18 June 2016

Look back at the academic year.

After many months of personal evolving, exploring, listening, reading, and murdering of a new language, I have come to the end of my first academic year in Vilnius. It has been a wonderful year full of uncovering lots of glorious works and witnessing many fantastic performances.

I wanted to use this post to look back at some of my favourites. So in no particular order, here are the gems of the year:

GAIDA - Obviously it would be crazy to ignore GAIDA Festival 2015. The festival is a great time and place during the Vilnius calendar, showing off cutting edge pieces from across the world and placing native Lithuanians on a level playing field. The festival's championed composers were Terry Riley and Francesco Filidei, two glorious composers indeed and it was a particular joy to witness Francesco Dillon performing Filidei's 'Ogni Gesto d'Amore' such a beautiful work indeed. Out of the Lithuanians being premiered in the festival, two composers particularly stood out for me.

 Juste Janulyte's 'Radiance' for choir and electronics is probably the single most purified rendition of her monochromatic work. The intensity and beauty was second to none, and I have discovered it will be performed in Klaipeda in September so need to run to the sea for that! The other glorious work was Ricardas Kabelis's 'Bole LT', the work for string orchestra and electronics was profoundly intense. The pulsing cluster was dark and powerful. The hypnotic sensation was mind-bending, and then the sudden appearance of 'Bolero' was a true mark of artistic insanity. As I said in the review of the concert, whether you liked it as an audience member doesn't matter, the simple fact everyone was affected shows it was one of the most profound pieces of art in the festival, and for me, throughout the year.

JAUNA MUZIKA - Another important festival within Lithuania is JAUNA MUZIKA, the festival is dedicated to electronic music and is another dedicated festival promoting Lithuanians on par with composers from across the world. A particular highlight of the festival for me was the Art Vio Quartet's performance within the festival. Two works from the concert stole my heart.

Marius Baranauskas's 'Delta Cephi' was a profoundly colourful work for cello and tam-tam. The sonorous melody of the cello combined with the shimmers and scraps of the tam-tam made for a profound work, full of creative and powerful interplay between two instruments. The sheer capacity and ingenuity of the work could rival any work for cello and orchestra, a joy to behold and hopefully I can get hold of a recording of it. Another work that affected me profoundly was Diana Cemeryte's 'Les essais c'est tout II'. The work for strings, percussion and electronics was full of subtle nuances and gestures and the poetic interaction of the ensemble was elegant throughout. Thankfully the recording of the work is on Soundcloud so enjoy!

Melos Kamerinis Moteru Choras Debut - My year wasn't just full of elegant new music festivals, I also had the joy of witnessing new ensembles try to define themselves in the music scene. The most successful one, for me, was Melos Kamerinis Moteru Choras. This all female choir had the sheer audacity to perform new works from young composers from across the world. The premieres of works by Juta Pranulyte, Matas Drukteinis, Monika Sokaite, Nathan James Dearden, Sarah Rimkus, and Monika Szpyrka were a joy to behold, but for me the greater joy came from the sheer brilliance of the ensemble. This is a highly talented ensemble with the bravery to work with upcoming composers with such gusto and bravado has to be celebrated for the great thing it really is. 

Vytautas Bacevicius - Alongside many wonderful concerts, I also was able to come across scores, or gain a deeper knowledge of glorious gems hidden within the Baltic state. One of those composers was Vytautas Bacevicius. A composer whose imagination and harmonic dare rivals the likes of Scriabin and Messiaen. His Zodis (Mots) are a collection of seven works for keyboard instruments which gave Bacevicius a space to define his own development on his own terms. The seventh mots for two pianos, for me, is the most elegant example of it. The interplay of the two instruments within this elegantly constructed landscape is just magnificent. Definitely a series of works I need to know more deeply, from a composer I cannot wait to know even more about.

Vytautas Montvila - Before moving to Lithuania, I was vaguely aware of the work of Vytautas Montvila. The small knowledge I had of his blew my mind. A music that juxtaposes native folk melodies alongside gut-wrenching harmonies and sonoristic splendour can only be celebrated for the genius it is. During my time in Vilnius I was able to get a wider knowledge of his work, discovering his modestly skilled piano works like 'Miragen' or 'Sutartines' or other monolithic works like 'Chorai' or 'Sventine poema' have been nothing but a joy. Be prepared to find more articles about him from me.

For me another joy to behold has been discovering young talent within Vilnius. As Lithuania is in a wonderfully catalytic moment in its history, the younger composers are full of energy, desire, and imagination to run into new and to redefine themselves as a nation. For me there have been some really talented composers here are just two of them:

Karolina Kapustaite - In short, I have loved everything I have heard from this composer. Her sheer imagination, combined with a brutal directness means every work hits you hard. For me the strongest works I have heard from her, were her string orchestra work which was premiered in Druskomanija '16 as well as her intensive work 'No Title' for piano, magnets and multiple performers. The exploration of colours simply stunned me and it is a joy to be able to listen to her works on soundcloud over and over again.

Jura Elena Sedyte - Stunned me with her work for saxophone quartet performed by Katarsis4 in Druskomanija '16. The work was simply and profound violent. The slow growth and evolution of the music was magnificent, starting from little murmurings and squeaks before evolving into screams and roars. I look forward to see more from her.

This year has been glorious, I cannot wait to see what the next year will bring me. 

Grazio dienos!   

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