Baltic Music Days 2022 ‘UP-CLOSE’ takes place jointly with Iš arti in Kaunas

     This November, the contemporary music festival Iš arti will host the 2nd Baltic Music Days (BMD) in Kaunas (06.11. – 19.11.2022). Iš arti is an integral part of the culture scene in Kaunas. It was founded in 2009 by the Chairwoman of Lithuanian Composers' Union department of Kaunas, Zita Bružaitė alongside local composers and musicians. The festival dedicated to Baltic contemporary classical music was initiated by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Composers’ Unions in 2019 with the launch of the Baltic Contemporary Music Network. This year the theme reflects the host festival's name Iš arti/UP-CLOSE (eng. transl.) to amplify the nuances in Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian music while perceiving the cultural camaraderie and fellowship.

     The programme consists of 9 concerts: the opening concert Vibrations, Visions, Discoveries, Contemplations, Conversions, Hadal Zone, Spectrum, Shining and the closing concert Sensus. The works will be performed by the most prominent ensembles and orchestras of the Baltics: Synaesthesis (LT), Lithuanian Symphonic Wind Orchestra (LT), Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra (LT), Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra (LT), Latvian Radio Choir (LV), percussionist duo Juris Āzers and Guntars Freibergs (LV), Ensemble of the Estonian Electronic Music Society (EE), Ensemble for New Music Tallinn (EE) and guest ensemble NAMES (AT). The prime focus of all concerts is on the creativity of composers. There are plenty of World Premieres in the concert programme by composers: Ričardas Kabelis (LT), Marius Baranauskas (LT), Ramūnas Motiekaitis (LT), Märt-Matis Lill (EE), Elis Hallik (EE), and pieces by Matīss Čudars (LV), Raivis Misjuns (LV), Anna Veismane (LV) and others.

     The Opening Concert Vibrations (06.11, 4 p.m.) takes place in a very special venue Kaunas Factory ‘Drobė’ with the Ensemble of the Estonian Electronic Music Society (EMA) comprising of six musicians – Doris Hallmägi, Ekke Västrik, Mihkel Tomberg, Taavi Kerikmäe, Tarmo Johannes, Theodore Lee Parker. The group aims to transcend technological restraints and promote sensitive musicianship, responding to each other and keen hearing, making full use of all the incredibly rich sonic possibilities offered by electronic instruments from Buchla and Serge synthesizers to laptop-based live-electronics. The program includes pieces by Malle Maltis (EE), Áki Sebastian Frostason (IS), Alise Rancāne (LV), Udo Kasemets (CA), Doris Hallmägi (EE).

     The festival continues with an ensemble that has become a recognized name across Europe, the Ensemble for New Music Tallinn.  Commissioned pieces and a repertoire of more than hundred pieces, and several dozens of original programs covering various genres, the members are Karolina Leedo (flute), Chiara Percivati (clarinet), Toomas Hendrik Ellervee (violin), Talvi Nurgamaa (viola), Paul-Gunnar Loorand (cello), Talvi Hunt (piano) and the artistic director, conductor Arash Yazdani. The diverse program allows us to experience a wide and intriguing contexts of the festival theme ‘UP-CLOSE’ in Kaunas State Philharmonic (07.11, 6 p.m). The concert called Visions presents five colourful, well-established composers known for their innovative approach  and uniqueness: Justina Repečkaitė (LT), Santa Bušs (LV), Sami Klemola (FI), Elis Hallik (EE), along with a new piece by Märt-Matis Lill (EE).                

     The festival programme will continue with the concert Discoveries (11.11, 6 p.m.) in the Kaunas State Philharmonic with the contemporary music ensemble of 10 musicians, NAMES (New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg). Collaborating with artists from a wide range of disciplines the ensemble has appeared at Aspekte, Dialoge, Mixtur, Druskomanija, Crossroads, Daegu, Primavera, Schönberg Center, Adevantgarde and elsewhere. By combining a desire for chamber music and sound craftsmanship, NAMES is an experimental laboratory for lovers of new ideas and sounds. The programme includes Carola Bauckholt (DE), Klaus Lang (AT), Michael Gordon (US), Peter Jakober (AT), Christoph Herndler (AT), and a new specially commissioned piece by Ramūnas Motiekaitis (LT). 

