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In Concert: Jazz Pianist and Composer Vadim Neselovskyi

April 22, 2023 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Ukrainian Institute of America


In Concert: Jazz Pianist and Composer Vadim Neselovskyi

Widely-acclaimed, having been featured on NPR Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, WNYC, New York Times, Boston Globe, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and more, Vadim Neselovskyi comes to the Ukrainian Institute of America, after touring throughout the US and Europe over the past year.

Inspired by his Ukrainian heritage, Nesylovskyi will share critically-acclaimed Odesa as well as passages from Ukrainian Diary, his reaction to the war in Ukraine.

Program includes: 

First Set: Music from Odesa: A Musical Walk Through a Legendary City

Neselovskyi will share material from his acclaimed 2022 Sunnyside release Odesa: A Musical Walk Through a Legendary City, an album that began as a love letter to his father during a terminal struggle with cancer and became, in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, a tribute to Ukraine’s beauty and cultural legacy. Odesa was included in Best of 2022 roundups from The Boston Globe and All Music Guide, and cited in “5 Classical Albums You Should Listen To Right Now” from The New York Times.

Second Set: Preview of  “Ukrainian Diary,” a work-in-progress 

Neselovskyi will premiere selected movements from a new project, “Ukrainian Diary” for Piano, an album-length suite of his reflections on current events in Ukraine starting from the date of invasion: February 24, 2022. The full piece is planned for a late 2023 premiere in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. But New Yorkers will have a chance to hear several movements exclusively.


Vadim Neselovskyi was born in the Black Sea port of Odesa in 1977 during the Brezhnev years (commonly referred to as the “Period of Stagnation”). He was still a child when Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and just 14 years old when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. At the time of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004-2005, Neselovskyi recalled to Nate Chinen of NPR Music, “I started to realize that Ukraine is becoming something more than just this obscure post-Soviet Republic, you know? And then I started coming to Ukraine regularly, and I saw that my friends were experiencing something very new — this feeling that democracy means having something to say about the way the country is going.”

Things took a dire turn with Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. Neselovskyi followed the news from afar and became more and more invested in his heritage. “I happened to have a student at Berklee whose father is the main opposition journalist in Ukraine,” Neselovskyi told Chinen. “So I would get the news firsthand. And my God, I really got involved.” At the height of the 2014 crisis, the pianist led his trio at the Lviv Jazz Festival. In 2015 he performed at Berklee’s Concert for Ukraine.

In the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, Neselovskyi’s involvement has only grown. “I realized that by playing one concert and sometimes raising 50,000 euros, I can do more than I would as a very inexperienced soldier,” he says. Since the war began, he has performed over a hundred benefits in the United States and in Europe, where his bookings have ranged from jazz clubs to churches to refugee centers. These benefit concerts have raised over $200,000 for Ukrainian relief. “Everywhere, Ukrainian refugees always came to me with tears,” he says. “Because for them, this was the music about what they just experienced.”

As DownBeat has also reported: “Well-connected in Europe, Neselovskyi has … busily arrang[ed] for the movement of medical supplies from Germany through Poland, where his musician contacts would transfer them across the border to Ukrainian soldiers. Neselovskyi proudly shows an Instagram post of his nephew, Igor Neselovskyi — who has been recruited to help — smiling broadly in front of a car that carried supplies bound for Ukraine. [He] is also part of an informal network trying to help Ukrainian musicians seek refuge outside the country.”

As a classical piano student, Neselovskyi was the youngest person accepted to the famed Odesa Conservatory. He became infatuated with jazz and soon moved to Germany and then the US to continue his studies at Berklee College of Music. He gained greater exposure performing alongside his mentor Gary Burton during the vibraphone legend’s final decade as a recording artist. Neselovskyi has since released a number of albums as a leader and as a partner with French horn and Alphorn master Arkady Shilkloper. He recently began to explore his Jewish musical roots in collaboration with John Zorn on the eclectic composer’s own Tzadik label, recording a duo with fellow pianist Craig Taborn.

For his Odesa album, the pianist looked to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as a model, leading listeners through his Odesa, from the history he learned, his personal recollections and observations, and his dreams. He began to envision the project like a theater piece, allowing the audience to become fully immersed in the work. The recording was made in the acoustically astonishing Sendesaal in Bremen, Germany. Radio Bremen’s Peter Schulze offered the pianist an opportunity of three days in the Sendesaal: two to record alone on stage with the hall’s exquisite piano and the third as the Sendesaal’s first in-person concert after the initial pandemic lockdown. The performance was also broadcast on Radio Bremen.

Generations of Odesa and Ukraine residents have witnessed strife and hardship, and though there is reason for hope in the current resistance to Russian aggression, there is also tragedy and destruction unfolding every day. Neselovskyi chooses to remember the beauty of the place where he was born while also acknowledging the darkness. In both solo piano and chamber group settings, Neselovskyi harnesses his love for that pearl of the Black Sea, making music that always continues to grow and evolve.

PUBLICITY CONTACT: Matt Merewitz / matt@fullyaltered.com / 215-629-6155


In Concert: Jazz Pianist and Composer Vadim Neselovskyi


April 22, 2023
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Event Category: