Daiva Parulskienė, 2011-09-02
George Vass and Presteigne Festival Orchestra
Navarra String Quartet
Royal Holloway University Choir conducted by Rupert Gough
Main hall of the festival - St.Andrew Church in Presteigne town
English composer and pianist John McCabe and Zita Bružaitė
Conversation about works performed in the festival: David Matthews, Cecilia McDowell, George Vass, Zita Bružaitė, Adrian Williams

In brief: The 29th music festival took place in Presteigne town in the United Kingdom on August 25-30. This year it was dedicated to contemporary music from Lithuania. It is an event focusing on English musical culture but open to music of other countries as well. One third of the festival programme is dedicated to classical music and modernism of the 20th century, and young but accomplished British performers play works of contemporary composers of various generations in the remaining part of the programme.

Hundreds of people arrive to the festival lasting six days every year. Concerts, conversations, lectures, screenings of musical films become the main attraction of the town during these days. All 24 events of the festival programme were attended by a large number of people. It was the fifth or even the tenth Presteigne Festival for the majority of them.

This year the festival was dedicated to Lithuanian music. 20 works of Lithuanian classical and contemporary music were performed during it. Zita Bružaitė was invited as one of several composers residing in the festival, and she created the composition "Cum spe" at the order of the festival. Sonnets and dances of this composer were also performed in the festival and enjoyed great recognition from the audience.

A reviewer described “Music of Silent Things” of Ramūnas Motiekaitis as "a weave of muted string sounds, waves and spots”, and he heard “an unusual intoxicating whirlpool of notes” in the Quartet No. 3 of Vytautas Bacevičius.

Actually, Lithuanian music brought some oddity and freshness into the rather conservative English programme, and the impressive Sextet of Vytautas Barkauskas received the greatest applause and the most of "bravos". The opus was performed by Navarra String Quintet along with the Welsh pianist and composer Huw Watkins.

The audience that gathered to the discussions questioned about many things: how Lithuanian music appeared in the festival programme, what influenced the composers’ works, what the present situation of composers was and how the educational system functioned. Listeners were also interested in historical circumstances, historical relations between Lithuania and Poland and the family history of the composer Vytautas Bacevičius.

According to the festival organiser and former of the programme George Vass, he took active interest in the Lithuanian theme in the festival. “After the successful visit of the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks several years ago, I was interested in continuing this theme by the Lithuanian music, especially having in mind that no more thorough review of music of this country had been made in any festival. Also, I was sure that the listeners of Presteigne were ready to hear something more unusual.”

Two concerts of the festival (of choir music and Navarra String Quartet) were recorded by BBC Radio 3; concerts will be broadcast in October and November.

The 30th jubilee festival of the next year will be dedicated to the British music, old and new, to music of the 20th century and to the standard classical repertoire.

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