Songs from the Baltic Coast - for All Those Who Are Interested in Folk Songs
Our new sheet music book Songs from the Baltic Coast is a compilation of folk arrangements by composers Martynas Bialobžeskis, Zita Bružaitė, Jūra Elena Šedytė, Raminta Šerkšnytė, and Laimis Vilkončius, who have revealed here their personal – and refreshingly new – feelings towards Lithuanian vocal legacy.
“Folk songs live on when they are sung. A simple truism which encouraged me to work on a new compilation of songs that, I believe, will help young people discover the plentiful world of folk music.” – says the compiler of the book, vocalist and educator Gintarė Skerytė.
“I started singing Lithuanian folk songs – mostly arranged ones – back when I was a student at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Later I decided to include them in my concert programmes. Later still, I became interested in music by contemporary Lithuanian composers, and it was not until just a few years ago that I started singing a number of authentic Lithuanian folk songs during my performances. It was a time, it now seems to me, when I truly discovered the innermost meanings of their texts and the beauty of their melodies. Soon afterwards, I started digging for less popular and rarely performed songs.
A friend of mine, the ethnomusicologist Austė Nakienė, suggested that I turn my eyes to the region of western Lithuania, near the Curonian Lagoon. This is how I came across Dainų Balsai (Song Tunes), a book by Christian Bartsch published in Lithuanian in 2000, and a compilation of songs from western Lithuania recorded between 1935 and 2000 (Klaipėdos krašto dainos ir muzika: 1935-2000 metų įrašai). I chose several pieces and approached Gediminas Dapkevičius, the electronic music composer, asking him to join in a project of electroacoustic music, the results of which were a new recording.
More recently, in 2022, I was carried away by a new idea. As a singing teacher and a jury member at vocal competitions, I had noticed that the folk repertoire was very limited with most people choosing from a narrow selection of songs, many of which were arranged and became popular back in the twentieth century. I realised that young performers need more songs and new arrangements. “It would be great to invite contemporary composers,” I pondered in the spring, “to arrange their favourite folk songs from western Lithuania to give them new ‘outfits’ reflecting each composer’s distinct musical style.” “Please feel entirely free,” I wrote to them a little later, “in expressing your musical ideas and preserving our cultural heritage.”
It’s autumn now and I am holding in my hands Pamario Dainos (Songs from the Baltic Coast). The release is for all those who are interested in folk songs, including vocal teachers and students. The songs, all within the main octave or slightly beyond it, are comfortable to sing and should not pose any major problems for vocalists. Now the release is in your hands. Just turn the page – with a smile.”