March 2005:
Vitalij Neugasimov

see his biography and discography, click here!

Vitalij Neugasimov Vitalij tells his story
how he came to the organ:

I have never tried organ until I was 18. My first piano improvisations were performed at secondary school. Actually I spent much more time playing something abstract, than practising certain pieces. Later I continued my improvisation studies in Lithuanian Academy of Music with professor T.Makainas. As an organist I ought to learn, how to harmonize a choral tune, adding several variations to it. I also had to perform free preludes and more complicated polyphonic structures, such as passacaglia or fuga. This experience and great love to Bach’s masterpieces shaped the way of my musical thinking, while improvising. However, often unable to keep pure baroque style, especially in difficult counterpoints, students were encouraged to mix various streams and to feel free treating unexpected keys. Besides, improvisation was the best form of relaxation after serious studies, so I often made some fun out of it. Unfortunately, organ improvisation was not popular in Lithuania and my strongest impressions were brought by Peter Eben during his concert in Vilnius Philharmonic and the organist of Erfurt Dom, whom I have succeeded to listen to during the Holy Service in Germany.
After finishing organ studies, I got deeper into jazz and contemporary composition, using new knowledge for my piano and synthesizer experiments. In the same time I was influenced by Keith Jarrett, Chick Correa, Michael Petrucciani and some Lithuanian jazz pianists, as well. Despite of it, I never paid great attention to traditional jazz.
Few years ago the brilliant saxophonist–improviser and my partner Jan Maksimovich suggested to use pipe organ for our free fantasies, because of its splendid sound and huge timbral possibilities. As I have mentioned before, the tradition of organ improvisation were rather meagre in Lithuania. Worse, I had problems getting access to good mechanical instruments. Pipe organs are basically situated in churches and local authorities usually don’t support new musical ideas and projects. So forced to improvise mostly in baroque or classical manner, I dared to play more freely abroad (in Berlin, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche) and in some progressive Lithuanian spots. Currently were are trying to break ice, making our music approachable to audience.
Vitalij Neugasimov


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