EVENTS. Druskomanija 2008: Always the New Beginning

It is due to that consequential concert at the M. K. Čiurlionis Memorial Museum in Druskininkai on May 10th, 1985, that the Druskomanija Festival (Youth Chamber Music Days in Druskininkai), which will take place for the 24th time in May this year, is justly referred to as the oldest contemporary music festival in Lithuania. Over the years, the developed ‘format’ of its programmes, including traditional concerts at the Druskininkai Church, on the Liškiava mound and the open FREE event, has been presented as true ‘non-format’ events every year. And this should not be a surprise, since it is here, in this geographically (and not only) marginal environment, that the experimental ideas get the centre of attention and their authors, often still studying the art and craft of music, make their first creative steps.

The names of the young composers, coming up with the most unexpected ideas each time, assure that the festival’s latest ‘graduate class’ will appear as intriguing as the preceding one. While the internationally acclaimed performers guarantee precision in the interpretation of their graduation works, which is, perhaps, one of the most valuable achievements of this festival. Numerous participants of this year’s festival will include the Chordos String Quartet, Lithuanian Flute Quartet, St. Christopher’s Woodwind Quartet, Vilnius Bassoons, Jauna Muzika Choir and the festival’s mainstay – St. Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra under Prof. Donatas Katkus. In the past several years the festival has been drawing international participants as well, who come to the southernmost town of Lithuania to present their new works from Norway, Latvia, Romania, Italy, Finland, Chile, France and Holland. This year we are going to listen to the premieres by the young composers from Portugal, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Austria and Russia.

Having all started from a single concert more than twenty years ago, the Druskomanija festival now extends to four days and two cities, promising a spectacular panorama of the young artists’ experiments.

© Albertas Navickas

Lithuanian Music Link No. 16

Thursday 22 May, Vilnius

ART WEB: Session 1. The young music scholars have also found their niche at the festival, organising an international conference that has become an inseparable part of the event. The invited lecturers, guests and students of the Lithuanian Theatre and Music Academy will analyse the key issues of today’s art.

VILNIUS BASSOONS. For the festival’s opening, the Vilnius Bassoons ensemble (Šarūnas Kačionas, Artūras Mikoliūnas, Karolis Vaitiekūnas and Arūnas Zujus) prepares a mélange of acoustic, electronic and video projects by the young Lithuanian composers and guests from Austria and the UK.

LIVE ELECTRONICS IMPROVISATION. A final composition-improvisation by the participants of the Live Electronics Studio workshop, presented by Prof. Elio Martusciello (Italy) on May 19–20 to the students of composition (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) and members of the Vilnius Bassoons ensemble.

Friday 23 May, Vilnius

ART WEB: Session 2. Papers by professors and students of the Lithuanian art schools.

Friday 23 May, Druskininkai

TROMBONE BEAT. The trombone quartet (Egidijus Miknius, Rimas Valančius, Marius Balčytis ir Vygantas Šilinskas), formed especially for the occasion and accompanied by the percussionist Tomas Kulikauskas, will present their debut programme “Trombone Beat,” featuring works by the young composers from Lithuania, Austria and Italy.

SYNTHESIA. The evening will open with the performance of Eglė Sirvydytė and her group, which is currently winning increasing attention among the young audiences with her bard-style performances fusing the elements of jazz, Lithuanian folklore and Far Eastern melodies. For the second year in a row, the festival welcomes Andris Dzenītis’ experimental group Woodpecker Project from Latvia, to be followed by the joint project of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian Writers’ Unions “Synthesia” that brings together poets, composers and video artists for the most unexpected collaborations.

Saturday 24 May, Druskininkai

ART WEB: Session 3. Papers and discussion by the young composers from Italy, Austria, UK and Latvia about the cultural issues of contemporary music.

ORCHESTRAL PREMIERES. A programme of bachelor’s diploma works by the graduates of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and the works by invited Italian and British composers, performed by the St. Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra under Donatas Katkus, is one of the festival’s key points of attraction both to the music lovers and professionals, as an event most thoroughly unveiling the debutants’ works.

NOA FESTIVAL ON TOUR. The “New Opera Action (NOA)” festival, organised for the first time in Vilnius in March this year, has presented the premieres of four new short operas, produced as spontaneous collaborations between various young artists. On their first tour in Druskininkai, the four productions will reveal the field of activity still unseen at Druskomanija.

FREE. After dark, the emerging Lithuanian and foreign popular music stars will rise and shine! The evening’s programme will include the appearances of 2good (Lithuania), Lord Byron e le Sue Amiche Ruspe (Italy) and DJ Vytukas (Lithuania).

Sunday May 25, Liškiava

THE SUBTLE TRIO. The trio (Rita Mačiliūnaitė, Tomas Bieliauskas and Aistė Bružaitė) formed at the festival’s commission will present new works by Lithuanian composers for mezzo-soprano, oboe and electric kanklės – an instrument specially crafted for this occasion. The programme will also feature the Reliquary, a work specially composed for the festival by Šarūnas Nakas, one of the first participants of the Youth Chamber Music Days in Druskininkai.

THE FLOATING SECOND. The festival will close on the way back to Druskininkai by the motor ship up the Nemunas River, which is also one of the most cherished traditions. This time the trip will be accompanied by the timeless sutartinės music: as if in a floating second, the festival will take a look back, into the past, and draw its future prospects.