Go big or go home! While that daring command most commonly relates to the competitive realms of sports and business, Yuri Volodarsky has brazenly applied it to
music. The versatile composer and occasional keyboard player earned notice writing soundtrack scores and smooth jazz, but his passion—and his latest effort—decidedly
favor progressive rock.
Recent album release Life Is Good does, indeed, “go big” in sound and ambition, featuring symphonic arrangements, soaring guitars and romping keyboards; even a tribute to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Special guests among the 12-member ensemble include woodwinds player Gary Meek, guitarists Oz Noy and Jeff Kollman along with vocalists Nad Sylvan, Will Champlin and Jeff Scott Soto, bringing an all-star revue vibe a la Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
The project is called RTFact, a somewhat self-deprecating moniker, as Yuri explains. “The original name of the project was Artifact and we released our first single, ‘Life Is Good,’ under that name. However, we realized that Artifact would be lost in the current Internet environment. We changed it to RTFact and released the album under that name. It is just an abbreviation of Artifact, which is brilliant considering what prog rock is now—an artifact.”
Throwback music of a different sort from Tchaikovsky and other Russian classical greats also inspires this Alan Parsons-like maestro, who emigrated with his family from Ukraine to San Francisco in 1991.
Born in Odessa to artistically inclined parents, Volodarsky embraced both music and theatrical pursuits at an early age. His mother taught piano and his father was an engineer by trade who also sang opera. One of Yuri’s earliest memories is seeing his father in a traumatically dramatic stage performance. “I was 3 years old. At the end of the opera Eugene Onegin, Onegin shot my father. He fell down and I started crying,” he recalls. “My mom had to explain it was acting!”
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