Stenson and Karl Berger, saxophonists Steve Lacy and Charlie Mariano, double bassists Kent Carter and Vladimir Volkov, trumpeters Tomasz Stańko and Herb Robertson, drummers Han Bennink and Klaus Kugel.
According to Vyšniauskas, jazz is, first of all, the way to communicate: the realm where one makes the most striking discoveries, thus the saxophonist never puts his music down on paper. “My music is in my head”, said the saxophonist.
With various collectives Vyšniauskas appeared in international festivals in the USA, the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Finland, Poland, Russia and other countries. He took part in music programs of five EXPOs: Hanover (Germany), Aichi (Japan), Zaragoza (Spain), Shanghai (China) and Yeosu (South Korea).
Vyšniauskas’ disciples – Jan Maksimovich, Liutauras Janušaitis, Kęstutis Vaiginis, Remigijus Rančys, Dovydas Stalmokas, Simonas Šipavičius and others – represent today’s elite of younger jazz generation.
His native town of Plungė holds the National Petras Vyšniauskas Saxophone Festival.
Kazimieras Jušinskas is one of the most creative saxophonists of the younger generation. He became infected with jazz at the Vilnius Conservatoire. He furthered his education at the Jazz Department and Contemporary Music Department in the LAMT.
The saxophonist takes active part in Lithuanian jazz festivals with groups Brave Noises and Džiazlaif (has won Grand Prix at the VJYP with both of them), collaborates with DJ Extended, is a member of Improdimensija Orchestra. He also is a member of The Septet and Katarsis4 saxophone quartet, takes part in various interdisciplinary projects, engages in pedagogical work.
Danielius Pancerovas got involved with jazz while at the Stasys Šimkus Conservatoire in Klaipėda. However, since the school does not offer jazz studies he studied independently. During his study years he played in Klaipėda jazz orchestra.
Later he honed his jazz skills at the LAMT, where together with schoolmates he formed Katarsis4 saxophone quartet, also became a member of The Septet and Džiazlaif. In 2017, with Džiazlaif Danielius won the Grand Prix of the VJYP competition and a special prize for the best original composition, and a year later he recorded his debut album in United Kingdom. He also is a member of Improdimensija Orchestra.
He has appeared with various ensembles at all jazz festivals in Lithuania, and has also performed with Džiazlaif in Latvia, Berlin, Leipzig and other German cities.
Dominykas Norkūnas started his music studies at the Ąžuoliukas School of Music, later continued his education in the Rhythmic Music Department at the University of Applied Sciences, as an “Erasmus” student he honed his skills at the Royal Academy of Music in Aalborg (Denmark).
In 2018, the guitarist graduated from the LAMT, where he earned Master Degree in contemporary music and free improvisation. In the same year, with Mantvydas Pranulis’ trio Parxess600 he became the finalist of the VJYP competition, and last year, in addition to the Grand Prix, he also garnered the best instrumentalist award.
Dominykas plays in various formations of improvised music, free jazz, funk and noise music, takes part in various festivals and collaborates with actors.
After graduating from Balys Dvarionas Music School Simonas Kaupinis entered the LAMT as the tuba student. As an exchange student he refined his skills in Gioachino Rossini Conservatoire in Italy. Last year, he earned Master Degree in contemporary music and improvisation from the LAMT.
The tuba player plays in various ensembles of free improvised music, collaborates in projects with composers, and takes part in jazz and academic music festivals in Lithuania and abroad.
Shmuel Yatom is the only Lithuanian cantor, prayer director of Vilnius Choral Synagogue, reader of the Torah.
The cantor was born in the Ukraine and has been serving in the Vilnius Synagogue for 12 years, having inherited the traditions of cantorial singing from his father and grandfather. He uses a unique Litvak singing technique in his prayers.
Yatom performs not only religious Jewish music, but also folk songs in Hebrew, Yiddish and Aramaic, and has participated in the projects of the composer A. Šenderovas. He calls the preservation and nurturing of the legacy of the Gaon of Vilna his mission.
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