In the Eye of the 15th Gaida

New experiences arising from surprising encounters of divergent music worlds, of tradition and innovation, of the 'serious' and the 'entertaining' are pictured in the eye of this year's Gaida festival. During more than two intense weeks from October 12th to 28th its 15th edition will present to the public a programme of 12 concerts, including orchestral and chamber performances of many newly written and well-known works by finest local and international musicians; two projects of music theatre – One serious and the other rather not; a piano recital that brings together the inspired efforts of two exceptionally talented Lithuanian musicians; and limit-breaking projects, where the reckless 20th century avant-garde meets warped 21st-century electronica, and the academic composers are geared towards the Academy's big band.

An exceptional feature of Gaida 2005 is an impressive panorama of 20th century classics of different trends and fields – from Igor Stravinsky to Frank Zappa, from Edgard Varèse to Kaija Saariaho, from John Cage to Aphex Twin. The premieres of works by Lithuanian composers (Šarūnas Nakas, Justė Janulytė and Marius Baranauskas) are going to sound like intriguing unknowns in the fine-tuned programmes of Windkraft Tirol (Austria), Quasar Saxophone Quartet (Canada) and Les temps modernes Lyon (France). Mounting the pulpit of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra to conduct works by three mistresses of orchestral might (Kaija Saariaho, Onutė Narbutaitė and Raminta Šerkšnytė) will be the Spaniard Ernest Martinez-Izquierdo.

As many as four orchestras (including the Big Band of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian National and State Symphony Orchestras) are going to represent the local performers of contemporary music whose quantity and quality have grown considerably in recent years. Not to mention the seasoned soloists, like the spinto baritone Vytautas Juozapaitis, the radiant pianist Andrius Žlabys, and new repertoire stalkers of the Gaida Ensemble.

Continuing the line of music theatre of the last year's festival, which has stirred an ethusiastic public and critical response, two chamber operas will be shown this year – as different as their authors, the 20th century classic Igor Stravinsky and the 21st century Dutch star Michel van der Aa, though both of them deal with mixed or lost identities. Stravinsky's short opera buffa Mavra (1921-2) juggles with conventions of Russian and Italian operas, sentimental and 'cruel' romances, and masquerade drama. While Michel van der Aa's chamber opera One for soprano, video and soundtrack (2002) is a new type of multimedia drama where video images, live and recorded sound impeccably blend to form a portrait of a woman who has completely lost herself (perf. Barbara Hannigan).

"The beginnings of a quiet musical revolution" (Daily Telegraph) are scheduled for the opening concert of Gaida 2005 on October 12, which features a unique and extremely successful project of British artists, "WARP Works and 20th Century Masters", joining the forces of the London Sinfonietta and WARP Records. Exploring the parallels that exist between some of the world's most exciting musicians from electronic and contemporary classical music worlds, this concert juxtaposes the pioneering works by Cage, Nancarrow, Ives and Ligeti with live performance of WARP star Mira Calix and acoustic versions of her comrades in IDM – Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.

Gaida continues the tradition of presenting a guest composer. This year it is one of the world's foremost women composers – Kaija Saariaho. The attention that she is going to receive will satisfy even the most demanding audience: a wide panorama of her work, meetings, screening of her opera L'amour de loin and the acquaintance with the composer's favourite performers – cellist and conductor Anssi Karttunen, flutist Camilla Hoitenga and soprano Pia Freund.

And, of course, the necessary feature of Gaida – Lithuanian music and its discoveries: from piano works by the visionary of cosmic music Vytautas Bacevičius to the hottest premieres composed especially for the festival by Bronius Kutavičius, Feliksas Bajoras, Osvaldas Balakauskas, Rytis Mažulis, Arvydas Malcys, Vytautas Germanavičius and Diana Čemerytė, among others. As usual, a large part of the Lithuanian programme consists of works commissioned by the Gaida Festival.

© Eglė Gudžinskaitė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 11