Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Competition Results (and Recording)!

The Vox Juventutis '09 results were announced the day of the concert, but I wanted to wait until I got a copy of the live recording before posting a blog entry. First of all, the entire performance, which included 12 brand new works for unaccompanied choir, was professional, well attended, and very enjoyable. The pieces, written by both Lithuanian and foreign composers, showed a wide variety of styles that kept the concert interesting and the audience eager to hear each new work.

Now for the good news: the excerpt I described in my last post won both 2nd place as well as the "Jauna Muzika" award for the choir's favorite work! Most importantly, I now have something you can finally hear for yourself. Visit my MySpace page and click on Dipukų Rauda (DPs' Lament) in the player window to hear the recording from the concert.

The 1st place award went to Lithuanian composer Albertas Navickas for his work, È. Albertas, who also studied with Osvaldas Balakauskas, recently finished his master's degree at the Academy. As I write, I am listening to his Iconic for orchestra, performed last month by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra in a concert of orchestral works by graduating master's students. After hearing many of his works during my time here, one feature of his music (among other great qualities) that continues to win me over is the pacing of each work. I can't help but feel a sense of patience every time I hear something of his.

3rd place was shared by two composers. Justina Šikšnelytė, a Lithuanian composer, just finished her first year in the bachelor's program at the Academy. Her work, Aš Gimiau (I was Born), with text by the composer, grows from a series of staggered/echoed melodies that sets the rather melancholy tone for the entire piece, eventually ending with a soprano solo followed by whispers from the choir. Šikšnelytė, I recently discovered, is also a talented jazz singer, and that influence makes its way into some of her concert works. Also winning 3rd place was Turkish composer Ali Somay (whose last name means "pure moon!"), a bachelor's student studying here through the Erasmus program. I heard three of his works while I have been here, and each dsiplayed his curiosity and creativity by means of unorthodox or extended playing techniques. His choral work, Zaman Yok, also with text by the composer, was no exception. And among the breath tremolos, tongue clicks, and hyper-registral singing (singing so high or low that there is no engagement of the vocal cords at all), this challenging work was still grounded in some very beatiful pitched material.

At the end of the concert, the audience voiced their opinion as they were allowed to vote for their favorite work. After the votes were counted, the "audience favorite" prize went to Wieslaw Sobieski, also a student at the Academy, for his excrutiatingly beautiful work, Rauda (Lament).

The press release (in Lithuanian) can be found here.