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A Musical Odyssey of Osvaldas Balakauskas in the programme of the Vilnius Festival

A Musical Odyssey of Osvaldas Balakauskas in the programme of the Vilnius Festival


On June 8th, 2017, the audience of the Vilnius Festival will have a rare opportunity to set off on an odyssey into Osvaldas Balakauskas’ music on the stage of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall. This portrait concert dedicated to one of the most influential and seminal Lithuanian composers of our time will feature an overview of his chamber works. The programme will be presented by some of the most devout promoters and proficient exponents of Lithuanian music – members of the Lithuanian Ensemble Network (LEN) under the artistic leadership of Vykintas Baltakas. In collaboration with the Chordos Quartet and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (LCO), the LEN offers an intriguing retrospective of Balakauskas’ chamber music.

Osvaldas Balakauskas (b. 1937) has created a recognisable, original and exceptional voice, but at the same time his work demonstrates a certain universal quality: a harmonious combination of unerring compositional logic and beauty, intuition and imagination. As his friend and painter Leonardas Gutauskas once said about his work, “Each of his works is like an explosion: sounds seem to emanate from the very dense nucleus of musical ideas in ripples, gathering momentum as they move apart. But even that expanding mass of sound particles remains limpid, translucent and transparent; it never gets obscured or confused as in a clamorous market, which is so characteristic of many modern composers.”

On the occasion of Balakauskas’ 80th birthday, the Vilnius Festival presents a retrospective of his works from that written in 1997 to the most recent and still unperformed String Quartet No. 5. “[After you’ve heard it], you’d wish you could hear that music once again. What’s strange about it is that each time you hear the same work you get magically absorbed and drawn into a play of imagination, revealing more and more relationships and meanings within its deep-layered structures.” (Donatas Katkus)

The two-part programme will feature the Arcade for chamber ensemble (2005; performed by the LEN), String Quartet No. 5 (2012; dedicated to and performed by the Chordos Quartet), Odyssey-2 for string orchestra (2011; performed by the LCO), Mosaic for solo accordion (2014; performed by Raimondas Sviackevičius), Adagio cantabile for string orchestra (2011; performed by the LCO), and Concerto RK for violin and chamber orchestra (1997; performed by the LEN and LCO, with violinist Rusnė Mataitytė as a soloist). The programme will be conducted by Vykintas Baltakas.

Works by Balakauskas have already been featured at the Vilnius Festival in previous years. In 2001, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, with Juozas Domarkas conducting, performed the world premiere of his Fifth Symphony that was written as a commissioned work for the festival. And it is quite a coincidence that the retrospective concert dedicated to the composer’s 80th anniversary will feature the world premiere of his String Quartet No. 5. The work was written especially for the Chordos Quartet in 2012 but had to wait until its premiere for five years. In the composer’s words, it is a continuous piece of music, in which the development is determined by the interweaving of several rhythmic and textural patterns. The exposition and the recapitulation sections are based on the juxtaposition of distinct rhythmic patterns and types of texture, with continually halting movement, while the central section is dominated by wriggly rhythms and their counterpoints, creating a sense of free pulsation. This lends the music its dynamism and quasi-improvisational character.

The audience of the Vilnius Festival will be taken on a musical odyssey through Balakauskas’ chamber works by the Lithuanian Ensemble Network (LEN) under the artistic leadership of composer and conductor Vykintas Baltakas. The LEN is comprised of the most renowned Lithuanian musicians specialising in the performance of contemporary music and active collaboration with the young composers. Members of the LEN devote much of their time and energies to promote new Lithuanian music and present most fascinating foreign artists and modern music trends to the audiences across the country. A series of portrait concerts dedicated to the most outstanding personalities in the local scene of contemporary music is one of LEN’s major ongoing projects. The LEN has several CDs and downloadable music albums to its credit, including the portrait album of Baltakas’ works b(ell) tree (Kairos-Music) and the recording of his chamber opera Cantio (2015, LEN Media), Horizons 2009‒2014 (2015, LEN Media), Lithuanian Chamber Music (2016, LEN Media), Ukrainian Contemporary Music (2016, LEN Media), Anton Lukoszevieze & Arturas Bumsteinas: Zarasai (2014, LEN Media).

The portrait concert of Osvaldas Balakauskas’ chamber works will take place on Thursday, June 8th, at 7 pm, at the Main Auditorium of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall.

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Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society

Address: Aušros vartų st. 5, LT-01304 Vilnius, Lietuva
Contact: tel. +370 5 266 52 10, fax. +370 5 266 52 66

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