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Harmonious and resonant voices of the Jauna Muzika Choir under the artistic leadership of Vaclovas Augustinas, hypnotic music by American post-minimalist composer David Lang, and enchanting sonorities conjured up by the sleights of pianist Petras Geniušas’s hands. All this will mix together in the programme titled after one of Lang’s choral pieces – For Love is Strong.
David Lang, an esteemed guest and focus composer of the festival, is an avid and ingenious innovator who seems to be restlessly pushing the established boundaries of the musical realm, resisting categorization, and exploring new horizons. Augustinas comments: “My first encounter with David Lang occurred when I watched Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande belezza. He is one of those composers who are bold enough to use very few notes, but manage to discover something that leaves you mesmerised and dazed, like being spiritually intoxicated.” The programme of this concert includes two vocal pieces from Lang’s film work: I lie, featured on the soundtrack of the aforementioned film, and Just from P. Sorrentino’s later film Youth, for which the composer received many awards nominations in 2016, including the Academy Award and Golden Globe.
Pianist Petras Geniušas, whose solid reputation rests on the refined sense of musical style, exquisite technique and a keen sense of tone colour and texture, is well-known and sought-after not only on the classical music scene, but also in jazz and avant-garde music circles. He will perform Lang’s This was written by hand. In the composer’s words, “I got my first computer in 1993 and I have not written music with a pencil ever since, but I often wonder how – or if – the means of my writing had any effect on the writing itself. I wrote this piano piece to find out.”
Geniušas will proceed with several piano etudes by American minimalist composer Philip Glass, which he played last year at the Gaida Festival in Vilnius, in the immediate presence of the composer. Minimalist and post-minimalist aesthetic are two major and most enduring influences on the work of Lithuanian composer Gintaras Sodeika, which is also obvious in his new piano piece Firecrackers.
The showcase of Lang’s music will culminate with a few extracts from his Little match girl passion, which garnered him the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music and later 2010 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance (recording released on Harmonia Mundi). The New Yorker praised it as “one of the most original and moving scores of recent years.”