14 October 2016

100 60 70 90 40 26 80 50 - GAIDA Festival Preview

After a much needed breather, I am ready to manically type once again. And what a time it is too! GAIDA Festival starts in just one week. For those who didn't see my excitable wittering about the festival last year, GAIDA is one of Lithuania's most significant festivals. This annual festival is particularly important because it is a great platform of cultural exchange. Every year many wonderful musicians from across the globe come to Vilnius to show their art, and in return the festival presents many fine natives on a level grounding as their international counterparts. Last year's festival was a great smorgasbord of contemporary music, with pretty much everything from Francesco Filidei to Terry Riley. I don't want to dwell too much on last year's festival as I am eager to discuss this year's events, but for those who want to see more look here

This year looks like an intriguing one for two major reasons. Firstly the sheer quantity of composer anniversaries that are being celebrated is astronomical! Celebrating Julius Juzeliunas's centenary, Gyorgy Kurtag's 90th, Steve Reich's 80th, Peteris Vasks and what would have been Gerard Grisey's 80th, Luce Francesconi's, Michael Gordon's and Thierry De May's 60th, Liza Lim and Zita Bruzaite's 50th as well as many people's 40th Birthdays! Each of these composers could easily have a week dedicated to each of them, so you can imagine how manic the week is going to be with pieces from all of these composers. On a side note, in the press conference yesterday, Remigijus Merkelys argued the reason they were celebrating GAIDA's 26th anniversary was because of the multitude of significant anniversaries that coincide with it; the only reason I point this out is I am rather chuffed to be celebrating my 26th on the exact same day as GAIDA! 

And back to the festival, there are many fine concerts that I will be attending, denying myself sleep and food to see these fine events. But here are some of my highlights! 

Where better to start than the beginning? The opening concert looks like a fine occassion indeed with works by Liza Lim, Vykintas Baltakas, Vytautas Germanavicius, and Gyorgy Kurtag. The inclusion of Baltakas's commentum for cello and orchestra will be a lovely thing to witness. Gyorgy Kurtag's Double Concerto also looks like a fine display for the senses. Have a sneaky peak at commentum for cello and piano below:

As always, the Lietuvos Ansambliu Tinklas (Lithuanian Ensemble Network) will be a wonderful event to see. The mix of repertoire is extremely distant from their concert last year, so I am curious to see how the ensemble tackles it. There are also two premieres by Vytautas V. Jurgutis and Anatolijus Senderovas, so it will be fascinating to see what they have to offer.

The next concert that fascinates me is the duo of Goska Isphording and Maciej Frackiewicz. The accordion and harpsichord duo, yes you heard, accordion and harpsichord. So part of my fascination with this particular concert is the curiosity of witnessing such a mismatched pair of instruments perform together. To further the curiosity the mix of repertoire seems to be as mixed up as the instrumentation with works by Grisey, Vasks, Steen-Anderson, and Janulyte. A really curious mix indeed.

The next day sees Pierre-Laurent Aimard coming to Vilnius, I am not going to waste your time and tell you what you all already know. Pierre-Laurent is amazing, and the concert will be astonishing. On the same day is the Slovak Quasars Ensemble, the repertoire looks like something I'd enjoy sinking my teeth into.

The following day is a concert simply named Quartettisimo, and when you see there are four quartets involved, the title becomes incredibly apt. The programming from the outside seems the most succinct with works by Juzeliunas, Zibuokle Martinaitye, Ramunas Motiekaitis, Vasks, Sodeika, Ruta Vitkauskaite, and Simon Steen-Anderson. The three premieres will be intriguing to witness. 

The appearance of Kronos Quartet, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich, needs no introduction. We know what we are going to hear and the musicians are a fine mix indeed. On the same day Reich makes his mark, the young whippersnappers Ensemble Synaethesis, will stamp their feet and dig in their heels and place themselves on par with these elder giants. The mix of repertoire is curious, I am curious to see if they can deliver, I know the have the energy and drive to, time will surely tell.

On the 29th will see the National Symphony Orchestra performing, with works by Philippe Manoury, Luca Francesconi, Zita Bruzaite, and Michael Gordon. I am curious to hear how this particular concert will pan out. Once again there are piano duos playing alongside the orchestra, so in theory this could be quite a bombastic affair.

So overall, as you can plainly see, I am very excited about this years platter of performances. Hopefully they will live up to my enthusiastic excitability, and if not I will still probably enjoy myself greatly. Once again, I am glad to see there is a huge variety in the pieces and composers on display. The organisers have managed not to fall into the trap of a 'festival sound' and show a wonderfully wide spectrum of pieces. You can see more detail about the concerts here on the festival's website.

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