11 November 2017

Lithuanian composers winning prizes

On the 10th November, the Lithuanian Composers' Union had their awards again. For those who have been reading the blog long enough, will probably remember my thoughts about the previous ceremony. There were many interesting changes of circumstances this time. Firstly from my own point of view, I had the joy of witnessing almost all the shortlisted works, and the works which won I did see their premieres. This was also the first award ceremony under the new leadership of Mykolas Natalevicius. So I was particularly fascinated to see how this would influence the choice of winners.

This year, there were three winners Juste Janulyte, Vytautas Germanavicius, and Dominykas Digimas. I have to say I was overall thrilled by the choices. There is a diversity and in general I was overjoyed to see the composers getting the recognition they deserve.
Juste Janulyte's Harp Is A Chord was awarded for the Chamber category. As I mentioned in my review from the premiere, the work was astounding. I loved the interaction between the disparate instruments and both performers Goska Isphording (Harpsichord) and Maciej Frackiewicz (Accordion) seemed naturally built for such a performance. Well done to all involved!

Dominykas Digimas's no sense was awarded in the 'Youth' or 'Young Composer' (depending on how literal or archaic you are when you translate) category. This was another premiere I got to witness. I was, and still am extremely eager about the work. The sense of focus, and compositional construction was very well written, especially for a student. The performance by the St. Christopher's Orchestra, under the well crafted arm of Donatas Katkus was astounding. With this particular category, I was intrigued by how they went about deciding the winner. Ultimately if it was based purely on the string orchestra concert I would have hated to have been on that panel. All three works by Dominykas, Karolina Kapustaite, and 
Gabrielius Simas Sapiega were works of an extremely high quality. So all parties were equally deserving, but regardless. Many congratulations to Dominykas Digimas!

The final choice Vytautas Germanavicius, his PovandeninÄ— geometrija for saxophone and orchestra was premiered in the opening night of Gaida Festival 2016. I was overjoyed in the night, due to it being my birthday, witnessing a concert with Kurtag in, and it was the start of a festival that I find extremely exciting. I sadly was not sold on Germanavicius's piece. Which is a shame, considering how strong his chamber compositions are. Admittedly, I hardly expected to truly agree with every piece in an awards ceremony, but I am very pleased by the 2/3 this time around.

I'd be amiss not to mention the pieces I wished were more positively celebrated. Two premieres I was particularly enthusiastic about were Ramunas Motiekaitis's X Cikliai for accordion, strings, and percussion. The murmurs and shimmers of the work was divine and the atmosphere was inspired. Arguably my favourite work by an under celebrated composer. The other work I wish gained more recognition here was Commentum by Vyktinas Baltakas. The work was an adaptation of a cello and piano duo of the same name. The newly orchestrated version was not just a simple orchestration. The work explored and expanded on the ideas within the duo and coloured beautifully within the orchestra. The premiere performed by Francesco Dillon was particularly brilliant and the orchestra managed to bring out the conversational charm of the music. Enjoy the wonderfully produced video of the premiere below. 

To conclude, very well done to all winners, and best of luck to future competitors!

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