CLARK, NJ - Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Alexis Reed recently attended a lecture and performance by Yevgeny Kutik, a Russian-American classically trained violinist at Kean University’s Human Rights Gallery.

Reed is a student in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies class at ALJ.  The class is conducted in partnership with Kean University’s Holocaust Resource Center and the Diversity Council. 

Kutik shared his experiences of being a refugee and his relocation to the United States during his lecture. He also discussed making the album, Music from the Suitcase, which was a recording of songs from the sheet music his mother was able to fit into one of the two suitcases they were allowed to bring when they left Belarus.

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 “The term refugee is one that often carries a negative connotation with it. Allowing students to engage in dialogue with and to see the cultural contributions of an artist as acclaimed as Yevgeny Kutik will hopefully change that connotation,” stated Franklin Stebbins, teacher of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies class at Johnson. 

“Yevgeny Kutik’s performance was so empowering and inspiring.  I am lucky to have been one of the few in attendance. Hearing his story of how his family escaped the Soviet Union and the building of their life in America after all they had been through was moving. The music that he chose to play told a painful story and really helped paint a picture of the pain and suffering that his country and his family had been through,” stated Reed.