Tracks from "Klangspuren Schwaz" Lead to Lithuania

From as far back as September 1994, when the international Klangspuren Schwaz contemporary music festival was first organized in Tyrol, festival programmers have tried each year to follow up on where the tracks of new sound (Klangspuren) are leading. Ten years of intense searching have not been fruitless – Klangspuren Schwaz has become one of the most important festivals of contemporary music in Austria. Its mission is to present the latest music from around the world, drawing it out of all sorts of 'exotic nooks', and providing it with an opportunity to be heard.

Taking into account the challenges of the expanding European community, the Klangspuren programmers have decided to move from the northern countries, which have been the centre of attention at the festival for the past several years, to Eastern Europe. This year the focus is on Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovenia - their most distinctive composers, and most celebrated performers. Representing Hungary will be Peter Eötvös, acclaimed conductor and composer, and György Kurtág, considered to be one of the most important figures of modern music. The focal point of the Slovenian programme will most likely be the work of trombonist and composer Vinko Globokar.

A Lithuanian sound will prevail during the first week of the Klangspuren festival, with Vykintas Baltakas as the centre of attention. On stage he appears not only as a composer, but also as conductor of the Gaida Ensemble. The programme will also include a discussion between Vykintas Baltakas and the former chair of Lithuanian parliament, musicologist and pianist, Vytautas Landsbergis.

Even those Klangspuren festival listeners-trackers who are not overly attentive, should notice Raminta Šerkšnytė's music, characterized by the evocative tone-painting and striking dramatic contour. Her new composition for violin and ensemble under the working title Vortex, written especially for the festival, will be premiered by Irvine Arditti and the Gaida Ensemble. In this new piece, the formal development proceeds in different variants of the same primary structures that gradually become more and more complicated until they merge into an amorphous mass, dissipating in the vortex. Chordos Quartet will perform her Oriental Elegy, which was awarded 'best chamber work' at the Lithuanian Composers' Union Awards 2003. According to the author, this music was inspired by the likenamed Alexander Sokurov's film - by its piercing sadness and the nostalgic beauty of nature. The initial impulses for the sound material of this piece arose from the sound of the wind, rustling leaves, rippling water, and the elegiac breathing of silence.

One would not expect such romanticism from Vytautas V. Jurgutis, whose Ellipses entered the repertoire of the celebrated Arditti Quartet after its successful premiere at the 2003 Gaida Festival. This stunning tightrope-walk through the most incredible series of string strokes, was in fact dedicated to these virtuoso players of contemporary music.

Onutė Narbutaitė is also writing a composition for the Arditti Quartet. At the beginning of March, the premiere of her imposing opus, Tres Dei Matris Symphoniae for symphony orchestra and choirs, opened the Musikfesttage am Oder; it aroused a wave of ardent response from the critics and listeners alike. Several of the ideas episodically flashing in her Symphoniae have also drifted down into her latest quartet, which the composer herself refers to as an intimate respite, before taking on new symphonic work.

Taking part in the Klangspuren Schwaz festival along with the composers, will be Lithuania's best performers – the Gaida Ensemble, formed barely two and a half years ago and boasting impressive programmes - and the Chordos Quartet, established by a group of ambitious young musicians.

The 2004 Klangspuren Schwaz festival takes place on September 10–26, in Schwaz, Wattens, Innsbruck, Rotholz, and other cities in the Tyrol region.

© Eglė Gudžinskaitė

Lithuanian Music Link No. 8

photos: Arūnas Baltėnas