Rafai Jakiewicz, scholarship recipient of the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland, Gaude Polonia, talks about the success of the competition and the active promotion of music and love of the saxophone.
Mr. Rafai, no representatives of Lithuania have qualified for the programme Jude Bologna. The Lord is the first to be honored in 2022. Tell us how it happened. And what is involved in this program.
This scholarship was my dream. Participation in it gives you many opportunities for development, exposure to the authorities in the field I represent, and a comprehensive evaluation of my work.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of this programme. This program allows young artists (up to 40 years of age, in some justified cases the maximum is 45) to apply for a six-month scholarship from the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland. At the entrance, you need to decide on the teacher of the program: it can be a private person or an institution. My custodian is the Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra of Poland, Jerzy Simko, under the direction of Pyotr Miloyo Baron.
When the coordinator agrees, the documents are submitted to the National Center for Culture. Qualification by competition. The competition is fierce. This year, 48 winners were selected: 19 from Belarus, 1 from the Czech Republic, 1 from Lithuania, 1 from Russia, and 26 from Ukraine. As the numbers show, Ukraine and Belarus are on top.
This program is implemented in many areas, not only in the music I deal with. It relates to the broadly understood field of culture, such as: cinema, theatre, photography, literature and its translation, music, visual arts, and archaeological preservation.
Gaude Polonia is used by artists with significant and documented achievements in a specific field of creativity. Furthermore, the requirement to receive the grant is an interesting concept for the grant project, which is being evaluated favorably by the committee. What suggestions did you make, and what arguments did you use?
The principle is that the documents submitted should present yourself and your achievements in writing. Applications are due by October 15 of the previous year, with their project being submitted therein, indicating to what extent it will be implemented. Depending on what field you represent, there is also a second part. As a musician, I had to present my accomplishments physically. I sent it in as a CD with recordings on and the committee could listen to my original compositions performed by the quartet, incl. On the first album “Sometimes” recorded a year ago. The CD contains seven books. These are pieces of music for saxophone, bass guitar, percussion and piano. The album was recorded at Custom34 Studio in Gdańsk, one of the best recording studios in Poland. In addition, the app is also accompanied by recommendations, of which I had many, for which I thank all the reviewers.
I would like to note that I also applied for the scholarship a year ago, but I missed a few points. This year, the committee saw something more in me, because 2021 was really a very intense and busy year for me. I recorded my first album, I composed a lot. Paradoxically, it was due to a time of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does the implementation of this project look like in practice?
First of all, all scholarship holders must know the Polish language. That is why there are a lot of candidates from Ukraine and Belarus, for them the Polish language is closer than, for example, Czech or Estonian. The scholarship lasts for six months. Scholarship holders have a training supervisor who is provided during this time, i.e. the person under whose supervision they implement their program. This training supervisor oversees the work, but also helps with day-to-day matters. The scholarship holder guarantees housing and a permanent monthly financial grant to cover living costs. The scholarship is awarded at the end of December. The program is implemented from February to April of the following year. In my case, it runs from 1st April to 30th September this year.
My project is to compose pieces for a symphony orchestra and jazz quartet and write several arrangements for such an assortment. Besides, I am concentrating on conducting. Finally, there will be a concert during which I will compose my own compositions and my own song arrangements, among others Krzysztof Komeda or other Polish jazz composers.
The concert is scheduled to take place at the end of September this year, in Warsaw, in the Concert Hall of ul. Meowa. I am very happy with the venue where this concert will be held. It is a reconstructed room with excellent acoustics. Tomasz Konior and Konior Studio – the team responsible, among others, for the design of the headquarters of the Academy of Music in Katowice, and above all for the magnificent seat of the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra there. The acoustics of the hall were supervised by Mr. Yasuhisa Toyota – Director and Chief Designer for the famous acoustic engineering company Nagata Acoustics from Los Angeles and Tokyo, the composer of the wonderful Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bard College Performing Arts in New York, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and many concert venues other in the world.
