Raminta Šerkšnytė first appeared as a vivid presence on the Lithuanian musical scene in the last decade of the last century and has up till now successfully maintained her position as one of the best known Lithuanian composers of recent times. In her creative work the language of postromantic music combines in a way that is individual to her with certain stylistic features of (post)minimalism, jazz, and the avant-garde. From her very first pieces, the composer's music surprised one by its intense emotional expression and rationally composed structures, the one in harmony with the other, with her mastery of form and instrumentation, with an intricate cobweb of rhythmic textures and an instinctive feel for harmony, resulting in the unusually strong artistic impression left by her work. The main sources for the composer's inspiration are the broad spectrum of psychological states and certain musical archetypes: ranging from calm, meditative (Aurei Regina Caeli), mysterious, mystical (Misterioso), nostalgic, melancholic (Adieu) to dramatic expression (Sūkurys 'Vortex') and outbursts of vital energy (Idée Fixe). On the other hand, many of her compositions remind one of picturesque musical landscapes, inspired by an exalted reflection on nature (Aisbergas 'Iceberg Symphony', Rytų elegija 'Oriental Elegy', Kalnai migloje 'Mountains in the Mist', Žara 'Glow', Vasarvidžio giesmė 'Midsummer Song', Ugnys 'Fires').
Vortex - Vortex
zoom in 3: new music from Lithuania - Oriental Elegy. Lament
St.Christopher Chamber Orchestra - De profundis
Juozas Rimas. Lithuanian Auletics - Adieu
zoom in 5: new music from Lithuania - Mountains in the Mist
Raminta Šerkšnytė (b. 1975) graduated from the Kaunas Juozas Naujalis Music School in 1994, having specialised in piano (under Rymantė Šerkšnytė), composition and music theory. In 2000 she completed her Master's degree in composition at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre under Prof. Osvaldas Balakauskas; she also participated in a number of master classes in composition given by Louis Andriessen, Helmut Lachenmann, Pascal Dusapin, among others, in various European countries.
In 2008 Raminta Šerkšnytė was the recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize, awarded for achievements in culture and the arts. In 2011 she was the laureate of the composition competition Coup de Coeur des Jeunes Musiciens (Monaco). In 2005 and 2011 her compositions Vortex and Midsummer Song became recommended works at the International Rostrum of Composers organised by UNESCO in Vienna. Amongst her other important prizes are: first place at the Juozas Gruodis Composers' Competition (1995), the Golden Cross of the Stage Lithuanian Composers' Union (as theatre composer of the year, 2005); finalist at the Gaudeamus Competition (Amsterdam, 2005); three-time prize winner in the best composition of the year competition organised by the Lithuanian Composers' Union (2003, 2006 ir 2012).
Both as a composer and a pianist (performing her own work) Raminta Šerkšnytė regularly takes part in contemporary music events. Her music, performed by the orchestra Kremerata Baltica, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Mariss Jansons, the violinist Irvine Arditti and the Arditti Quartet, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, and other musicians, has been heard throughout Europe, as well as in Asia, North and South America, and Australia in concert halls, such as the Wiener Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Lincoln Center (New York), and elsewhere. Raminta Šerkšnytė's works have been presented at many festivals, among them, ISCM World New Music Days (Zagreb, Hong Kong, Vilnius, Ghent, Tongyeong), Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), Klangspuren Schwaz (Austria), and the Vilnius Gaida festival.
The composer has always been concerned with finding her own solutions as regards musical form and mastering the flow of musical time (so the composition would from the very beginning draw one into its field of suggestion to avoid any dramatically insignificant moments), with forming her own harmonic language (it is, as it were, 'non-traditional tonality', often based on the simultaneous coexistence of major and minor), with understanding the various aspects of instrumentation (according to the composer herself, she itches, like a watercolourist, with the desire to elicit the widest range of sound shades).
Her Oriental Elegy for string quartet written in 2002 with its unexpected break in style surprised many of her listeners, who had already for a long time been following her work and her development: up to till then the lush postromantic soundscapes that had been dominant in her music were replaced by a complicated (but emotional, perhaps even more affective) musical expression - with aleatorics, microtonality, clusters, and the abundance of new techniques in playing. Lately, in many of her works the composer creatively and seamlessly combines both the postromantic and avant-garde directions in her work (Vortex for solo violin and large ensemble, 2014; Migdolų žydėjimas 'Almond Blossom' for chamber ensemble, 2006). 'Mastery of her subject is what is characteristic of this Lithuanian-born pianist and composer,' wrote the music critic Helmut Mauró in Süddeutsche Zeitung, the most influential daily newspaper in Southern Germany, 'even if she uses forms found in minimalism, late romanticism or jazz, an individual language is created out of foreign words, a dramatic act out of separate emotions, Baltic mysticism out of melancholia.'
The composer admits that right from her Oriental Elegy an Oriental aesthetic has become every closer to her. This would help to explain some of the tendencies in her newest works: the repeated dramatic collisions, the 'subjective' emotional outpourings are slowly being replaced by the relatively 'objective' contemplation of the grandeur of nature and the inner world of human beings (as in the oratorio Saulėlydžio ir aušros giesmės 'Songs of Sunset and Dawn' for four soloists, choir and symphony orchestra, 2007; in part in the symphonic fantasy Mountains in the Mist, 2005). Whatever the case, it would be hard to guess at what path her creative work will take - she has never been tempted to repeat herself or to write according to previously 'tested' models. Setting herself constantly new goals with every composition, Raminta Šerkšnytė remains a composer who is both easily recognisable and yet never predictable.
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