We were lucky enough, onе might say, to have lived through 2022, the year that was far from what we had expected and intended. The war, which had paralysed many for months, eventually forced us to winnow the wheat from the chaff in the most tenacious manner in order to focus on our goals with utmost persistence in every step we took.
For weeks, we were unable to fathom just how we could help Ukraine, all our efforts centred around Lithuanian music and the related industries. Eventually we decided to support Blue/Yellow, a local Ukraine aid initiative, by donating it all our profits from album sales on our Bandcamp page as long as the war lasts. True Rosaschi, the curator of our podcast, gave the 1K Aid Fund his six-month worth of personal income related to the podcast.
The war gave an impulse to many towns and cities across the country to get rid of the remaining Soviet-era legacy, including public monuments and street names, while we immersed ourselves in the reorganisation of our library. It’s no secret that, as much as music piracy and illegal copying is concerned, Lithuania has failed to tackle the challenge in a comprehensive way and remains plagued with this relic of Soviet times. Almost daily, we are asked by many to cut corners by providing – illegally – pieces by Lithuanian composers either in the form of sheet music or recordings. Unable to tolerate it any longer, we have terminated our library on mic.lt simultaneously relocating all of it to MusicLithuania.com.
Getting rid of faulty practices, however, was just one side of the coin, the other being the increase of availability of everything we have amassed. In 2022, the Copyright Protection Programme of the Lithuanian Council for Culture provided us with the funds to complete a number of important sheet music tasks. We have digitised momentous music written by Bronius Kutavičius, Vidmantas Bartulis, Anatolijus Šenderovas, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, and Onutė Narbutaitė as well as some of the most popular Lithuanian pieces by Benjaminas Gorbulskis, Algimantas Raudonikis, Eduardas Balsys, Juozas Naujalis, and Juozas Gudavičius. All is now on our online store.
Each legally bought piece of music helps us in our task of preserving the works of our composers and making them widely available. It is important to mention that foreign customers, who constitute about one-third of the total on our e-shop, always buy sheet music in quantities that strictly correspond the number of performers in their choirs, orchestras, and ensembles. This pattern should be followed in Lithuania too. A slight positive trend may be drawn from the fact that our website nekopijuoknatu.lt which we launched as a tool against illegal copying of sheet music, received 8,500 visits last year.
MusicLithuania.com, which added over 150 new products last year, welcomed 15,000 unique visitors in 2022. Geographically, our non-Lithuanian customers ranged from the United States and Canada to the United Kingdom and Japan, the bulk coming from the European Union. Digital sheet music accounted for about 70 per cent of the total, helped partly by the introduction of an online payment engine. In order to learn more about our domestic customers and their preferences, we carried out an anonymous poll among Lithuanian music teachers, with 102 respondents taking part.
Due to differences in attitude towards future, we parted in 2022 with our long-term supporter who used to fund texts on mic.lt. Last year, we put our own money to write and translate over 50 articles on Lithuanian music. They proved remarkably popular and covered widely diverse topics, including album reviews and interviews with composers and performers of contemporary, jazz, modern folk, experimental electronic, rock, world and other music.
Emilija Visockaitė quit last year as editor of mic.lt and was replaced by Justina Paltanavičiūtė. Lithuanian Music Link, our yearly review of the most notable developments on the domestic music scene, was this time compiled and edited by Emilija Visockaitė and Radvilė Buivydienė, its twenty-fifth volume to be published very soon. We offered six new episodes, all in English, to the Composers On Air podcast, making it twelve in total.
Our album catalogue added last year Robots and Petals with music by composer Jonas Jurkūnas, and aidinčios miego tekstūros (Echoing Textures of Sleep), a debut recording of composer Andrius Šiurys. The Aidija Choir recorded Lapides, flores, nomina et sidera, a cantata by Onutė Narbutaitė, while we released a promotion album entitled Note Lithuania: Folk/World 2022. Among the recordings to come out soon is I Like… dedicated to composer Vidmantas Bartulis and recorded by the Vilnius-based St Christopher Chamber Orchestra, and Atklydimai (Ramblings), a vinyl featuring music by Šarūnas Nakas.
In addition to that, we released two digital albums last year, the first being Sunny. Bit Windy, a retrospective of music by Martynas Bialobžeskis. His peers Audrius Šimkūnas and Marija Rasa Kudabaitė feature on Kintai.Kitaip (Kintai. From Different Angle), a recording from last year’s arts residence in the town of Kintai.
