|ISCM WNMD 2008 report
The ISCM World Music Days 2008/18th Gaida Festival, (Vilnius, Lithuania, 24th of October - 8th of November, 2008)
The annual ISCM World Music Days festival was organized in Vilnius by the Lithuanian Section of the ISCM and the Gaida Festival. The organizers of the festival proposed the following title of the event "In-Between: contemporary music as transit zone and middle ground". Their intentions were explained as follows: "The festival theme wants to reflect on the multitude of positions any form of contemporary music can take today in the wider cultural landscape, and on the various ways through which the music of today reaches an audience". (Festival Programme book, p. 17)
To realize the above mentioned aims, a great variety of tools were engaged - alongside "traditional" chamber and orchestral concerts, there were installations, experiments, multimedia and interactive realizations, and specific focus on two composers - Peter Eötvös and Jonathan Harvey. The great strength of the festival was stylistic variability, respect for the general audience, and constructing the shape of the festival as a whole. It was fantastic to feel that the citizens of Vilnius were interested in the festival, participating in festival events, etc. The last time we experienced this degree of public involvement was in Zagreb, 2005. Of course, some aesthetic compromises were necessary to get audience's attention. Nevertheless, in my personal opinion, it is better to listen to some lighter music with more people in attendance.
Duty to the busy schedule, it wasn't possible to attend all festival events. The festival consisted of two parts - the first one until the 30th of October, more intense, combined with the ISCM General Assembly and seminars, the second one until the 8th of November devoted to musical events and closing by Peter Eötvös' opera Love and Other Demons. Among those I attended, I would like to mention a few notable choices - completely subjective, and quite selective.
The symphonic concert of Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra was a model example of combining several important features. Construction of the concert allowed the general audience to leave the concert hall with impression that contemporary music is not exclusively difficult and esoteric; for others there was a lot of "contemporary beauty" by Yuasa Joji (Jpn) and Oscar Carmona (Chile), and really fruitful, experiment reinterpretation of Ligeti. It would be perfect, if the John Adams piece was better performed. (National Philharmonic Hall, the 25th of October, Juozas Domarkas, conductor and Petras Geniuas, piano.)
One of the most creative ideas was realization of "Procession". It consisted of the combination of chamber, electronic, experimental music, and interesting performers with performance, installations and a feast atmosphere, always a good prophecy for such an event. It is a pity that the event was so late and too long in duration. (Contemporary Art Centre, the 25th of October.)
The Concert of Ensemble Modern was example of a classical "contemporary festival style" concert - experienced, good performers and mainstream repertoire. (National Philharmonic Hall, the 26th of October, Ensemble Modern, Peter Eötvös, conductor and Barbara Hannigan, soprano.)
The concert by Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico was an interesting combination of efficient performers specialising in Spanish and Latin American music with a modern repertoire. It was kind of bow towards the general public. (Town Hall, the 26th of October, Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico, Elias Arizcuren, conductor.)
It was a great pleasure to meet again the Cantus Ensemble. The combination of their musical skill and deep rendering under direction of Berislav ipu gave pleasant results. Among their repertoire I would like to mention especially two compositions - the intense work Fly by Vytautas Germanavicius (Lit) and disORDER by Kreimir Seletkovic (Cr). (Town Hall, the 27th of October, Cantus Ensemble, Berislav ipu, conductor).
Another event being the important part of experimental stream of the festival was Eraritjaritjaka - museé des phrases by Heiner Goebbels (Ger). The spectacle was perfectly performed, interesting as a whole, but not void of clichés. (National Drama Theatre, the 28th and 29th of October, André Wilms, actor, The Mondriaan Quartet.)
The last day of concerts of the first part of the festival brought two significant events - a symphonic concert with cross-cultural compositions by Goebbels and later, a concert by Les Percussions de Strasbourg. (National Philharmonic Hall, Robertas ervenicas, conductor, Sira Djebate, voice, Boubakar Djebate, kora, and Contemporary Art Centre, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the 30th of October).
Also noteworthy was the significant presence of young composers during the festival. It was also very important that during the festival, many composers from the Baltic area, especially from Lithuania, were performed. During the past years their beautiful music had only modest representation on the ISCM Word Music Days.
The festival published a Programme Book, which was well prepared and filled with a lot of information, pleasant design, yet some little flaws.
An important part of all the ISCM festivals are General Assemblies of the Society. During the Vilnius festival there were important elections and voting. The whole Executive Committee was changed. Most of new ExCom members have experience of working for the ISCM and/or the IAMIC (The International Association of Music Information Centres). There is a great hope for further co-operation of both organizations, especially for the future of the ISCM - IAMIC Young Composer Award. The most important voting was connected with change of Statutes of the ISCM. After heated discussions the changes were made. It should help to raise wider geographical representation in the organization. The change of the Rules of Procedure was the fruitful closing of the next stage of the never-ending discussion concerning values of national representation in work selection. I have observed quarrels concerning programming of the festival since 1990. My personal opinion is that after the many changes and discussion we have now returned close to the state from beginning of the nineties. We will see what future brings.
I would like to mention about the great engagement of the organizers in making our stay in Vilnius unforgettable and comfortable. All events were efficiently organized. To the programme was also added really interesting seminar with panel discussions concerning "Composer's Dilemma" in relationships with their surrounding (state, agent, commissions and critic).
Generally, it was a very nice festival with diversified programmes and interesting compositions, played well by the performers, and with wide geographical representation of ISCM countries. It was a great pleasure to attend not only the fantastic festival, but also the beautiful and historical surroundings of Vilnius.
Anna Dorota Wladyczka, Poland