Ten years of Gaida: 1991-2000

Since 1991 Gaida has been the biggest contemporary music festival in Lithuania hosted by the Lithuanian Composers' Union. In the first years of the restored Independence, its firm resolution to organize such festival was of great political as well as cultural significance. Despite the fact that due to international activities of Vytautas Bacevičius and Jeronimas Kačinskas, who belonged to the first generation of Lithuanian avant-garde composers, Lithuania joined the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) membership as early as in 1939, in the course of fifty years under Soviet rule Lithuanian musicians did not enjoy many opportunities to present contemporary music from Lithuania and abroad in a single event.

During the first decade Gaida established itself as the most important new music forum in Lithuania. Composers and musicologists of various generations were commissioned to form up the programs of the festival. The whole picture of new music as reflected by the festival was constantly changing according to the organizers. However, the entirely unique feature of the festival in the whole decade was its openness to music of all traditions, generations and geographic latitudes. Morton Feldman, Helmut Lachenmann, Meredith Monk, Alfred Schnittke, Luigi Nono, Krzysztof Penderecki, Per Nørgård, Karin Rehnqvist, Mauricio Kagel, Arvo Pärt, Kevin Volans, Wolfgang Rihm, Marc-André Dalbavie, Sofia Gubaidulina, Horatiu Radulescu, Frank Zappa - even if not complete, the list of composers, whose music was performed at the festival, yields in evidence that the organizers of Gaida are not inclined to give all their sympathies to some established new music centre or region.

The festival is by now the most important institution, shaping an image of new music and exerting influence on its creators in Lithuania. It endeavors to survey the most remarkable music by the 20th century's classics, innovators and oppositionists as well as to initiate new works and projects by Lithuanian composers. The bulk of compositions by the presently active authors (from Julius Juzeliūnas - the classic of Lithuanian modernism, born in 1916 - to the students of the Lithuanian Academy of Music) forms the core of festival's programs. No less intriguing are retrospective performances of some part of Lithuanian music, which was previously forgotten or suppressed due to ideological reasons.

The initiatives of Gaida have also contributed to development of performing traditions in the field of new music. The festival collaborates with all our new music performers, among them Vilnius New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Ex tempore, Vilnius String Quartet, St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra and others. Many international performers are also involved in the performance of new Lithuanian music.

This year the 10th Contemporary Music Festival Gaida undertook ten days marathon. The program featured performances of the elite new music groups Ensemble Modern (Germany) and Court-Circuit (France); a portrait concert of the German composer Wolfgang Rihm; French spectral composer Gérard Grisey; Bronius Kutavičius' opera The Bear, which became one of last season's sensations, and the intriguing 'Percussion Files'. Six new works by Nomeda Valančiūtė, Rytis Mažulis, Feliksas Bajoras, Vidmantas Bartulis, Šarūnas Nakas and Gintaras Sodeika were written on a commission of the festival.

Lithuanian Music Link No. 1