The year 2023 will witness the release of Muzikinė Geldutė (A Tiny Musical Shell), a joint project of composer Rūta Vitkauskaitė and Chromatikon, the London-based ensemble. Their album covers music of Lithuanian Jews between the two world wars selected by musicologist Kamilė Rupeikaitė and recorded in Vilnius. The recording will feature a booklet in Lithuanian, English, Hebrew, and perhaps Yidish.
Our eight new digital compilations include sheet music of guitar pieces by Mindaugas Stumbras, jazz pieces for piano by Andrej Polevikov, chamber music by Ugnė Giedraitytė, piano pieces for children by Alvydas Jegelevičius, songs for children’s choir by Laurynas Vakaris Lopas, pieces for kanklės by Rita Mačiliūnaitė, pieces for wind instruments by Linas Rupšlaukis, and Pamario Dainos (Seaside Songs), a publication initiated by singer Gintarė Skerytė. The last release features new song arrangements by composers Zita Bružaitė, Raminta Šerkšnytė, Martynas Bialobžeskis, Laimis Vilkončius, and Jūra Elena Šedytė. Among upcoming publications is a collection of piano pieces by Faustas Latėnas, this time edited.
Last year we were particularly pleased to arrange more of live meetings, performances, and courses. For the first time ever and with the help of two outstanding experts, Tom Perchard and Tim Rutherford-Johnson, an incubator for music critics was launched. Another entrepreneurship course for music business professionals, that are vital for covering issues of growth in the music industry, was led by Marijus Aleksa and Dima Golovanovas who shared their personal experience in offering innovative music products, attending networking events, and collaborating with the variety of music business professionals. Traditionally, we took part in the Vilnius Book Fair, the Vilnius City Fiesta and, for the first time, at the Music Autumn Festival to offer our recordings and publications. The Composers’ House hosted the performances to present the Kintai.Kitaip album and the Pamario Dainos project. Kava ir Vinilas, a café in Vilnius, was a venue chosen to launch the Jonas Jurkūnas album, while Martynas Bialobžeskis presented his recording at the Opera Social House lounge. With as many as sixteen musicians and actors taking part in his album premiere, Andrius Šiurys required an even larger stage, the Arts Printing House in Vilnius.
On the international level, we took part in Classical:NEXT, the global event in Hannover dedicated to classical and contemporary music, and WOMEX in Lisbon, the world’s top gathering for music industry professionals. Both in Germany and Portugal, we were in charge of an umbrella stand representing diverse Lithuanian music. As members of IAMIC, the global network for organisations like our own, we had a chance, for the first time since 2019, to take part in the IAMIC conference in Hamburg and the general assembly in Bonn. It was there that Radvilė Buivydienė, head of the Music Information Centre Lithuania, was elected member of the IAMIC council. Besides we became active members of the Baltic Contemporary Music Network and took part in the work aimed at strengthening ties between other genres across the region.
Together with the Lithuanian Culture Institute and Ūla Tornau, Lithuania’s cultural attaché in the United Kingdom, a three-year cooperation project with the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the largest in the UK, was launched. This year's festival programme featured two pieces by Justė Janulytė, two live performances of the Twenty Fingers Duo, and Sneeze Etiquette, and a multimedia project entitled This Order Goes Wrong.
In Tel Aviv, a three-day festival took place dedicated to the centenary of Jonas Mekas, an outstanding film director and artist born in northern Lithuania. In cooperation with the Felicja Blumental Music Centre and Library, a series of events took place to reveal Mekas’s rich artistic legacy. Pianist Marta Finkelštein played a programme made up exclusively of pieces by Lithuanian composers. Israeli artists and musicians improvised employing archive materials provided by the Jonas Mekas Foundation. Lithuanian composer Dominykas Digimas shared his creative ideas and took people to a sound-focused stroll along Tel Aviv streets and down to the seaside. The festival in Israel was part of Jonas Mekas centenary programme managed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute.
Another celebration comes in 2023 as Vilnius marks its 700 years anniversary. Together with several curators and the National TV and Radio, we will launch a special project.
We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all our partners who worked, talked and discussed with us – both during happier hours and the grim ones. We thank all our customers who bought music and all the public who attended our events, to all who support and criticise us and whom we are yet to make acquaintances with – we try hard every day for all of you. We thank all composers and performers, writers and translators, editors of texts and music, graphic designers, illustrators, programmers, sound engineers, journalists and all our partners across Lithuanian and beyond.
Our special thanks go to all who funded our initiatives, namely the Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Municipality of Vilnius, the LATGA Association, the Lithuanian Composers’ Union, and the Lithuanian Culture Institute.
We wish you all a happy, peaceful, creative and successful year!