1 January 2017

Interview - Andrius Maslekovas

So here we are, 2017, who knows what on earth is in store for the following year. To add more to this blog I thought it was about time to start interviewing composers to introduce them in a more direct manner. So here is our first composer; Andrius Maslekovas. Throughout my years of dealing with the Baltic Andrius has been a composer of the periphery of my work. His work has been an interesting development to observe for multiple reasons, most significantly because he seems to epitomise native Lithuanian concerns, but also because he work seems to be leading him to quite an original path indeed. 

A pupil of Raminta Serksnyte, Andrius's work has had a massive fascination with sonoristic music and the possible avenues available to it. The most significant obsession has been within aritculating and gesturing in a sonoristic landscape, an endeavour which he pursued for his doctoral studies. As he is still a rather 'young' composer I don't wish to pigeonhole him too soon, but I am more than keen to see how he continues to develop as a composer. Without any further ado here is the interview:

As the newest doctor to flower in the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, I thought that gave me a great excuse to turn to you as my first interviewee. I have been very familiar with your work for multiple years now, but for those less familiar can you describe your musical output?

I am very pleased to be the very first interviewee in what seems to be a start of a big great series. It is an honour.
You are starting this interview with a very difficult question (j). If it was possible for me to thoroughly describe my musical output in a verbal form, I don’t think I would be composing music. In my music I usually try to grasp some impressions with my other four senses (taste, sight, touch, smell) and transform it to some kind of aural depiction. It is evident in the titles of my compositions, e.g. The Moments of White Transparency, for violin and piano, Incantation of the Freezing Haze for flute solo, Dissipating Fragrances for violin and accordion etc. In order to achieve that I usually rely on what I call an “articulation of sound quality” which encompasses a heavy and strategic use of timbres, extreme dynamics, precise articulations, specific rhythmical figures that enhance the perception of sound quality, etc. I really liked how my artistic supervisor Raminta Šerkšnytė described my music, she called it a Calligraphical Sonorism. In fact,  sometimes I even employ principles of painting and calligraphy in particular. These principles are evident in such compositions as Calligraphies of the Last Rays for clarinet viola and piano, Winter Calligraphies  for symphony orchestra, Sand Paintings for symphony orchestra, Three Canvasses of Anthracite Coloured Water for 16 strings, etc.

Could you tell us which composers you draw upon within your own work?
There are quite a few composers whose music I find very interesting and who admittedly made a significant influence on my musical style and way of thinking. To mention a few: Toru Takemitsu (especially his music for GAGAKU orchestra, and symphonic pieces), Toshio Hosokawa, Johannes - Maria Staud, Matthias Pintscher, Kaija Saariaho, George Crumb, Martinş Viļums. And here I also have to mention my former professor Marius Baranauskas, whose ouvre was a big inspiration for me even before I started my composition studies. I think I was really lucky to have him as my composition teacher.

As your doctoral thesis was dedicated towards sonorism, what were the discoveries you made during your research?

The thesis is called "Structural and Prestructural Compositional Aspects of Sonoristic Music". It is based upon a hypothesis that structural processes of this music are dependent on certain prestructural aspects, such as particularities our perceptual mechanism, mental sound processing, manifestations of Gestalt principles within different sound parameters, as well as personality type and a unique compositional paradigm. In this thesis I discuss all of these aspects, develop a new analytical approach based on articulation of sound quality and uncover the compositional principles of operating this unique dimension.
I found within your music an interesting clarity and modesty about it, what elements of your compositional process do you believe produces this clarity?

Clarity and modesty... I never heard anyone to describe my music like that. But when I think of it... I guess you're right.  I don't think there is a special technique to add these qualities to your music. I guess they are naturally there, as any kind of music is a reflection of the composers personality. I don't claim to be the most modest person in the world, but maybe that is hidden somewhere deep in my subconsciousness (j).

What are you working on at the minute? And what works are you hoping to create in the future?
At the moment I'm taking a much needed vacation from any creative activities and I don'thave any particular upcoming compositions on my mind. I am open to any commisions and suggestions though... Anyone?

And to round off, let’s do a good ol’ Desert Island Discs which 5 pieces could you not live without?

I'm not a type of person who's always listening to the music, but if I could take 5 pieces to a desert island, I think it would be Rain Tree by Toru Takemitsu, Vertical Song I by Toshio Hosokawa, Apeiron by Johannes Maria Staud and  the last two spots would be for two pieces of my own, can’t pick my favourites just yet (j)… 

For me personally, what has been most curious with Andrius's development is the juxtaposition that has sprouted. In his work Winter Calligraphies the piece has a fascination to and fro between the choir and the orchestra, as well as a fascinating juxtaposition between rich textural gestures and almost modal harmonies. For me this most recent work stands as a testament of where Andrius could evolve as a composer. The rich rolling tectonics of the orchestra crossed with almost 'traditional' choral writing makes for a hypnotic world. His understanding of harmony really compliments and embellishes his fine ear for orchestral colour. His earlier works have always been very direct in their intentions but arguably have been a bit thin, when compared to this work for large orchestra you can see just how aware Andrius is of musical architecture and how it is going to further him in the future. His other works are available on soundcloud, and I do recommend people giving it a listen.

Firstly congratulations again to the now Dr. Andrius Maslekovas, and lets see where his music will take us in the coming years. 

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