In 2008, Lithuania has been granted an honourable right to host one of the biggest international contemporary music festivals – World Music Days (WMD) – to take place from October 24 to November 8 for the first time in Vilnius.
This event, organised by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) that comprises more than 50 member countries from around the world, is often compared to the Olympics in music and many countries bid each year for the right to host its programme. Two years ago Lithuania has succeeded in winning this bid, ‘defeating’ Greece during the final voting. The organisation of this WMD edition in Lithuania is a sound testimony to the country’s international reputation: this will be the first large-scale international new music gathering not only in Lithuania, but in the entire Baltic Region, and the first ISCM World Music Days in this part of Europe.
As part of the Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009 programme, the ISCM World Music Days 2008 will become one of its main introductory events to take place this year. It is being organised in collaboration with the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of the City of Vilnius and a number of major Lithuanian cultural institutions. Last week an agreement has been signed with Hansabankas, by which it became the festival’s official patron.
A half-year before the event the festival’s final programme has been announced, presenting a variety of events to take place in Vilnius from October 24 to November 8. The festival’s theme InBetween (describing the middle ground, a transit zone and a place for interactions) declares its openness to various approaches and ideas: the festival presents works that transcend the limitations of specific genres, traditions, artistic forms and their consumption habits. It also seeks to reflect the cultural and societal variety of today’s world by presenting a multi-level programme.
Among the main highlights are the two musical theatre superprojects, distinguished for their top-level production forces and polyfunctional realisation. For the first time in Lithuania a contemporary opera by a foreign composer – Peter Eötvös’s Love and Other Demons after the eponymous novel by Gabriel García Márquez – will receive its continental premiere in Vilnius as a co-production between the Glyndebourne Festival (UK) and the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (November 7, 8). The second production will be presented by the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne (Switzerland), which brings to Vilnius its best project of the last decade – a musical performance Eraritjaritjaka composed and directed by Heiner Goebbels (October 28, 29).
The festival’s theme will be also reflected in the work of two focus composers, Jonathan Harvey (UK) and Peter Eötvös (Hungary), whose masterful creations are now widely performed by the world’s most famous musicians. For the first time in the history of Lithuanian music festivals, a work was commissioned from an international composer: the world premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s new piece will be given by the unique Conjunto Iberico Cello Octet (Holland-Spain) on October 26. A signature concert of Harvey’s choral works will be presented by the Latvian Radio Choir under the celebrated British conductor, James Wood (October 31), and his audiovisual installation Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco will represent his electronic output (October 25 and 26). Peter Eötvös, active as a composer and conductor, will participate in both capacities. As a conductor he will appear on the pulpit of the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra (October 24), with which he will prepare an impressive programme including his own Jet Stream for trumpet and symphony orchestra. This event will be followed by the adventurous “Eötvös After Party” at the Energy Museum where his and other composers’ electronic works will be performed and remixed by Dublicate and Virus J.
Those particularly interested in interdisciplinary art forms and their presentation in unconventional formats will have a possibility to opt for the “transit” programmes. Perhaps the largest among these is the specially commissioned All Souls’ Day project by Onutė Narbutaitė, titled Stones, Flowers, Names and Constellations, the world premiere of which will extend to two days and involve 7 choirs, singing simultaneously at different sacred places (cemetery and churches) in Vilnius (November 1, 2). Another original project called “Procession” will present a more than five-hour long ‘table music’ programme of works selected specially for the festival by the ISCM committee and accompanied by relishing the delicacies of the Lithuanian gastronomic heritage (October 25). The idea of transition and transmission of certain messages will be reflected in the performance of one of the 20th century landmark works – Luciano Berio’s Laborintus II (November 4). This project will involve jazz improvisations and 1960s’ Italian film music played by DJ Florintintin.
Beside the unconventional projects, the festival will also feature a number of quite conventional orchestral concerts (performed by the Lithuanian State and Lithuanian National symphony orchestras, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and Kremerata Baltica), which nonetheless reflect the festival theme InBetween by presenting works that in some way involve interaction between different phenomena. For example, the programme of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (October 25) will include the famous Atmosphères by György Ligeti remixed by Vytautas V. Jurgutis and Century Rolls for piano and orchestra by John Adams (with Petras Geniušas at the piano).
The performances of the best works by composers from the ISCM member countries is perhaps the most stable tradition of the World Music Days. 44 such works from 32 countries (out of more than 300 eligible entries) were selected by the international jury to be performed in Vilnius.
The World Music Days festival also provides ample opportunities for the hosting country to present its musical culture – both in terms of works and performers – to the international audience gathered especially for this occasion. Lithuania will gladly take advantage of these opportunities by offering 17 works by Lithuanian composers, 9 of which were commissioned especially for the World Music Days and 8 selected from the most distinguished and recognised compositions (such as Dzūkian Variations by Bronius Kutavičius and Tone Ontology No. 2 by Gintaras Sodeika).
Among the most attractive highlights of the festival are also the appearance of one of the world’s leading percussion ensembles, Les Percussions de Strasbourg (October 30); a project “Bridging the Borders – Two Lithuanians” by the ever-adventurous Apartment House ensemble (UK) that will present the experimental works by the founder of the Fluxus movement, George Mačiūnas, alongside those by the Lithuanian superminimalist composer, Rytis Mažulis (November 5); an improvisation project “Palimpsest” by the percussionist Vladimir Tarasov, numbered among the founders of the Vilnius jazz school (November 6); and a concert celebrating the 80th anniversary of one of the 20th-century musical dictators, Karlheinz Stockhausen, performed by the Ensemble für Intuitive Musik (November 6). The festival’s closing evening (November 7) will bring together the famous British DJ Scanner and other electronic music performers.
For the festival dates, programmes, venues, updates and practical information, please visit http://www.wmd2008.org/
World Music Days 2008 inf.