Jay Vilnai is a New York-based guitarist, composer, teacher, and front man for the experimental chamber ensemble Vampire Suit. Of Russian-Romanian-Polish descent, he was raised in Jerusalem, and having started learning the guitar at the age of 14, he showed sufficient promise that he was able to move to the United States of America to study at the New School in its Jazz and Contemporary Music Program, graduating in 2003. His music fuses elements from jazz, Klezmer, and traditional Arab music, among many other elements.
Jay got in touch with me to tell me about one of his recent projects: “About a year ago I started an online crowd-sourcing campaign, sponsored by the American Music Center, to record and premiere a cycle of six songs for mezzo and string trio, all on different Shakespeare texts. We raised all the money we needed and the album was released in the fall. The results all turned out beautifully, and I’m very proud of the album and the performers – singer Gelsey Bell and members of the MIVOS quartet, one of the best contemporary string quartets in the US today.”
Jay continues, “Of course I prepared all the scores and parts in Sibelius, as I’ve been doing for 10 years now. I try and always pay extra attention to the score’s presentability, and, being somewhat of a font-nerd, to pick fonts that would go along with the music. With the Shakespeare Songs score completed and looking, if I may say so, pretty dashing, I offered a nice bound copy of it to people giving money to our campaign. With the help of a binding company in upstate NY, I produced several copies on nice cream paper, bound in red faux-leather with an embossed cover and a marker ribbon. They turned out pretty amazing. Even people who don’t read music were taken with the way the scores and lyrics were presented in those, and of course I couldn’t have done any of that without Sibelius.”