The Conversations in the Great Hall with composers Mindaugas Urbaitis and Raminta Naujanytė-Bjelle
What can unite and what can set apart composers belonging to different generations? What kind of dialogue would you expect between the teacher and his yesterday’s student and today’s colleague? On April 18, the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre hosted an event within The Conversations in the Great Hall – a series of dialogues between artists representing different generations – with composers Mindaugas Urbaitis and Raminta Naujanytė-Bjelle. This free event held in the LMTA Great Hall was led by musicologist Rasa Murauskaitė-Juškienė.
Mindaugas Urbaitis is an LMTA professor and Raminta Naujanytė is an LMTA doctoral student. There is no doubt she has attended Professor Urbaitis’s classes and listened to the radio programmes Modus that Professor Urbaitis, together with composer Šarūnas Nakas, have been presenting for decades. Today, however, Raminta Naujanytė-Bjelle is not merely a music creator, but a performer who also expresses herself in the field of experimental pop music, while Mindaugas Urbaitis is an “academic” composer who doesn’t not appear on the stage (except for interviews where he acts as a host or an interlocutor). So, is there a “genetic” connection between composers of different generations, who yet belong to the same, Lithuanian, music composition school?
Mindaugas Urbaitis (b. 1952) is one of the most consistent and, as the Music Information Centre Lithuania Mic.lt states, the most radical minimalists in Lithuania whose creative thinking was once strongly influenced by early American minimalism. Mic.lt says that at the beginning of the creative career, Urbaitis’ extended compositions based on the constant repetition of barely changing material would cause outrage. In the late 1980s, the musical language of the composer became less ascetic, and his compositions started to be based on certain recognisable motifs of composers of the past (Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, Piazzola). Among Urbaitis’ variety of genres, we can find ballets (Acid City, The Process (Lt. Procesas)) that have led to successful productions on the national stage.
In 1975, M. Urbaitis graduated from the then Lithuanian State Conservatory, in the composition class of Professor Julius Juzeliūnas. Today M. Urbaitis teaches at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and his lectures are dedicated to the European music after 1945, 20th-century U.S. music, and new composition techniques. In 1991-1996, M. Urbaitis was vice-president and president of the Agency of the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association (LATGA).
The current president of LATGA is Raminta Naujanytė-Bjelle (b. 1991). Currently an LMTA doctorate student, Raminta entered the Academy in 2011, and it is worth noting that Raminta’s first choice was choir conducting, but in the second year she switched to academic composition. For her master’s studies, Raminta chose digital creation, and today among numerous creative trends of this versatile artist we can also find experimental pop. Recently, Bjelle’s experiments in playing interactive gloves, which is also related to her doctoral research, have become especially intriguing. Raminta has studied composition with Dr. Mykolas Natalevičius and Prof. Dr. Mārtiņš Viļums, with whom she continues her doctorate studies. In 2018, she went to Iceland within Erasmus programme and, although she does recollect this period as particularly inspiring, it also helped her appreciate all the positive aspects of music education in Lithuania.
By the way, the 2nd-floor lobby of the LMTA Central Building invites you to the exhibition 90 Pauses. Catch Your Luck! where you can see the mementos presented by Raminta Naujanytė and Mindaugas Urbaitis: Raminta’s coloured face imprint, glass bottle neck, and rings for performing interactive music, as well as Urbaitis’ so-called “half-diploma” marking completion of the first half of the studies awarded to students in Musicology and Composition during the celebration held on 3 March 1973.
The Conversations in the Great Hall with Mindaugas Urbaitis and Raminta Naujanyte-Bjelle took place on Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Gedimino ave. 42).
English translation by Viltė Gridasova
18 April 2023