Osvaldas Balakauskas "Psalms of the Spring" (Lithuania):
Arkady Gotesman – dr
Percussionist Arkady Gotesman commissioned Osvaldas Balakauskas, one of the most renowned Lithuanian composers, to write this composition for the Vilnius Jazz Festival. The participants of this project are all associated with jazz scene.
Osvaldas Balakauskas has always felt predilection for “idiosyncratic musical grammar of jazz”. In his compositions he tries to get hold of something that is never notated in jazz – dynamic rhythmic structures in his writing create the feeling of swing and improvisation.
“Balakauskas belongs to those composers, not very numerous nowadays, whose ambition is the creation of their own precise musical system. His period of studies in Kiev and the circle of the Ukrainian avant-garde of the time have significantly influenced his career. His fascination with Stockhausen, Boulez, Xenakis and especially Webern and Messiaen also dates back to those years.
His technique of composition developed in two directions: towards a specific serialism (…) and new diatonicism (…). New harmonies generate a peculiar, intriguing sound-climate, which is recognizable as “Balakauskas’ tonality” (Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre).
According to the composer, his technique “allows to feel the tonal field, i.e. effect akin to listening to tonal (classical) music”. He claims, that tonality invests music with a potential to move the listener, thus focusing on traditional composition and traditional audience, which prefers classical music and traditional jazz, is much more meaningful, than pursuing “originality”. Moreover, to be linked with tradition, butremain recognizable and individual is the biggest value.
Balakauskas’ music is regularly performed in major contemporary music festivals in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, was presented in ISCM World Music Days, and can be heard on 6 personal CDs.
Balakauskas was awarded the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize in 1996, and decorated with the Order of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas (Third Class) in 1998. In 2012, the composer was awarded the honorary insignia “Carry Your Light and Faith” by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.
Arkady Gotesman is one of the most resourceful Lithuanian percussionists. In addition to playing jazz, he performs contemporary academic music, writes scenarios for performances and installations, composes, records and performs music for theatre, performs as a silent film taper, collaborates with dancers.
Gotesman’s percussion can be heard in Oskaras Koršunovas’ theatre productions, and Anatolijus Šenderovas’ ballet Desdemona, choreographer Loreta Juodkaitė’s production To Disobey. Together with actress Dalia Michelevičiūtė he designed a theatre project Station in City N after Wislawa Szymborska’s poetry.
Recently, the percussionist has been preoccupied with theatrical vocabulary. In 2010, Gotesman invited to his first one-man show The Story of God’s Man. Last year together with visual artists Linas Liandzbergis and Artūras Valiauga he presented new project Percussion Postcards. Recently, he collaborated with actor Arūnas Sakalauskas in musical reading The Last Prophet of Vilnius. Yet different kind of theatre can be found in his jazz and Yiddish music quartet in which he teams up with singer Rafailas Karpis, pianist Darius Mažintas and saxophonist Petras Vyšniauskas.
The percussionist collaborates with people of letters; his music is featured on a CD of Rolandas Rastauskas’ poems. Inspired by J. Brodsky’s poems he recorded solo album J. Brodsky in memoriam.
On jazz scene, Gotesman has collaborated with exponents of various trends including Roland Dahinden, Vladimir Volkov, Vyacheslav Gaivoronsky, Arkady Shikloper, Julian Joseph, John Zorn, David Geringas, Jack Siron, Frank London, Anthony Coleman, Charles Gayle and Tim Daisy.
For many years the percussionist has been working with Petras Vyšniauskas, Vyacheslav Ganelin and Liudas Mockūnas. He also collaborates with Dainius Pulauskas Group, Vilnius Jazz Orchestra and ACCOsax Freeminded trio; has presented original projects with vocalist Andrė Pabarčiūtė and many other improvisers. Gotesman is a founder and member of Vilnius Klezmer Orchestra, organises the Klezmer Music Festival.
In Psalms of the Spring the percussionist will use both traditional percussion and unusual instruments – a gigantic triangle, gongs he has brought from Turkey, and instruments that he designed and constructed. There will be one more untraditional aspect – the musician will use the score, for with an exception of an introductory improvisation the entire composition is precisely notated.
Saxophonist Tomas Botyrius is best known as big band soloist. More than 15 years he has been a member of Kaunas Big Band, and also served as its leader. Besides, the musician has presented personal jazz programmes, participated in projects of a number of Lithuanian jazz masters, appeared in all Lithuanian jazz festivals, toured in Europe. In addition, he collaborates with pop- and academic music performers, teams up with actors.
Valerijus Ramoška is the foremost Lithuanian jazz trumpeter, a regular member of Dainius Pulauskas groups with which he appeared in the main festivals in Asia, Africa and Europe, as well as toured in the USA and Canada.
The trumpeter also has introduced a number of duo programmes with Dainius Pulauskas and pianist Egidijus Buožis, recorded albums with both colleagues. He has collaborated with all leading Lithuanian jazz masters including Vladimir Chekasin, Vladimir Tarasov, Liudas Mockūnas, Petras Vyšniauskas and Vytautas Labutis; is a member of Leonid Shinkarenko’s Jazz 4. Ramoška performs as a soloist with major Lithuanian big bands, works together with various chamber ensembles.
A graduate of Salzburg Mozarteum, pianist Daumantas Kirilauskas also has experience in jazz. He is the winner of Jazz Improvisation competition in Vilnius (1992), the first performer of Chick Corea’s Concerto for piano and orchestra in Lithuania. His repertoire ranges from baroque to the 21st century. Hungarian composer Miklos Maros dedicated Concerto for piano and orchestra to him.
The pianist gave concerts in major concert halls in the USA, Canada and Europe including Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Schumann Haus in Bonn, Vitebsk Philharmonic Hall, Concerthus in Oslo and The Great Guild Hall in Riga.
He has appeared with all Lithuanian orchestras, Latvian Sinfonietta Riga, Viennese Artis-Quartett, teamed with renowned Lithuanian and foreign soloists.
Kirilauskas has earned prizes in international competitions including M. Canals (Barcelona), New Port (Great Britain) and M.K. Čiurlionis (Vilnius). He received the Bösendorfer prize in Vienna and the premium of the Austrian Ministry of Culture.
Currently, he teaches the piano at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Jazz in not foreign to the members of string quintet featured in this project. With St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra led by Maestro Donatas Katkus they took part in Jazz Fest in Berlin in 1999. The Orchestra keeps mesmerizing audiences for its versatility and artistic flair.
St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra earned recognition for refined interpretations of baroque repertoire and promulgation of contemporary music. The collective has performed almost 200 Lithuanian compositions including complete works for strings by Osvaldas Balakauskas, and has recorded two CDs of his music.
Donatas Katkus, a Professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, was the violist of Vilnius String Quartet (1965–1994), with which he appeared in 2000 concerts and toured around the globe. Maestro has also performed extensively as a soloist, edited and was the first performer of a number of Lithuanian compositions for viola, string quartet and chamber orchestra.
In 1994, he founded the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra of the Vilnius Municipality, and the following year – the International St. Christopher Summer Festival.
The Professor authored more than 400 articles on music aesthetics, semiotics and interpretation theory, wrote scenarios for musical films Vilnius String Quartet (1982) and The Violinist (1984, about R. Katilius), published books Vilnius String Quartet (1971), Music Performance (2006, 2013), and Lithuania is Out of Fashion (2010).
In 2001, Katkus was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize, and in 2003 the Gold Medal of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Last year he was decorated with The Grand Cross of Commander – Second Class Order for contributions to Lithuania.