Jonas Tamulionis' Affections

photo: Dmitry Matveyev

For many years, the personality of Jonas Tamulionis (b. 1949) has been often associated with several signposts that signal direction of his creative work: Spain, guitar, accordion and choir. After falling in love with guitar early in his student years, he learned the Spanish language and eventually visited Spain where he nearly started believing in reincarnation. Jonas Tamulionis often expresses his passion for this country in diverse ways: he writes music for guitar, sets his vocal compositions to texts by Spanish poets, and participates at Spanish festivals and competitions where he has won no less than 5 first prizes for his choral compositions. Showy, high-spirited, and, often of very fast tempo, works by Tamulionis, commissioned by performers partaking in various competitions, have already become a certain trademark of the author. On the other hand, the composer remains true to polyphonic writing, contrastive development and neoclassical means of expression, and tries to stand to the happy medium. In his own words, "I avoid either overdoing saccharin or dooming an opus that is impossible to perform or listen to, to dust in the drawer."

Tamulionis expands the repertoire for guitar (11 preludes, Sonata for two guitars, Reversiones, cycle Hommage for Guitar) and accordion (Metamorphoses, Contrasts, Passacaglia for accordion orchestra, 10 etudes, Toccata diavolesca, etc) in an extremely prolific manner and has nearly monopolized this niché. The composer disregards a stereotype maintained by academic music practice, according to which these instruments are labelled as certain 'plebeians' among the others. Along with writing solo compositions for these instruments, Jonas Tamulionis also experiments combining them resourcefully with various settings. On November 12, 2002, the "Muzikos ruduo" festival in Vilnius saw the premiere of Concerto for two guitars and string orchestra (performed by guitarists Reinbert Evers, Wolfgang Weigel and St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra under Donatas Katkus). The premiere of its version for one guitar and symphony orchestra is already under preparation in Norway. Besides, Tamulionis' regular collaborator, German guitarist Reinbert Evers and Lithuanian flutist Valentinas Gelgotas work on the premiere of one of the latest opuses by the composer, Capriccio.

Nevertheless, his multilingual vocal music makes the largest part of over 260 positions on the list of works by Tamulionis. In his compositions, one can hear the influence of different languages to his musical expression; the author strives for the harmony between music and meaning and sound of a verbal text, employing diverse literary sources in Lithuanian, Spanish, German, Latin, French or even Old Japanese. One of the most interesting cases of Tamulionis' vocal music is Natus in curas for choir a cappella where the composer combines texts written in Latin and Old Japanese. On November 24, 2002, its premiere was performed in Tokyo Kosei-Nenkin Shinjuku Concert Hall by Waseda Gleeb Club choir consisting of 115 singers and conducted by Chifuru Matsubara. The latter will conduct the premiere of Jonas Tamulionis' Suite de los espejos (Suite of Mirrors, text by Federico García Lorca) for mixed choir and guitar performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Mixed Choir and guitarist Daisuke Suzuki on October 22 in Tokyo Metropolitan Small Hall. This emblematic example of music by Jonas Tamulionis combines love for Spain, guitar, choir and distant travels.

For quite a long time, the composer's frequent participation at international events and peculiar repertoire attracts attention of performers from different countries and music publishers as well. His works have been published by Karthause-Schmüling, Eres Edition, Islas Canarias, Orphée and Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Japanese publisher Ongaku no Tomo Sha Corp. plans to publish Natus in curas in November of this year. Recordings of his choral and instrumental compositions are featured on 18 CDs. Jonas Tamulionis' music travels around the world ceaselessly, within the range "from Ukraine to Uruguay", according to the eloquent title of one of the CDs with his compositions on it.

© Justė Janulytė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 7