The 100th anniversary of Iannis Xenakis will be celebrated at the Concert Hall “Latvija”

09.05.2022 - 09:29
On 29 May, the round anniversary of the outstanding Greek composer, architect and unorthodox Iannis Xenakis will be celebrated by a spectacular two-part concert “Εκατό Χρόνια” or “One Hundred Years” in Ventspils, at the Concert Hall “Latvija”.
The 100th anniversary of Iannis Xenakis will be celebrated at the Concert Hall “Latvija”
On 29 May 1922, Iannis Xenakis arrived on the Earth. Of course, he was born, moreover - in the Rumanian city Braila, not in Greece. It is always risky to try speaking about his personality, handwriting, heritage left both in music, and in architecture, using the usual vocabulary and an already approved style. It is risky to fall into traps of half-truths, banalities or, completely opposite - over-intellectual and narrow specific concepts and structures. Reconciling with the fact that vast majority of us can only imagine, what it means to be "Iannis Xenakis", and limits are never desirable for imagination, also the assumption that he arrived on the Earth is valid. From somewhere, not from our planet.

Through imagination and conceding their art as their own capabilities, musicians, artists and dancers will gather in Ventspils on the birthday of the prominent sound creator, to offer in a two-part concert their versions of what it means to be active inhabitants, listeners and viewers of the world of Iannis Xenakis at the same time, and celebrate this day. 
In the introduction of Sunday, at 14.00, three chamber compositions of the composer will be performed at the Small Hall of the Concert Hall. The violinist Marta Spārniņa will interpret the twin compositions "Mikka" and "Mikka S" for solo violin. After that, the virtuoso Russian pianist Mikhail Bouzine will read "Evryali" or "Open Sea" for piano - a composition, about which, after completing it and dedicating to the French pianist Marie-Françoise Bucquet, the composer has said: "Here, take a look! And, if you think that you can do something with it, play it!" Whereas the composition "Okho" for three percussions with choreography designed by the temporary dance tandem "IevaKrish" will be interpreted by the well known percussion trio "Giunter Percussion" from Vilnius.

Continuation of the anniversary celebrations, the second part and culmination will start at the Great Hall of the Concert Hall "Latvija" at 18.00, when for the first time in Latvia the monumental composition "Pléïades" by Iannis Xenakis will be performed by the sextet, composed of Latvian percussionists Guntars Freibergs, Elvijs Endelis and Miks Bāliņš or ¾ of "Perpetuum Ritmico", as well as Lithuanian percussionists Pavel Giunter, Sigitas Gailius and Andrius Rekasis. The composition created for the ballet "Kraannerg" in 1978, ordered by the ensemble "Percussions de Strasbourg", is considered not only the creative peak in the instrumental music of the composer himself, but also a test for the extreme limits of performers. There is even confidence among experts that this composition is a benchmark for determining, what one or another band is worth, and, as for a benchmark, there are no other similar works. It has to be said though that this cosmic composition does not demand as much from the listener as from musicians, as an almighty force of nature allowing to touch it and take a breathtaking plunge in it. As a giant waterfall, which you can walk under in many places around the world. Or a storm, during which you are tempted to walk to the very end of a breakwater. "A lot". One of the options, seemingly, deliberately implemented by Xenakis to interpret the title of the composition. A lot of everything - instruments, sounds, tones, tempos, emotions, information. A lot of musicians and master's work, creating the special metal percussion instruments "sixxen", required for performance of the composition. A lot of majesty. A lot just like a whole pleiad of stars in the sky, in the Taurus constellation. 

The scenography of the anniversary concerts is created by the artist Miķelis Fišers together with his colleague Ieva Stalšene. Imagining the world that will celebrate the 300th anniversary of Iannis Xenakis, the scenographer says:

"In 2222, the last Mutant Wars on the Earth are over a long time ago. Unbelievably, but aliens have saved 8 musicians and two dancers from a nuclear genocide, and these artists now perform in intergalactic concerts for music lovers. In order to transport the stage artists in the intergalactic space, they are held in the Slow Time cocoons, in anabiosis. Considering the post-traumatic shock, the civilization organising such guest performances considers useful to broadcast for these musicians a simulation that they are still on the Earth, in a permanently existing time loop before a catastrophe. These concerts serve as a call for music lovers to take a step back into the universe and enjoy Xenakis' compositions in the intergalactic panorama outside the linear flow of time!"It seems insignificant - in time, space, universe, intergalactic or elsewhere, but some music critic has once aptly said about traveling as self-challenge and deliberate going into the unknown, when speaking about what it means "to be Xenakis:" 

"Beethoven described nature in his Pastoral Symphony, Sibelius was stunned by nature in his Tapiola, but Xenakis had to come to turn music into nature. During holidays in Corsica, he paddled his canoe straight into the storm. As far as he himself and his paddles could hold on. When listening to his music, you also travel outside, towards the epicentre of the musical storm, which gives strength, inspires and instils awe. Meet you there, outside!"

Tickets to Iannis Xenakis' anniversary concerts on 29 May in Ventspils, at the Concert Hall "Latvija", can be acquired in "Biļešu paradīze" sales network. Separate tickets for each part of the concert, and a full subscription ticket for both concerts at a more favourable price are on sale.Anniversary concerts "Εκατό Χρόνια" or "One Hundred Years" are possible thanks to financial support by the Embassy of Greece in Latvia and Ventspils National City Council.The grand work by Iannis Xenakis "Pléïades" for a percussion sextet, performed by "Les Percussions de Strasbourg":

 Pianist Mikhail Bouzine performs the composition "Evryali" in a concert:

Photo: Michèle Daniel (1970)Concert Hall "Latvija" online: