Alexi Musnitsky is a young, talented pianist shining in the new age music with a debut album he recorded with some of the best musicians in the genre. Describing himself as a melancholic musician, Musnitsky began composing music as a way to communicate his feelings, grabbing the attention of Grammy Award-winning producer Will Ackerman, the founder of Windham Hill, which is the world’s leading new age record label.
Ackerman produced Musnitsky’s debut album “Zia,” which was recorded at Imaginary Roads Studio, and Musnitsky is expected to be nominated for the 2016 Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) awards for Best New Artist. Interestingly, Musnitsky also has close ties to Istanbul, as his father, Jerry Musnitsky, lives in the city and he is now planning to bring his music to Istanbul too.
After watching his sister play the piano at a small performance, he got into formal lessons at the age of four and was classically trained as a pianist but now he communicates his own emotions through his own compositions on the album “Zia,” which also includes four-time Grammy Award-winning musician Eugene Friesen, who performed on five of the seven musical tracks. He has been picked up in the U.S., Australia, Korea, China
and more and now his father is arranging concerts in Istanbul.
The young artist is also being promoted in Australia by Fiona Joy, a well-known and highly acclaimed new age pianist and the winner of the ZMR award for Best Solo Piano Album. Joy’s album “Grace” won the Grammy for Best New Age Album this year. Alexi Musnitsky is a rising star for sure but he is also surrounded by great musicians. I had a chance to ask him about the magical story of the album “Zia” and the details of his career and his music, as well his connection to Istanbul. You came up with your debut album “Zia” with your own compositions, so how exactly did you start writing down your own music?
When I was 18, I started composing my own music; it just came naturally. I hooked up an output line from the piano to a computer, made some home recordings and then posted them on the website SoundCloud.com. I got such a good response that it encouraged me to keep going.Your father lives in Istanbul and as far as I know he has plans for you in Istanbul too. So how do you describe your father’s role in your career?
My father represents the entrepreneur side of the fence, so the idea of chasing your dreams, taking long shots even if you may fail are things he not only believes in but supports to his fullest. As an entrepreneur, life has ups and downs. It was during a down that I was actually discovered by Will Ackerman. But with that “never give up” attitude, my father rallied all the support he could from family, friends to fund this first album. Now he has plans for Istanbul. Honestly, the stories from Istanbul are always fascinating and I would love to perform in Istanbul.Piano always gets listeners into deeper feelings, but what about your emotions when you play it?
I thoroughly enjoy playing for others but it is not a game for me to win, rather it is my pleasure talking to people through the piano. My mood, then, is dependent on the memory I am reliving and the emotion I am trying to convey.Your album feels a little bit melancholy as a whole, do you agree?
Definitely and I guess most of the emotions I draw on when composing are from sadder experiences. But I really believe that, as Kahlil Gibran said, “Sorrow carves the cup that holds your joy.” So there is something hopeful in that sad or hurtful experiences that you learn from won’t happen again.At the end listening to your album also feels kind of spiritual. Is there any detail that might be relevant to its spirituality?
Actually we recorded “Zia” in Vermont in a mountain wilderness setting, yet with Will Ackerman and Eugene Friesen alongside. So, for me, it was a unique combination of being with world-famous musicians that you would imagine in New York but on a remote mountain top. So it was a fascinating setting in the mountains, making the album special. You are a very young musician in the new age genre, but what about your audience?
New age can often be thought of as for an older and quiet crowd. But then I performed for a charity at a Paris
university to a young crowd where other artists were definitely not my music style. The result was amazing. The place went silent and remained focused throughout my playing – and then they wanted more. I am told that people listening can feel the emotion in the music. So I think that my music can touch people of any age. You know Istanbul well as it has been an integral part of your family, so how would you imagine Istanbul with your music?
I think that my music can touch people from various cultures too. Istanbul is perhaps the most varied and metropolitan city in Europe
(though most of Europe
doesn’t know that). Istanbul and being by the Bosphorus is a fascinating setting and unexpected for my music, yet I know it will fit.