Interview with victor paukstelis
New York Piano Group | September 15, 2015
Victor was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, is a graduate of the National M. K. Ciurlionis School of Art and Balys Dvarionas Music School. He has obtained a Bachelor's, Master's and a Licentiate of Arts degree from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, and has studied at Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. He has taken lectures with Gary Graffman, Jiří Hlinka, Boris Petrushanskij, Michail Voskresenskij and Anthony di Bonaventura.
Victor started painting a decade ago. His most notable teacher was the famous Israeli painter Leo Ray. Victor’s discography includes two CDs: 'Bach Liszt Debussy Victor Paukstelis' in 2013 and 2014 'Bach Lyadov Scriabin Piano Music’ in 2014.
I understand that you’re also a painter. How do you divide your time between practicing the piano and paining?
These two professions help me to find my inner balance. Technologically the two processes are rather different. I can say that painting helps me to take a rest from making music and vice versa. Everything, however, happens in periods: I paint more when preparing for an exhibition and I play more when preparing for a concert. It is very useful to know more than one field of art. It widens your horizon, your knowledge, it leads to better understanding of the structure of creation, of the form.
Looking into history, a lot of famous artists were active in different fields. Da Vinci was a painter, an engineer and a passionate scientist; Goethe was a poet, a scientist and a painter; E. T. A. Hoffmann was a writer, a lawyer, a conductor, a musicologist and a composer.
Did your upbringing in Lithuania influence you as an artist? If yes, how has it influenced you?
One is always strongly influenced by surroundings in which one is living, growing and reaching maturity. I have had and I still have wonderful teachers and friends in Lithuania, who influence and inspire me. My grandmother, Miriam Azizbekova was such an influential model in my childhood. She studied under Samuel Feinberg, who was one of the great pianists of all times. Other influences include my mother, Tatjana Radovic, a pianist, and Nora Ray, a wonderful pianist and an artist.
In painting I am helped and inspired by my good friend Leo Ray, a prominent Israeli painter. It is impossible not to mention the sublime Lithuanian nature, which always calms my heart and gives start to new creative ideas.
Can you describe the classical music scene in Lithuania?
We have three major cities in Lithuania where music comes to life at concert halls. We invite renowned performers from abroad and we also have our own highly regarded professional artists who never refuse to play in Lithuania.
Can you tell me about your recital program at Carnegie Hall? For example, what inspired you to choose these pieces?
This program was prepared for the fall season of 2015. I think that the program is dynamic and full of contrasts. It allows the listeners to submerge into different, new and intriguing experiences and feelings. In this program I am playing mainly opuses from the Baroque and Romantic periods, adding a touch of Impressionism. I choose creations for a concert very attentively. I have to feel the structure of the placement of the pieces, their relationship. I bring the program to the scene only when I feel that all the pieces fall in the right places. This program also allows me to explore the acoustics of the hall and the possibilities of the instrument.
Who are some of your favorite composers?
I like composers, whose creations I am working on at this very moment, the best.
How do you feel about playing at Carnegie Hall?
Carnegie Hall is a legendary place. It is a great honor to try myself there. I am sure that the fine instrument and the famous acoustics will contribute to the joy of performing. It is the case when your partner in the concert is not only the great audience, but also the great instrument and the flawless acoustics.
You use visuals for your current recital program, ‘Restless Paintings.’ Do you prefer to give recitals with visuals? What can the concert-goer expect from such a recital?
The elements of visualization in a concert create a new, a different feeling of the space in a hall. The audience does not rely on sounds only. Some intimacy is achieved, too. The relationship with the listeners becomes more individual, because my paintings come to life on the screen.
As a painter, you create your own work. Do you feel greater freedom as a painter or a pianist? Please explain why.
Creative freedom comes when mastery is acquired. One has to learn the rules and to master the technique first. I feel more free the more I play or the more I paint. I think that the purpose of each creation is to disclose the strata of the hidden energy, emotions and knowledge that are in the artist's head, heart, subconsciousness, etc. It is possible when one is free and ready for it technically and spiritually. Only when this disclosure happens, the creation acquires its purpose and meaning, and the chosen one acquires immortality.
What new experience do you wish to give to the audience?
I think that a concert is a kind of journey. The journey which is based on the inner feelings. Music arouses vibrations in the listener's soul, he forgets himself and gives the music to lead him. In some sense the listener is hypnotized, and he wakes up only when the concert ends. This is how I felt in the best concerts that I had a privilege and happiness to hear. Now I try to achieve this kind of state as a performer.
Would you like to share your future plans? Such as CD, concert, etc?
My new CD came out few days ago, released by an Italian company named Sheva Collection. It contains opuses by Rameau, Schumann and Franck. I recorded it this Spring. I am also preparing a chamber music program, which is going to be performed with Rikka Hakola, a wonderful singer from Finland, immediately after my return to Lithuania. I am also painting a new series based on the life of my grandparents. I try to capture the soul of the 20 century, which is gone and will never come back.
Victor Paukstelis performs on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at Carnegie Hall. For tickets, click here. Learn more about Victor Paukstelis at www.victorpaukstelis.com.