WHO'S WHO AND WHY: Raphael Rogiński

Raphael Rogiński

BY John Biweekly

In this section we ask the person or the place’s representative the following question: WHY ARE YOU HERE? It’s completely up to them, how are they going to interpret the question and answer it

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Raphael Rogiński – born in Frankfurt, guitarist, composer and performer, improviser, cultural animator and student of musical folklore.

He started playing electric guitar at the age of thirteen. Educated in jazz and classical, he also studied musical theory and ethnomusicology. Since the very beginning of his creative work he has been focusing primarily on improvisation rooted in blues and jazz, as well as on ethnic and folk music. It is the combination of those two paths that best defines his style both in terms of composing and performing. Deeply rooted in the Jewish culture, Rogiński always sought to accommodate it in his art and this search resulted in the conception of two projects which he leads: Shofar and Cukunft.

He also acts as art director of festivals showcasing new Jewish culture – like Tikkun, Varshe or Mizrach – and as consultant for projects featured at those festivals. Another source of inspiration for Rogiński is the primitive music of America, blues and 1960s rock. Filtered and processed, it can be heard in both his solo and band performances. A deep analysis of techniques employed by classical blues guitarists and the knowledge of instruments of the 1950s and 1960s form the basis of Rogiński’s sound. Inspired, on the other hand, by American experimental music (Harry Patch, Henry Cowell and others), Rogiński formed the band Spinalonga.

Research of European ‘early music’ resulted in the recent release of Rogiński Plays Bach (Rogiński gra Bacha), a collection of Bach’s pieces played on prepared guitars. Rogiński is also involved in projects stemming from the international new jazz scene. His compositions, improvisations and interpretations are often used as soundtrack for various artistic events – documentaries and animations (e.g. Man Ray, Viking Elling), performing acts (J. Kalina), traditional and multimedia theatre plays, and literature readings (Tadeusz Różewicz, Mieczysław Myśliwski, Mieczysław Abramowicz, Andrzej Stasiuk). Performing mainly on his own artistic terms, he gives solo concerts and leads various ensembles.

Currently, his ongoing musical projects include the aforementioned Shofar, Cukunft and Spinalonga, as well as the trio with Macio Moretti and Marcin Masecki, the duo Sisters with DJ Lenar and solo concerts.

Rogiński played or collaborated with, among others, Kazuchisa Uchichashi, Le Quan Ninh, Noel Akchote, Frederic Blondy, Keith Rowe, Joe Giardullo, Axel Dorner, Thomas Lehn, Andrew Sharpley, John Edwards, John Tilbury, Brigit Ulher, Yale Strom , Tim Daisy, Dave Rempis, Mark Tokar, Mark Sanders, Clayton Thomas, Kris Wenders, Peter Jaquemyn, Wacław Zimpel, Emiter, Macio Moretti, DJ Lenar, Daniel Pigoński, Konstanty Usenko, Jarek Bester, Ireneusz Socha, Vadim O. Pavluk, Ryszard Latecki, Rafał Mazur, Piotr Bukowski, Arszyn, Mikołaj Trzaska, Maria Peszek.

Rogiński frequently participates in music workshops, competitions and festivals of contemporary music, including the Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow, Simcha in Wrocław, Four Cultures in Łódź, Ha Motiv Ha Jehudi in Warsaw, Rainbow Coalition Festival in Hanover (USA), Warsaw Autumn, Gaudeamus Music Week in Hague, Ars Electronica in Linz, G2 Music for creative chamber orchestra, NuFolk in Gdańsk, Fete de la Musique in Paris, and many others.

“The Jewish environment practically never allows alcohol, so the wedding music seemed to be created to put one into trans, dazing dance without the need to use intoxicants.”
“I was born in Frankfurt am Main in the family of emigrants, I lived in an environment open to this and other cultures. I never had to ‘face the truth’, like people born here in Poland. It was no mistery as to who I was.”
“In all my perception of the Jewish music there is one constant - a missionary approach. I think it's something I share with all musicians I work with. It's something very much out of fashion, but necessary.”


Luckily I don’t know where I am, why here, not elsewhere. The minute I find out, that’s when I’m gone from that “place”. Another matter is my persistent longing for something constantly escaping me. The essence of my work is this insatiable longing. At least I’m not endangered with becoming a star. Besides stars fall down, so it’s hard to say whether they are here”. I detest the celebrity attitude and being superior to others precisely because it’s a big lie of being “here”. I once felt the “here” in a jungle, only because it consists of constant and natural motion. In nature the “here” expresses itself through the illness of an animal, and it can only happen once. Only human beings have learned to deceive themselves by re-asserting their position. Only recently certain Indians had stated, that “here” is a thousand worlds. Such approach was unbearable to others, therefore they quickly slaughtered the Indians. If you see me in some specific place, that’s only because you’re crossing my path, the path of the hunter. For me the “here” is diffrent worlds interlaced with a structure of ancient huners’ paths, where movement never ceases. And the ancestors’ spirits which are more present “here”, then I am.