It will be recalled that last year the head of the Union of Composers of Lithuania, a talented composer and charming woman, Zita Bruzaite came to Ukraine for the first time. We got acquainted during a roundtable on the problems of contemporary music art at the National Music Academy of Ukraine. This year maestro came to our capital to the International Festival “Music Premieres of the Season” at the invitation of the Kyiv organization “National Union of Composers of Ukraine.” Ms. Bruzaite was accompanied by her colleagues, composer Vidmantas Bartulis and string quartet of the Kaunas State Philharmonic Society, which jointly with the Kyiv quartet Collegium presented the audience with the wonderful concert “Alliance” consisting of music works of Lithuanian and Ukrainian composers.
“It is very good that modern music is performed in Kyiv. I feel really warm atmosphere here,” Zita BRUZAITE admitted. “When I came to Kyiv at the invitation of Ihor Shcherbakov last time [currently chairman of the board of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine. – Author], I was getting bit by bit accustomed, because I had not been here for quite a long time, and now I meet already old friends and again a huge and luxurious program of contemporary music.”
Please, tell more about the Alliance Project. The press release said that you created this project jointly with Shcherbakov.
“Many ideas are accidental. Later they turn into serious projects. After my previous visit to Kyiv I invited Ihor Shcherbakov and flutist Bohdana Stelmashenko to a festival to Kaunas. Shcherbakov’s Concert for flute was performed very successfully. Then I thought that we had to make something jointly. Ihor and I discussed the program: our quartet – the Ukrainian quarter, one country – another country, and they should perform Lithuanian and Ukrainian music. But I added that it would be good if our composer wrote the works for both quartets. It turned out like I said [the work was composed by Vidmantas Bartulis. – Author]. Now this project will travel to Kaunas, the Collegium Quarter will come to Lithuania on November 9.”
Will it be a festival or simply a concert action?
“An annual festival.”
Is this the only festival in Lithuania?
“Unlike Ukraine, Lithuania is a small country, but Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda hold festivals of modern music. The Union of Composers holds in Vilnius the largest festival Gaida, known all over the world. I hold a festival in Kaunas every spring, and Klaipeda has a philharmonic society festival. Your composer Alla Zahaikevych has recently come from the Jauna Muzika (Young Music) Festival, Druskomania is a forum of academic art in Vilnius, where students ‘rebel.’ We also have Music Autumn Festival, it is regional. It is very important that the audience of modern music lived everywhere, not only in big cities. The Music Autumn is a traveling festival held in small towns.”
Are they supported by the state or sponsors?
“Above all, of course, they are supported by the state, besides, every city has a municipality. We also look for other kinds of funding, including the commercial ones.”
Which of your festivals is the oldest?
“Jauna Muzika, for example, has taken place for the 20th time, Druskomania – the 24th, Iserti in Kaunas – for the 17th, and Gaida in Vilnius for the 21st or even 22nd time.”
Does the Union of Composers of Lithuania take part in all the forums?
“Of course. Sometimes the works of composers beyond the Union are performed, too.”
How many artists are members of the Union of Composers of Lithuania?
“Nearly 170: about 70 musicians and 100 composers.”
Do the musicians want to work for Lithuania or leave the country?
“We have this kind of problem. Young artists are trying to find their own ways. For example, they know that a double bass player should go to Lithuania, and a trumpeter – to the Czech Republic, etc.”
In terms of style, do your composers work in avant-garde stylistics or delve deeply in the national folklore?
“I for one think that national identification is very important. My music is considered to be post-minimalism. Lithuania is going to take up EU presidency. So, our order is preparing corresponding projects. One of those will be folk music, which will include archaic instruments like klanknes, birbyne, etc.”
Without doubt, that will be interesting for other countries, like, for example, our bandura, dulcimer, reed pipe, etc. How do you arrange folk songs?
“I have choir, chamber, and symphonic music, where I combine the elements of music aesthetics of the Middle Ages, folklore, and jazz.”
In what genres do you work?
“I have composed two chamber operas. The first one has been shown in the music theater since 2000, and the second one, since 2005. They enjoy full houses. I also have a grand opera, which has been staged in a Kaunas castle. It was attended by 8,000 people, and there were fireworks and sculptures.”
Was it a one-time production?
“It has been staged three times.”
Do you live in Kaunas?
“Yes, I live in Kaunas and work in Vilnius.”
Has Lithuania preserved the traditions of music upbringing? Do people take interest in opera and serious academic music on the whole?
“I think so. The interest, especially among the young people, is growing these days, though this growth is not as dynamic as we wish. Let us take for example our exclusive grand festival Gaida, which in its scale equals Warsaw Autumn. It always enjoys full houses. However, unlike you, we do not give several concerts on a single day, because people are working. Kaunas has a different problem. For example, the audience of contemporary in Vilnius is rather professional, including composers, music experts, students, whereas in Kaunas those are largely amateurs. But all the tickets for the November festival have been sold out.”
What is your attitude to sharing experience between, say, Lithuanian festivals and ours? Have you picked anything up in Ukraine?
“Of course. Western countries may get offended, but they don’t have this warm atmosphere. Everything is much more moderate there, and here you have communication, via music and after the concert. This is really gratifying for me. I think we will continue to exchange not only the festival events. In August I will receive two young Ukrainian composers in Druskininkai. The head of your Union Ihor Shcherbakov and I have discussed the details. Currently we are developing a special resident program funded by our government. For example, in June a young artist from Malta came to our country, and in August Austrians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Croatians will live for two weeks in our House of Composers, and compose music. Later we will organize a concert, which will be made up by their works.”
It is wonderful that your state supports this kind of projects! Who’s funding the Union of Composers?
“The state again. We are proud that the government does not forget about us in spite of the crises. Lithuanian population amounts to a mere three million people. But we are preserving our culture, and we need to move forwards and be conscious.
“You know, no matter how rich the country is, culture will always be lacking money, especially the person living with this culture. After living a week without a book, an exhibit exposition, cinema, and theater – and you start feeling that you are lacking something. Still I believe that both in our country and in yours everything will be all right.”