Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival: the second year of a Lithuanian focus and a diverse programme

  • Nov. 17, 2023

One of Europe’s most important new music festivals, the 46th Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, abbreviated as “hcmf//”, kicks off this weekend in the UK. For the second year in a row, it will present a Lithuanian programme, implemented by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Cultural Attaché to the UK Ūla Tornau and the Music Information Centre Lithuania.

“The real benefit of this three-year partnership is that it allows us to dive deep into the Lithuanian music scene and make incredible discoveries. The results of that surely can be seen in this year's programme,” said the festival’s Artistic Director Graham McKenzie.

The opening night of the 10-day festival will feature the first premiere commissioned by the festival, Arturas Bumšteinas’ Stand-by for Minna, for organ and electronics. A year ago, while researching the music archive at the University of Huddersfield, Bumšteinas came across a fascinating documentary about the British composer Minna Keal, who abandoned composing after her studies and resumed composing again at a very late age. Gailė Griciūtė and Benas Jonušas will perform a work inspired by this composer, which will include fragments of Keal's Wind Quintet No.2.

The programme will also include the performance sound art event Bad Weather from the series Navigations by Operomanija and Bumšteinas. The sounds of rain, wind and thunder, created by baroque theatre noise machines will be waiting for festival attendees at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Liudas Mockūnas, one of Europe's most prominent free jazz musicians and improvisers, will present his solo programme Hydro 3. The brass and improvisational line-up will be continued by the duo of tuba player Simonas Kaupinis and saxophonist Arminas Bižys, who will perform their concert programme Taming the Air. At almost midnight local time, the audience will be invited to listen to music with their eyes closed, which was created in collaboration with Bumšteinas, Dominykas Digimas and Simonas Nekrošius.

The first weekend of the festival will be crowned by national prize-winning composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė's Hadal Zone, performed by the ensemble Synaesthesis. The ensemble has already presented this work at this year's Long Play Festival in New York, and hcmf// will feature the long-awaited and highly anticipated British premiere.

An old-timer of the festival returning to Huddersfield is Apartment House, led by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, which will present a programme of works by Lithuanian composers. It will include Egidija Medekšaitė's Shrî, Ramūnas Motiekaitis' Snowless NY 1949, Jurga Šarapova's Untitled Imagine, and Julius Aglinskas' Blue Dusk, written especially for this ensemble.

“The programme of the second year of the partnership presents a truly diverse panorama of Lithuanian composers and performers, listening to which we try to tame the air, wind, rain and water. All these keywords are nothing more than the festival's ambition to raise questions about the climate and try to find ways to live more sustainably in the future through a creative and positive holistic approach to the problems that surround us. As a partner of hcmf//, we can not only contribute to this goal but also help international audiences to get to know our country's musical phenomena and unique ideas better, and to tame us,” said Radvilė Buivydienė, director of the Music Information Centre Lithuania.

The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, organised annually in partnership with the University of Huddersfield, offers a unique and priceless artistic experience and a particularly valuable platform for professional collaboration. This year it brings together delegates from a number of European countries as well as from Thailand, Indonesia, Lebanon and Brazil.

The project is funded by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the United Kingdom.