     The Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra (KCSO), with conductor Imantas Šimkus, will perform the programme Contemplations at the Kaunas State Philharmonic (12.11, 5 p.m.). KCSO emerged from the Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 1988. Since 2000 the orchestra has been managed by Algimantas Treikauskas, with the principal conductor Constantine Orbelian. Works by Linda Leimane (LV), Giedrius Kuprevičius (LT), Marianna Liik (EE) and a world premiere by Marius Baranauskas (LT) will be performed.

     Latvian percussionist duo Juris Azers and Guntars Freibergs perform at the Kaunas State Philharmonic (13.11, 5 p.m.). The programme Conversions features various compositions for percussion instruments. The duo performs together since 2016 focuses on original chamber music and newly written music for percussions challenging virtuosity, subtly curated programs and dexterous skill of ensemble. Works to be performed include Loreta Narvilaitė (LT), Andris Dzenītis (LV), Asja Ahmetdžanova (LV), Matīss Čudars (LV), Kristupas Bubnelis (LT), Anna Veismane (LV) and Raivis Misjuns (LV).

     In the colonnade of the Kaunas State Philharmonic, the festival will pass the baton of concerts to the Contemporary Music Ensemble Synaesthesis (15.11, at 6 p.m.). The team of young and ambitious musicians (Artūras Kažimėkas (bass clarinet), Simonas Kaupinis (tuba), Arnas Kmieliauskas (cello), Donatas Butkevičius (double bass) and Marta Finkelštein (piano) vision goes beyond the sound into space, light, movement and narrative – anything that allows for professionally performed music to become a multidimensional creation and blur the lines between genres. Synaesthesis will perform Hadal Zone by Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (LT) which is an hour-long experiential concert extended towards the space by the light installation of the artist Akvilė Anglickaitė, performed by Valdas Latonas. In the performance Žibuoklė Martinaitytė uses live instruments of the lowest ranges: tuba, bass clarinet, cello, contrabass and piano, as well as complex electronic material that expands the spectrum of low frequencies, which the ear can no longer accurately differentiate. The light installation envelops the listeners, low sounds become parallel to the darkness of the deepest ocean zone, which inspires a new potential for perception and experience of space with its unknowability.

     Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra’s (KCO) highly anticipated concert program Spectrum which world premieres Ričardas Kabelis (LT) piece along many more works by Lithuanian composers at the Kaunas State Philharmonic (16.11, 6 p.m.). KCO is among the youngest, most dynamic professional chamber orchestras in Lithuania, it actively endeavours to stimulate and enlighten its audiences by presenting well thought out programmes and exhilarating interpretations of stylistically varied repertoire. 

     The Lithuanian Symphonic Wind Orchestra programme Shining out and through is conducted by Karolis Variakojis, to present Gundega Šmite (LV), Dominykas Digimas (LT), Rita Mačiliūnaitė (LT) and Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (LT). This universal and open collective performs music of various genres and styles. The concert will take place at the Kaunas State Philharmonic (17.11, 6 p.m.).

      The Closing Concert Sensus (19.11, 4 p.m.) in the St. George the Martyr’s Church brings the with the award-winning Latvian Radio Choir to explore a gallantry of classicism, balanced with a sea of emotions, overflowing romanticism and adventurous dive into the musical puns of modern composers Justė Janulytė (LT), Rytis Mažulis (LT), Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (LT), Toivo Tulev (EE), Arvo Pärt (EE), Mārtiņš Viļums (LV/LT) and Krists Auznieks (LV).

Baltic Music Days / Iš arti ‘UP-CLOSE’ 2022 is co-organized by the Baltic Contemporary Music Network and Iš arti. Sponsors of the festival are Lithuanian Council for Culture and Lithuanian Composers’ Union. Festival partners are Kaunas State Philharmonic, Latvian and Estonian Composers’ Union. Baltic Music Days 2023 will take place in Latvia.

Photo: G. Jovaiša (Kaunas Symphony Orchestra)