For six days during the late August weekend (25–30 August) Lithuanian music and composers will be featured at the 2011 Presteigne Festival (UK). This is the first time that the British festival offers such an extensive survey of Lithuanian music and introduces one of its living composers, Zita Bružaitė, as a featured composer-in-residence.
Situated in a small, intimate town nestling on the Powys/Herefordshire border, the Presteigne Festival has become a mecca for those seeking musical nourishment and artistic discovery in the idyllic surroundings of the Welsh Marches. With a truly forward-looking commissioning policy, the organisation works closely with composers and artists to create and curate inspiring programmes and events for an ever-widening Festival community. Focus on live music by living artists has been central idea since the inception of the festival in 1983. But instead of another ghetto for contemporary music, the festival’s carefully selected concert programme continues to provide a sensitive balance between contemporary voices, twentieth-century classics and important repertoire from the past, whilst supporting events offer an educated insight into the world of music and the arts today.
Thanks to the impressarial efforts of the Festival’s artistic director, George Vass, this year it introduces a wide-ranging programme, featuring Lithuanian music and composers. “I was first introduced to Lithuanian music by one of the Festival’s vice-presidents, composer and pianist John McCabe who gave me some CDs he had brought from his visit to Lithuania in 2003,” Vass recalls. “I did a Baltic feature at the 2006 Presteigne Festival, with some Lithuanian pieces featured in the programme and pianist Evelina Puzaitė as a resident artist. But I continued to be interested in Lithuanian music and felt that, compared with Estonian and Latvian music, it got a pretty bad deal in the UK, with very few performances. One of the main purposes of the Lithuanian feature was to introduce new music to the British artists, and everyone appearing at the Festival this year has embraced this ideal – many of them being amazed by the standard and depth of this wonderful music. So we are the first ever UK Festival to have featured Lithuanian composers; I really hope others will follow our example.”
The festival offers an extensive survey of Lithuanian music, both historical and contemporary, with many UK premieres – from the national classics by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, to the visionary inter-war modernism by Vytautas Bacevičius, and from post-war avant-garde by Vytautas Barkauskas, Feliksas Bajoras, Osvaldas Balakauskas to the more recent crop of chamber pieces by Zita Bružaitė and Ramūnas Motiekaitis. The Choir of Royal Holloway (University of London) under its artistic director Rupert Gough will perform two choral pieces by Vytautas Miškinis who has enjoyed recent popularity in the UK after the release of his portrait CD “Time Is Endless” by “Hyperion Records” in 2010. The artist roster for 2011 festival also boasts a wealth of young performers including the Presteigne Festival Orchestra, the Navarra Quartet, pianists Huw Watkins and Alissa Firsova, violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen and soprano Helen-Jane Howells, together with many other superb musicians. In addition to the musical performances, the programme offers discussions and conversations with the featured artists, as well as a documentary “Lithuanian Composers in Conversation,” a recent video footage of interviews with four leading Lithuanian composers – Osvaldas Balakauskas, Bronius Kutavičius, Onutė Narbutaitė and Raminta Šerkšnytė.
Photo by Rimantas Ivoška
will also join in as a featured artist-in-residence, participating in the conversations, presenting her chamber works and the world premiere of her new piece, Cum Spe
for flute, violin, cello and piano, specially commissioned for this year’s Festival. Later this year the Presteigne Festival Soloists will take this piece on their City Tour 2011 in Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol.
The Lithuanian feature at the 2001 Presteigne Festival is introduced in close partnership with the Lithuanian Embassy in the UK, the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre, and generous support from the Lithuanian Culture Support Foundation.
For the full programme of the Festival visit http://presteignefestival.com/events