Jurgutis and Narvilaitė Pioneer a Swedish-Lithuanian Exchange

"Listening to this music in stereo is like watching black and white television.", says Vytautas V. Jurgutis. He is referring to his new computer composition Alpha 10, commissioned by the Swedish Rikskonserter, and carried out at the new electro-acoustic "Alpha" music studio at the International Centre for Composers in Visby. "The studio has high quality surround, and produces such a perfect sensation of the movement of sound that one can sense those intervals of sound space which Stockhausen spoke of. Therefore one needs good listening facilities for this work," - is the composer's prudent comment regarding the premiere of his latest composition at the "Jauna muzika" festival, taking place this April. His misgivings seem unfounded: the flood of events coming out of an albeit imperfect sound system is staggering in terms of the experience of the intensity of moving sound, and of the relationship between space and time which evokes such a multi-dimensional sense of waving. "My original intent was to write a purely computerized work, with no special acoustic effects. I think that getting an interesting and plastic sound from a computer is much more difficult than using specially recorded acoustic elements," claims Jurgutis, who is an adherent of a pure style.

His work at the Visby International Centre for Composers, and this commission, are the first step in an ongoing programme of exchanges between the Swedish Rikskonserter and various Lithuanian music institutions during 2002-2003. The strategy is one of long-term co-operation in building bridges between the music cultures of both countries, with a versatile and completely informal content which encourages creativity, shares know-how, and exchanges interesting performers and composers. Up-coming plans this year also include the best from Sweden in live-electronics and multimedia at the "Jauna muzika" festival, a Lithuanian piece commissioned by Rikskonserter for the Swedish ensemble Kairos, which plays new music on old instruments, and comprehensive texts, such as a catalogue in Swedish, written by Göran Bergendal, on Lithuanian composers. To sum up, it is definitely an exceptional undertaking.

Composer Loreta Narvilaitė joined Vytautas V. Jurgutis for the entire month in Visby; she presented her works, and held seminars on Lithuanian music. Narvilaitė's latest work - Visby-Bike for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano - also emerged at the International Centre for Composers. It was proposed by The Tate Ensemble, and is due to premiere on May 20 at the New Recital Hall at the Royal Academy of Music in London. According to the composer, "it is expressive music, full of the contrasts, surprises, and the pleasures which I experienced during an inspiring month on the island of Gotland," and deliberately adds, "...but it also has Lithuanian moments."

Visby also inspired a second piece, for flute and percussion, entitled Nightingales in the Rain, which Narvilaitė is writing for the "Musa incognita. East-West" festival, taking place in Vilnius in May. "The title of the work corresponds to the real name of the Japanese poet, Saigio - Sato Norikijas. Saigio means "going West," says Narvilaitė. "To my mind, flute and percussion are a very Eastern combination. The flute also symbolizes a feminine element, while percussion instruments are basically masculine. We'll see what sort of 'infant' their 'marriage' produces - in the spring when the nightingales sing..."

© Daiva Parulskienė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 4