It is no surprise that the name of the patriarch of Lithuanian professional music Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911) still marks the vital roots of the Lithuanian musical culture. Most Lithuanian musicians are educated in the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Arts, established in 1948, and the first public appearances of young composers and musicologists are held in Čiurlionis’ native town of Druskininkai, where the oldest Lithuanian contemporary music festival, Youth Chamber Music Days Druskomanija, the historical and contemporary value of which is unique, will take place for the 23rd time this year.
The festival’s history is considered to have begun with the single concert that took place on the 11th of May, 1985, in Čiurlionis’ native home, when the works of Vidmantas Bartulis, Kęstutis Bieliukas, Rimantas Janeliauskas and Ričardas Kabelis were performed. Back then, such a ‘marginal’ concert was quite a brave enterprise. As reminiscences the musicologist Donatas Katkus: “The then students of the Vilnius Conservatory fled from the official establishment to Druskininkai, to the province, intoxicated by the sweetness of the unconventional behaviour, opposition to the established order. Western values, freedom and sense of one’s own community were by themselves a position that allowed to experience the meaning of one’s own creative efforts, throwing away the posh life of conformist art.”
By the way, in the 80’ies, next to the long-living Druskininkai festival other similar musical movements, rising next to the still-vegetating facade culture, came into being, but would soon fade away: the Creative Youth Days in Panevėžys and Vilnius, the Kaunas Alternative Music festivals, the workshop of happenings AN in Anykščiai. They were all connected by the need for a special interpersonal relationship, togetherness, as if coming back to a rite, a different and uncommonly intimate communication, which was fulfilled in all kinds of ways: crossing the boundaries of the ‘lecture-concert cliché of official musical events’ and the boundaries of music itself, realizing that a creative person has many ways and means to express the creative spirit. So one would listen not only to music, but to poetry, some presentations and discussions, there would be dancing, acting and all sorts of other actions and happenings. After the painting sessions that took place during the Youth Chamber Music Days in 1988 (musicologists, composers and performers painted on real canvases with real paints and real brushes, with the sounds of violin in the background), the festival’s organiser, composer Kęstutis Bieliukas explained that “we cannot communicate freely via the form of a sonata, a quartet, etc., via the attributes of our profession, because in there, everything is already shaped. Maybe one or two artists can communicate via their work... But when two clean canvases, two zeros meet, it’s already a chance for something to be born that cannot be observed and appreciated in music. It’s liberation.”
Once one is free from clichés, dogmas and conventions, one symbolically returns to childhood, remembers its characteristic form of communication and starts to... play. Even though academically trained musicians are sometimes reprimanded for being inappropriately infantile, everyone understands that this slightly shocking homo ludens is the most certain alternative to the homo sovieticus. Such multi-form and multi-genre collaboration may be the trademark of the Youth Chamber Music Days, the only form that it fits into. The festival revived the tradition of playing music, reading poetry and simply communicating in the circle of close friends.
After the restoration of independence, the Youth Chamber Music Days experienced a crisis: the oppositional spirit became anachronistic, there was no one to be bold against, other newly established contemporary music festivals (Gaida and Versija in Vilnius, Kopa and Marių klavyrai in Klaipėda) presented a competition. Talks started that the unique quality of the festival is dissolving. yet in reality a quite different process has begun. Like a real living organism, the festival is adapting to the changing circumstances, and its mission for today is no less important than twenty years ago.
The Druskomanija festival, organized by the Youth Section of the Lithuanian Composers’ Union, is usually the first stage for the composition and musicology students of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Musicologists not only get to read their presentations at the scientific conferences, but also prepare leafl ets and programme notes, and later review the performances. The composers get a chance to present their works to a wider audience and meet the best Lithuanian performers. Previously the festival has featured appearances of the Lithuanian Flute Quartet, the Chordos String Quartet, the Jauna muzika choir and others. The regularly participating St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra performs the BA works of the undergraduates.
Besides, since Druskomanija is an international event for several years already, the festival has included music and appearances by young composers from Norway, Italy, Spain and Finland. Besides the more academic standards, the participants play popular, rock, jazz and club music. The venues of the events have by far crossed the boundaries of closed spaces and for one weekend fill the whole Druskininkai resort with sounds and actions. The quiet streets are overrun with marching brass or percussion bands, the boat struggles to bring the crowds to listen to music at one of the most beautiful spots in Southern Lithuania – the Liškiava mound. The festival’s participants compete not only in concert halls, but also in the traditional football match Composers vs. All Other Stars.
© Justė Janulytė
Lithuanian Music Link No. 14
XXIII Youth Chamber Music Days in Druskininkai
May 25 - 27, 2007
Friday, 25 May
16.00 The seminar of young Lithuanian musicologists
M.K. Čiurlionis Memorial House
22.00 A few hours for electronic music
The electroacustic and multimedia projects of young composers from Lithuania, Latvia and the Netherlands
Saturday, 26 May
Piano works by the former Druskomanija organizers
M.K. Čiurlionis Memorial House
14.00 The Youngest Generation Presents: Works for String Orchestra
St. Cristopher Chamber Orchestra (cond. Donatas Katkus)
Holy Virgin Mary Church
16.00 Music for Woodwinds
The offerings for St. Cristopher Woodwinds Quintet
18.00 International Soccer Match
Lithuanian Composer vs. World Team
Old Town School Stadium
22.00 Free: Lithuanian Electronica
Pieno lazeriai, Brassbastardz, 2 Good
Sunday, 27 May
12.00 Boat trip to Liškiava Mound
13.30 Jauna muzika Choir at the Liškiava Holy Trinity Church
15.00 Return to Druskininkai