For a Warsaw, this room on Miodowa Street is one of the most unique in Poland. The final concert will be open to the public, and is included in the repertoire of the “Nowa Miodowa” festival.
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What feelings do you have before the concert?
This party will be an honorable start for me. I am proud to be able to perform in a concert with such a distinguished band as Polska Orkiestra Sinfonia Iuventus im. Jersey Simcoe and give your suggestions and ideas.
I would like to note here that the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra was founded on the initiative of Jerzy Simko, one of the most prominent Polish conductors, and established by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, and began its artistic work in June 2008. The main premise was to give young musicians the opportunity for the orchestra to debut time and prepare them for further work. The orchestra is made up of the most talented graduates of the music academies under the age of 30.
The orchestra has collaborated with many famous conductors, such as: Jerzy Semkow, Kazimierz Kord, Jan Krenz, Krzysztof Penderecki, Agnieszka Duczmal, Jerzy Maksymiuk and many other famous Polish and international.
Thinking of visiting Lithuania with this concert?
I have such plans. It certainly won’t be possible to implement it this year, but it may work next year. In general, I have many other ideas related to Lithuania, interesting projects. However, it all depends on the financing. As an organization – the Polish music scene in Lithuania, of which I am the head – we have submitted applications to the Foundation “Helping Poles in the East” and we are waiting for your opinion.
Our plans are ambitious, but they depend on how much money we get to implement them. A big jazz festival is planned – “Weekend with Polish Jazz”, a series of sacred concerts and music workshops for Polish youth are also planned. We hope to fully implement these plans.
We have planned concerts with the quartet in Poland, Lithuania and other European and Asian countries, which have been postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and we hope that the plans will be implemented this year.
Your instrument is a saxophone. Do you consider yourself a classical or jazz saxophone player?
I am a strictly jazz saxophone player. Although sometimes I play concerts related to classical music. I chose the saxophone when I was still in music school as a second instrument, and I seriously started playing it at the Vilnius Conservatory. Then there were music studies in Lithuania, continuing in Poland, then bachelor, then graduation.
I also finished my MA in Jazz Management. I definitely feel better in jazz. All of my projects are related to jazz and widely understood recreational music.
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Since you mentioned lighter, more entertaining music, it’s worth noting that your first instrument was the accordion – an instrument that has seen its ups and downs. For years, it was associated only with folk music, country bands, and home feasts. Hence it is taken “less seriously”. Currently, he is back in his favour, and experiencing a musical renaissance. Do you feel the passion and appreciation for this instrument because your love for music began with it?
yes! The accordion is like a chameleon. It produces a lot of sounds, a wide range of music that can only be played on the accordion, starting with classical, ending with jazz or klezmer. Yes, I have great respect for this machine.
Rafai Jakevich Saxophone player, music producer, composer. In 2019, he received his MA with honors from the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz in the saxophone class of Dr. D. Hap. Maciej Sikała and Leading Jazz by Prof. Andrei Zubek. He won many national and international competitions: Gnesin Jazz in Moscow (2nd place), School & Jazz Festival in Lubaczów (main prize), Padova International Music Competition (1st place) and others. In 2012, he received a congratulatory letter from the President of Lithuania for his musical achievements. His most recent achievement is the release of his first CD “occasionally” – with Rafał Jackiewicz Quartet – and re-release on tape. He was enthusiastically received at music fairs in Tokyo, Japan and Tampa, Florida. There is a plan to release a vinyl version. Rafał Jackiewicz runs his own projects and collaborates with various bands with which he has played in many European countries and the USA.
Gaude Polonia is a scholarship program for the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, launched in 2012, aimed at young people from Central and Eastern Europe involved in artistic creation and dissemination of culture. The program works to identify and build a platform for understanding and good communication on the basis of cultural cooperation between Poland and its close neighbors to the East.
Interview published in “Kurier Wileński” magazine No. 17 (50) 30/04-06/05/2022