The opening concert of the festival, titled “A Year with Kutavičius,” is dedicated to the 80th anniversary of one of the leading personalities in contemporary Lithuanian music – Bronius Kutavičius. Without any attempts at startling or shocking effects, this composer was his own man from the very start and continued to walk his won path to this very day. His radical works were heavily misjudged and criticised at the time, often being accused for not being “music at all.” This reproach, however, was quite close to the truth, since Kutavičius drew inspiration from the areas far removed from that of music – such as language, rituals, old architecture, and Lithuanian textile ornaments. Like an archaeologist he reconstructed the pre-historic, forgotten layers of the archaic culture, exposing them to our eyes and ears.
The concert will feature Kutavičius’ oratorio Seasons after the eponymous poem by Kristijonas Donelaitis. The cycle consists of four parts: “Joys of Spring,” “Summer Toils,” “Autumn Wealth,” and “Winter Cares.” “Stones, clay whistles, a bow, or a straw pipe would suit Donelaitis more…” says the composer, opting for a symphony orchestra for the depiction of the first part of the Seasons. According to musicologist Linas Paulauskis, “it seems that with this work the composer returns to his roots – only this time without the folk music stylisations – reaching to the very core, to the music as primeval and elemental as it can be, like the sun which shines, the snow which melts and the life that awakens.” In the other parts of the oratorio, folk instruments and even work implements complement the sound of the classical instruments and choral voices.
The unique opus by Kutavičius will be performed by the St Christopher Chamber Orchestra and the Klaipėda Choir Aukuras (artistic director Alfonsas Vildžiūnas), with Donatas Katkus conducting. Actor Darius Meškauskas will convey the beauty of Donelaitis’ hexameters on the background of Kutavičius’ minimalist structures. This repetitive music will build up towards highly intense dramaticism, and the composer will certainly manage to make the audience feel “bowled over with sounds.”
Pianist Lukas Geniušas and the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra under Martynas Staškus will present the programme of works by Paul Hindemith titled “Concordant and Temperamental.” At the age twenty two, Geniušas is currently studying at the Moscow P. Tchaikovsky Conservatory and garnering prizes at the important competitions. In his repertoire we can encounter pieces whose masterful rendition is not easily achievable even to the accomplished pianists. Ludus tonalis by Hindemith can be numbered among such works which seem to be undeservedly forgotten, unpopular and rarely performed, despite the fact that it is interesting to listen to: “it is ideal and one of the best 20th century works for piano.” The first part of the concert will demonstrate the interpretation of this masterpiece that will help reveal the young pianist’s prowess.
The second part of this concert will feature Hindemith’s orchestral music performed by Lukas Geniušas and the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra under the artistic direction of Mindaugas Bačkus. During the two decades of its existence the orchestra has always striven for the harmonious blend and quality of sound. The broad stylistic range of its concert repertoire has been recently updated with several monographic programmes. At the same time the list of the world renowned soloists and conductors with whom the orchestra has given performances has expanded as well. The orchestra’s artistic director, who demands excellent artistic results both in rehearsals and on the concert stage, asserts “a way to perfection in truly endless.”
The appearance of the Kroumata percussion ensemble from Sweden is perhaps one of this festival’s greatest attractions. It is not only and ensemble but rather a phenomenon that has been making a direct influence on the trends in percussion music for more than thirty years. Renowned all over the world for its utmost precision and virtuosity, the ensemble has appeared both at the greatest concert halls and school assembly halls, demonstrating an inexhaustible ability to invent each time new formats and programmes. During its long and illustrious career, Kroumata, deriving its name from the ancient Greek term for all percussive instruments, has established its name on the international music market as an epitome of contemporary percussion music.
The concert “Drumming with Kroumata” will commemorate the centennial of John Cage who happens to be the inspirer of the Music of Changes festival, and thus provide one more opportunity to prove that “everything can be music.” The Swedish percussion quartet will use not only conventional and less conventional percussive instruments, but also various objects rarely seen and heard on concert stage. This concert will hold a lot more surprises for an unsuspecting audience. An impressive programme will start with György Ligeti’s Car Horn Prelude, proceed with Iannis Xenakis’s Okho and John Eriksson’s Träd (A Forest of Hands), which takes 8 hands to play one marimba, and end with Steve Reich’s Drumming which is likely to have an entrancing effect on the audience and drummers alike. The evening with the world’s leading masters of rhythm, rattle and rustle seems to promise loads of unforgettable impressions!
A concert presented by Rūta and Zbignevas Ibelhauptas piano duo will show them impersonating “Angels and Demons in Sound.” The acclaimed interpreters of contemporary music will unveil the mystic spaces of new music to their listeners. They will also pay homage to Bronius Kutavičius by performing his Robert’s Demons and Angels and the Debate with a Stranger. A piece SUTAPO by Gintaras Sodeika will echo with extraterrestrial sonorities, while pieces by Per Nørgård and George Crumb will demonstrate the duo’s boundless sensitivity to sound and commitment to the composers’ visions.
The programme “Silent music,” presented by the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, showcases contemporary music by Russian and Ukrainian composers. An idea to organise such showcase belongs to Mindaugas Bačkus, artistic director of the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, who invited Russian conductor Mark Kadin to prepare this programme with the orchestra. As a result, it has solidified into a stylistically diverse panorama, comprising compositions by Dmitry Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov, and Iraida Yusupova. This music abounds with serious and sensuous, theatrical, comic and ironic moments.
For instance, in Schnittke’s Moz-Art à la Haydn we will hear the fragment from Mozart’s piece for a pantomime and see the variation on Haydn’s concept for the Farewell Symphony. Many other ciphered meanings and symbols will be hidden behind the concepts of both composers and performers; so the listeners will have to rely on their imagination and wit.
The formula “2+2+1” reads as a combination of instruments to be featured at the festival’s closing concert: two pianists, two percussionists, and a violin. Among the performers we will meet again the phenomenal piano virtuoso Alexander Paley (USA) who has recently finished the series of complete Mozart concerti presented together with the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra. This time the pianist will appear solo, in a duo with his pianist wife Pei-Wen Chen (USA), in a quartet with percussionists Pavel Giunter (Lithuania) and Stanisław Skoczyński (Poland), and even in a quintet with all and violinist Zbigniev Levicki (Lithuania). This programme, initiated by Paley, will provide an opportunity to explore the less known territories of contemporary music, along with the premiere of a new piece by Loreta Narvilaitė.
Among the works featured in the programme is the Septième mot for two pianos by Vytautas Bacevičius, of which Paley spoke with reverence: “It is a truly masterful piece written with a good knowledge of piano possibilities.” The pianist plans to include more Bacevičius’ pieces into his repertoire.
The final piece in this closing programme is BélaBartók’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion, described by Paley as “a 20th century musical masterpiece.” In Bartók’s Sonata, the piano, contrary to its Romantic image as a singing instrument, is mostly treated as a percussive instrument.
For the eighth year in a row the Music of Changes Festival offers its audiences what is best, worthwhile and true in contemporary art. Every autumn, along with the dropping semiquavers of rain and the wind singing amidst concrete blocs, this festival intervenes and changes the sonic environment of the city. The bracing passages of the Music of Changes are already running across the keyboard, making the strings vibrate, and inviting to open up for the changes and new experiences. Come along!