Ramūnas Motiekaitis: From the Black Square to Alba

"Here was the music", claimed Ramūnas Motiekaitis (b. 1976) by one of his first manifestos just after entering Lithuanian Academy of Music and starting composition studies with Prof. Osvaldas Balakauskas. Unequivocal inscription on the black square of paper in front of the startled board of examiners instead of a diligent homework was like a conceptual escapade that reminded the audience of the object of art being only a frame, 'time brackets' open to sounds, colours and moods beyond them. Or open to silence: "I admire silent music, silent enough to be drowned in street noises or extraneous sounds. It goes, reluctant of indicating any direction or dominating its environment. That's what attract me in Morton Feldman; his music contains a lot of stillness and focusing on one point, one chord. They flow into you without any efforts, like sounds of a forest or the sea."

photo: Raivydas Rukštelė

Ramūnas Motiekaitis' oeuvre is still very modest in scope, all of it is based on 'aesthetics of silent gestures'. That does not necessarily apply only to volume: on his scores, each, even the most microscopic process produces new meanings (or the meaninglessness of volition…). Similarly, a mask of Japanese Noh theatre acquires new meanings after giving it just a slight turn. This is especially clear in his early work the major part of which consists of the sequence of electronic opuses under the same title, Mobile. The author himself associates this cycle to the period of diverse eccentric 'inventions'. Here, the music often becomes the constituent of an audiovisual organism. The composer made his international debut at Musica ficta forum in Vilnius and ArtGenda Biennial in Stockholm, by several opuses (Mobilis inter signa, 1997; Phat, 1998) that balance on the line between genres of performance, happening and installation, and were created in collaboration with sculptor Eimantas Ludavičius. The soundtracks of these works do not lead anywhere and do not represent anything: "I minimize the possibilities provided by electronics while using it. I want to escape electronic devices that have already become "academic pop", all these "sounds of the universe" or à la thriller: these are the very horrendous beethovens and hollywoods."

During the 'post-mobile' period that started with Music of Silent Things (1999) for string orchestra, Counterparts and Me (2000) for choir, Soliloquy (2003) for chamber ensemble, Woods-Winds--Waters-Winters----Windows for 7 flutes (2003), etc., extremely slow, ascetic, geometrical trajectories of electronic sounds were replaced by slightly more active gestures of acoustic sonorities. But the author emphasizes, that "this is only temporary change of instrumentation rather than alteration of style, i.e. a shift from electronics towards acoustic instruments; the musical intuition remains the same". Likewise, solid concepts of works by Ramūnas Motiekaitis still persist, sometimes competing with the music itself. The shift in the direction of the composer's work, from the version of Mobile 6 (1996) for piano towards premieres of Soliloquy and Woods-Winds--Waters-Winters----Windows, was especially noticeable at his portrait concert on March 25, 2003, at Norges Musikkhøgskole, where he continues his composition studies since 2001.

His latest work, Alba (2003) for alto saxophone, which will receive its world premiere on October 7 at the Ultima Festival, was propelled by his wish to try out spectral composition. At first glance, Alba (the title alludes to the genre of troubadour morning song) has nothing in common with Motiekaitis' earlier works. In traditional sense, this opus, replete with diverse effects and textural contrasts in both microstructures and macro-form, is fairly dynamic and concert-like. However, the language of subtle nuances is still maintained here: the author compared the sound of his opus to some strange impression of spectral or 'deranged' Gregorian chant generated by our imagination. The performer of the opus, young Norwegian saxophonist, the founder and member of Poing trio, Rolf-Eric Nystrøm, admits enjoying the composition that would seem hardly manageable for a performer of purely classical background.

© Eglė Grigaliūnaitė & Veronika Janatjeva

Lithuanian Music Link No. 7