Azerbaijani composer Turkar Gasimzada writes ornately detailed, intimate works that captivate the ear.  We’re delighted to feature his solo piano work vu’cumpra’ (2010), as performed by Kristofer Rucinski, on our Season One closing concert on May 5th at the Hoffner Lodge.

CSB: Could you tell us a little about your compositional process?

TG: For me there is a very tiny little room between nothing and something and the beauty is kept in there. I search for a key to that room, I go for that charming moment of magic in music. Poems also do play a role in being a source of inspiration and motivation for my compositions. I tend not to leave the room as in this poem by Joseph Brodsky (English translation is below):

Don’t leave the room, don’t make the mistake and run.
If you smoke Shipkas, why do you need Suns?
Things are silly out there, especially the happy clucks.
Just go to the john, and come right back.

Oh, don’t leave the room, don’t ring for a car.
Because space consists of a corridor
And ends with a counter. And should a floozy slip in,
Flashing her teeth, make her scram without stripping.

Don’t leave the room, feign that you’ve caught a chill.
What could be more fun than four walls and a chair?
Why leave this place only to come back late in
The evening same as you were, moreover, mutilated?

Oh, don’t leave the room. Dance the bossa nova
In shoes but no socks, a coat over your naked bod.
The hallway reeks of ski wax and cabbage.
You wrote a lot of letters: one more would be too much.

Don’t leave the room. Oh, just let the room imagine
What you look like. And generally, incognito
Ergo sum, as form was told in anger by substance.
Don’t leave the room! Methinks out there it ain’t France.

Don’t be a fool! Don’t be like the others.
Don’t leave the room! I.e., let the furniture have its druthers,
Blend in with the wallpaper. Lock up and let the armoire
Keep chronos, cosmos, eros, race, and virus from getting in the door.

CSB: How does the performer you are writing influence the music you write?

TG: I am fond of writing music for the performer I know personally. It is kind of sharing a part of your personality with someone. I do think of a specific person when I write a certain piece. I would not be true to myself if I said I thought too much of one’s performance skills or had any kind of aesthetic expectations. I write the music I need to write, however, I do think of a person, his character that I know and try to listen to the stuff I have written pretending I have their ears.
CSB: What influence does location have on you? How did your years in Cincinnati influence your composition?

TG: I did my MM degree in Manhattan School of Music in New York before I came to Cincinnati for my doctorate. In New York the tempo was very fast; I felt that I needed to be in an ascetic place where I could give myself more time to compose, and Cincinnati was just the right place for that reason. Currently, I am in Baku, Azerbaijan but I do remember my times in Cincy, when I felt I would use to come back from the library very late, let’s say at 4 am, and watch how deer wandered around me.

I met a number of great performers and composers in Cincinnati and I am very thankful for this experience.

CSB: Who are some other local composers you admire? What would go on Cincinnati new music playlist?

One of the most influential composers in University of Cincinnati was and still is Mara Helmuth, with whom I studied with during my years in Cincinnati. I would like to specifically draw attention to her pieces Butterfly mirrors and Water birds.

Here is a playlist (in a random order) of Cincinnati composers I admire :

CSB: What new projects are on your radar?

I’m currently completing a project that took me two years to complete – “19 fragile constructions” for prepared santoor, percussion and electronics. I am also working on a piece for solo flute based on Samuel Beckett’s shortest work, “Breath”.