Eugeniy Atsapkin “from classical symphony to hard rock”
Guest of the “Musical Klondike” is co-author of the GENESIS ROCK SHOW program, guitarist and composer, one of the founders of the Kaliningrad Regional Musical Theater Orchestra Eugeniy Atsapkin. In a conversation with Eugeniy, we touched upon the topics of working on a rock show, his collaboration with Baruch Berliner and Nachum Slutzker, and the combination of classical and rock music.
– Eugeniy, please tell us about your acquaintance with the GENESIS project. What attracted your attention to the project?
– Our collaboration began with a theatrical production of a symphonic rock version of the Symphonic Poem “Genesis” at the Kaliningrad Regional Musical Theater, where I worked at that moment. It was musically almost the same classical symphonic version of the work, but with the participation of a rock band. The idea for the production was proposed by the talented conductor Mikhail Kirchhoff, who came to work at the theater and had already collaborated with composer Baruch Berliner and producer Nachum Slutzker, performing the classical version of “Genesis” with various orchestras both in Russia and abroad.
When I got acquainted with the work, I was struck by the beauty of this music, its depth and scale. It has everything I love – both the best examples of classical symphonic music and elements of rock music. In addition, the human factor is important to me in my work. We have a warm relationship with the project producer Nachum Slutzker, who is a friend and teacher, knows how to captivate everyone with his ideas and at the same time is able to hear other people and respect their opinions. And last but not least, the project gave me the opportunity to realize my ideas and creative ambitions.
– You have several significant roles in the project: you are the manager of Baruch Berliner’s Genesis International Project and the most interesting thing is that you are a co-author of the GENESIS ROCK SHOW program, which premiered last year in Kaliningrad. Whose initiative was the creation of such an offshoot of the GENESIS project?
– I wrote several instrumental pieces in the spirit of the work, using musical themes from it, for a production in Kaliningrad, in order to slightly lengthen and expand the Symphonic Poem.
Then I had the idea that this could be made into an excellent rock opera. When I shared this idea with producer Nachum Slutzker, it turned out that he had been developing this idea for a long time and we were on the same page.
– Can you tell us, in addition to the original symphonic poem, what did you focus on when preparing the rock show? And what task did you face, as the author of the text and music?
– Besides the Symphonic Poem, I focused on the music that I love and listen to. The range of my musical preferences in rock music is quite wide, so our rock show contains elements of different styles and there are references to various groups and performers from Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, to Dream Theater and Opeth, and even such quite extreme ones bands like Cradle of Filth or Satyricon.
This does not mean that any quotes and borrowings were used, or the task was to write a song like Pink Floyd. All this is harmoniously intertwined with each other and can be combined within one song, as, for example, in the song of sinners from the part about the Flood, where the idea of a choir of screaming and chanting sinners was taken from hardcore music like Madball or Hatebreed, the music in the song is closer to progressive rock, and the choir itself ends up sounding completely different from the reference. In addition, the track about the murder of Abel by Cain, which begins quite in the spirit of classic rock, becomes heavier and more aggressive as it develops, and in the finale explodes with a fast theme in the spirit of Cradle of Filth.
If you mean, were we guided by “Jesus Christ Superstar”, then no, this famous rock opera was not a reference; it so happened that I listened to it for the first time, when I had almost finished working on our work. Although some particularly inquisitive listeners find parallels in the music of J. But we do not live in a vacuum, so in almost any performer you can find motifs similar to someone else.
The task was to convey in music and text a well-known biblical story and to connect several stories into one canvas – the Creation of the world, the story of the creation of Adam and Eve and their Fall, the story of Cain and Abel and the first murder on Earth, the story of Noah, the Flood and the Covenant of Salvation that gave God to people.
In a musical sense, the task was to write my own version using the musical material of the Symphonic Poem. Berliner’s melodies were partly used in songs, new music was partly written, and we also took fragments entirely from Berliner’s classical symphonic and symphonic rock versions.
For myself, I set the task to write the most hit songs that are memorable, songs with catchy lyrics that are understandable to a wide audience. How well I succeeded in the end is not for me to judge.
– Who are the musicians and vocalists currently involved in rock shows?
– Currently, in addition to the symphony orchestra, the production involves a rock band – 2 guitars, a bass guitar, keyboards and drums; 4 main vocalists, 3-4 backing vocalists and a narrator.
We try to expand the possibilities for performances as much as possible, so we also have a symphonic playback – a completely live recorded orchestra that a rock band can play along with, and in addition intermediate options. For example, a string quartet that complements the playback or, as we recently played in Kaliningrad, a chamber orchestra that plays parallel to the playback. In this case, the playback complements the orchestra and strengthens it, allowing, on the one hand, to minimize the composition without losing the power of the sound, and on the other hand, to preserve the liveliness of the performance.
I recently finished working on the choir parts, so in the near future we will try a version with a larger choir. We already have a preliminary agreement with one wonderful Moscow choir to participate in our production.
Of course, we also have fully recorded music with an orchestra, rock band and even backing vocals, so if any troupe or theater wants to work on more chamber production, we are interested in this option and will be happy to discuss it.
– Initially, GENESIS was a symphonic poem, which gradually created an interesting musical “universe” around itself. We talked about this earlier in an interview with Baruch Berliner. What, in your opinion, is the peculiarity of GENESIS ROCK SHOW?
– Genesis Rock Show is an independent work, musically quite different from the classical symphonic version.
This is a completely different format, which was created largely for people who are far from both symphonic music and religion. The format of the songs is more familiar to an unprepared audience and is easier to perceive. Due to the theatrical nature of the concert and the accompanying video, people more easily perceive the more complex musical material that is also present in the work.
At the same time, the Genesis Rock Show can introduce viewers to styles that are new to them, since it contains almost the entire history of music – from classical symphony to hard rock.
– Classical and rock music are tightly intertwined in your musical biography. How were your musical creative preferences formed?
– I was engaged in rock music for the main part of my creative life. I wrote music for my bands of varying degrees of heaviness – from fairly light to quite brutal, and played tributes to various famous groups. Classical music came into my life along with musical theater, where I began to work several years ago. There I also began to become more familiar with classical music, and eventually, having assembled an orchestra for the theater, I worked as an inspector and assistant of the principal conductor.
As for rock music, my passion began when I was very young with the classics of hard rock music like Scorpions, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, etc. and after a while I began to be interested in heavier styles. In rock music, the energy and power are transmitted to the listener on a physical level, and I really like it.
Rock music is a broad concept. This is not only primitive music, but also quite complex both for perception and performance. There are styles that borrow something from jazz, classical music, collaborations with symphony orchestras, etc. All this provides the basis for musical development, as well as inspiration for creating your own material.
– What projects of your own are you currently working on?
– Besides rock shows, I’m currently working on material for a couple of new rock operas. There are script ideas and main topics for which demos need to be prepared, etc.
By the way, we are constantly looking for new partners and like-minded people, and are interested in new people – directors and scriptwriters, first of all, so if anyone feels the strength and desire to participate in the creation of new works, feel free to write on social networks or by email.
In addition, I periodically play concerts with local bands in different styles from pop to rock – I’m interested in everything that gives me pleasure.
Interviewed by Alexandra SAIDOVA
Photos from the personal archive
of Eugeniy Atsapkin