Blind Piano Prodigy Yakir Arbib Teams With Visual Artist At Kennedy Center April 12

March 18, 2013
Press release
Yakir Arbib


Berklee College of Music presents Israeli pianist and composer Yakir Arbib, premiering his new piece, Waves of Visions, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C., Friday, April 12. The concert is part of the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Project, a showcase for outstanding students from America's finest music colleges and conservatories. 

Blind from birth, Arbib has the gift of synesthesia (a blending of the senses), allowing him to "see" tones as distinct colors. It inspired his new piece, Waves of Visions, a collaboration with visual artist Tamar Haber-Schaim, whose drawings, both pre-drawn and dynamically live-drawn with a Wacom Cintiq pen display, will be projected during the performance, influencing the musicians and vice versa. Arbib's most ambitious work to date, Waves of Visions is a seven-movement suite for flute, cello, piano, and drums. In addition to Arbib and Haber-Schaim, performers include flutist Milena Jancuric, cellist Naseem Alatrash, and percussionist Roberto Giaquinto.  

Arbib, who composes entire pieces in his head before entering the music into a notation program like Sibelius or Finale, compares his writing process to a journey into the unknown. "The colors I visualize create a map, or landscape, that's out there to be explored. It's like, I know there's a desert, but I haven't been there yet. Are there scorpions here? No one told me!" says Arbib. "Tamar's visuals have a distinct presence I can connect to without looking. It's almost like I'm hearing them in the music, as if they're a fifth musical instrument."

The concert is free and open to the public and takes place on Friday, April 12, 6:30 pm, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, in Washington, D.C. Over the past nine years of Conservatory Project performances at the Kennedy Center, Berklee students have presented jazz, country, salsa, bluegrass, and an improvising string orchestra. Past performances can be viewed at the Kennedy Center's website

Yakir Arbib was born in Jerusalem in 1989 and studied classical and jazz throughout his childhood. In 2008 he won the Massimo Urbani International Jazz Award in Italy and was signed by Philology Jazz Records. Since Arbib began his studies at Berklee in 2009, he has made a radical return to classical music, studying under piano chair Stephany Tiernan and composition chair Arnold Friedman. He has been composing and performing avant-garde classical music, appearing in prestigious halls such as Steinert Hall in Boston, and Felicja Blumental Center in Tel Aviv. His compositions have been performed by the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra and the Triple Helix Piano Trio. 

Tamar Haber-Schaim is a visual artist who has developed her own minimalist approach to illustration, graphic design, and animation. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesBritish VogueDer Spiegel, and Atlantic Monthly. Her three mediums – line drawing, cut paper, and digital work – have appeared in international art annuals and exhibitions, including a solo exhibition in Germany. She has animated and produced televisions commercials using all three of these techniques. 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the nation's busiest performing arts facility and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly two million; Center related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more. Now in its 40th season, the Center presents performances of music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education.