|Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis is a cult figure of Lithuanian art and a signpost
of Lithuanian identity. Paradoxically, this internationally widely recognized
extraordinary creator of music and painting has become a kind of abstract symbol for
the young generation of Lithuanians, an icon worshipped out of habit and apparently
not to be touched.
At first sight Čiurlionis seems one of the least expected recipients of musical
respect from composer Arturas Bumšteinas and jazz musician Liudas Mockūnas
– particularly “informal” artists. In many of his projects Bumšteinas has used
some material (concepts, graphic scores and samples) of other artists, among them
composers. He moved very naturally from the realm of music to contemporary art,
and today is considered the most active and versatile personality on the Lithuanian
interdisciplinary and sound art scene. Mockūnas, who has been credited with the
title of a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist of jazz and contemporary music, has created
a unique style of playing the wind instruments. Both creators of “Voicescapes” are
hardly reminiscent of the solitary genius, but if we discard the stereotypes, we will
see more than one parallel with Čiurlionis’s personality: the artists are eager to try
new things without limiting themselves to their genre – their talent is best revealed
in joint cross-genre and interdisciplinary projects carried out in collaboration with
other creators. Both Bumšteinas and Mockūnas follow the work of the genius freely,
without placing too much meaning on it. It should not consider it arrogance, or a wish
to obtain “added value” by taking advantage of the prominent name as a trademark
without much effort, and to jump headlong on board the fast train of modernization.
The trace of Čiurlionis in “Voicescapes” is generalized and abstract – on the background
of fragments of choir pieces sung by the choir “Jauna muzika” (conductor Vaclovas
Augustinas), electronic and acoustic sounds, noises, and improvisations it can be
also understood as an allusion to “The Creation of the World”, as if a kind of time
machine would have transferred Čiurlionis into our nuclear age. We can only guess if
Čiurlionis would have taken interest in synthesizers, or if he would have collaborated
with contemporary jazz musicians. However, bearing in mind his interdisciplinarity,
very progressive for his times, and his inquisitiveness for various art forms (music,
art, photography), we are tempted to think that he would not have found the artistic
expression of “Voicescapes” strange, all the more that as a musician and pianist Čiurlionis
felt fondness for improvisation.
The creative adventurousness of the authors of “Voicescapes”, their indirect and informal
relation with Čiurlionis’s work paradoxically does not obscure the glow of the genius, but
on the contrary, remove him from the pantheon of the canonized saints of art and place
him in the urgent present.
The composition “Voicescapes” was created on commission from the “Semplice” label
and is dedicated to the 100th death anniversary of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis
(1875–1911). Its premiere took place during the opening concert of the international
festival “Vilnius Jazz 2011” at the Church of St. Catherine in Vilnius on 11 October 2011.