SPARK | Baltic Music Days 2023
Guntars Freibergs, percussion
conductor Normunds Šnē
Platons Buravickis (1989) Spark PREMIERE
Justina Repečkaitė (1989) Chartres
Madli Marje Gildemann (1994) Transpiration
Jānis Petraškevičs (1978) Echoing Distances for percussion and chamber orchestra
Baltic Music Days will host the great Sinfonietta Rīga with conductor Normunds Šnē. Listeners will again have the opportunity to experience a striking recent opus — Jānis Petraškevičs's impressive chamber symphony “Echoing Distances” for percussion and chamber orchestra. The piece is a collaboration with the excellent percussionist Guntars Freibergs, who writes: "In terms of expressivity, Jānis’s work is much more nuanced and sensual, more sensitive than most of the percussion repertoire."
The concert notably features a new work for orchestra by Platons Buravickis, whose music can both whip you into a frenzy and move you with beautiful, colorful landscapes. In his composition “Spark”, Platons offers a reflection on this word’s rich layering of literal and figurative meanings. A spark is the beginning of inspiration, fire, ignition. The spark is the celebration and the explosion, the source of future events that we are yet to experience, "from which, I hope, will be kindled the hearth of equality, peace and science, which will reveal to us the way to the worlds beyond", says Platons, inviting us to listen.
We will also hear music by the Estonian composer Madli Marje Gildemann, praised as a “rising young star". (Bachtrack) In her work “Transpiration”, she explores evaporation in the plant kingdom and offers a musical glimpse into a process that remains elusive to the human senses in everyday life.
Lithuanian composer Justine Repečkaitė's compositions have been praised as "life cycles of sonic figures…Processes are quite plant-like, truly organic: withering, germinating, unfolding, wilting, bursting into bloom, blossoming." (Lithuanian National Radio) One of her most famous works, “Chartres”, has already been performed by several ensembles, including the BBC Philharmonic, and features "intense richness of color" (Ben Lunn, Music Sun), inspired by the proportions found in medieval art and the spectacular rosette-shaped stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral in France.
Since 2021 “Baltic Music Days” has been organized by the Composer Unions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Each year the festival takes place in a different Baltic country. The first festival, organized by the Estonian Composers Union, took place online. The second festival was hosted in Kaunas, the 2022 European Capital of Culture. This year, 2023, the festival will take place from March 18-31 in Cēsis and Rīga, Latvia. Nine concerts are planned for the festival, including the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra performing at Cēsis Concert Hall, the State Chamber Orchestra “Sinfonietta Rīga” performing at the Great Guild Hall in Rīga, and the Latvian Radio Choir performing at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music.
A particularly special highlight of the festival will be a performance by the world-famous percussion ensemble “Les Percussions de Strasbourg” on March 19, at Cēsis Concert Hall.
The festival as a whole will include 11 world premieres by Latvian composers.
This year, the festival’s overall theme is “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”.
We have borrowed this theme from the title of Czech/French writer Milan Kundera’s well-known novel. We came to this idea at the war’s start — a war, which unfortunately has not yet ended. A war, which has seeped into our daily lives, into our subconscious; a war, which makes us shiver in compassion and demands that we help as much as possible.
“… for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes”*
Amid the war and the empathy, life and music continue, offering opportunities for sensitivity and joy. It is unbearably heavy and light at the same time. We have asked the festival’s composers to reflect in their new compositions: is heaviness truly terrible, and lightness wonderful? Is lightness positive and heaviness negative? For the moment, it is only clear that the opposition of heaviness and lightness is the most mysterious and meaningful of all opposites.
Come and listen to it with us.
*Milan Kundera, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” 1984.
The festival is organized by Latvian Composers Union and supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, Baltic Contemporary Music Network, Geothe-Institut Riga, Latvian Concerts, Riga Latvian Society, Concert Hall "Cēsis", Latvian Radio 3 "Klasika", Riga Cathedral