Rūta Vitkauskaitė, PhD, is a composer, and researcher into collaborative composition. Her works span from ensemble and orchestral, to collaborative opera in the dark, to experimental projects for one listener. Her interest in community projects resulted in Walking Opera, and currently she is running CoMA – Contemporary Music for All, Glasgow branch.
What drew you to a career in music?
As a child, I was enrolled to attend a specialised music school by my parents, to play violin – even though, I had other dreams, such as being a cosmonaut, astronomer, traveler, or herbalist. At the age of 15, I was entitled to (compulsory) composition lesson. I was amazed that it is possible to ‘study’ this very special, unique, skill – up till then, I thought you were supposed to be ‘born’ as a composer. I immediately knew it was my path, and I never looked back – being a composer, meant I was allowed to imagine, to dive and swim in music, to be in music full time, without needing to practice an instrument. It also meant a massive responsibility – I knew how powerful music is as subconscious tool of communicating meanings, and I was worried whether I was a good enough person to master such a powerful tool.
How would you describe your work?
Music is my medium, and I work with it in many ways – through imagination, writing scores, creating participatory events, often with surround music aspects, through workshops for amateurs and children, through improvising and collaborating with other artists, through teaching and inspiring others.
What positive and negative effects have you found lockdown has had on your work?
Lockdown was a massive change in lifestyle, and as any significant change, it affected my work – it was hard to focus, to draw plants, to create and stick to schedules, – everything seemed to be in bits and pieces. A few months in, I started to get hang of it, and our society adapted to online meeting routine, I then saw all the positive that lockdown brought – mainly, without needing to travel, I now saved heaps of energy, money and time: all of this I now invest into being creative!
Watch an interview with Rūta and musicologist Ilmė Vyšniauskaitė for Sound and Music:
And read this interview by Ugnius Babinskas, where Rūta talks about changing the traditional role of the audience in performance and what academic music looks like today.
Listen to some of Ruta’s work on Soundcloud:
Rūta’s piece Kragraga for 8 instruments and conductor, commissioned by GGR Betong, is available to buy as a download, CD or Vinyl on Bandcamp.
”Some parts of the score have headlines like ”The Swirl”, ”The Fight”, or ”The Beautiful Melodies”, which
has opened up discussions and also downright physical dramas on stage. Vitkauskaite’s work is eccentric,
philosophical, and a blast to play”.
Watch a performance of Rūta’s piece Kilbarchan, for musicians in lockdown:
This, and some of Rūta’s other scores are available to buy from the SMC online shop
Rūta Vitkauskaitė’s (b.1984) musical interests are widely varied – while working in the field of classical composition, she has also dedicated much of her time for research in collaborative music creation and music personalisation. Ruta has recently received PhD in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she focused on audience engagement and collective music creation. Her collaborative electro-acoustic opera for blind-folded audience, Confessions, created by Spatial Opera Company has won Golden Stage Cross in Lithuania, and since then has toured across Lithuania, Sweden and EU with 47 shows to date. Her Walking Opera, (opera co-created with local communities and presented as sound-walk around local areas), has been premiered in Aarhus Capital of Culture 2017, and re-created in Notting Hill, London. Her ensemble and orchestral compositions have been five times awarded as Best Composition of the Year by Lithuanian Composer’s Union, while her music has been performed in festivals across EU, including Gaudeamus, Operadagen (NL), Apeldoorn, Sound (UK), Nordbeg, BZZZ, Halland (SE), Gaida, NOA (LT), Q-O2 Winter fest (BE), SUSA (DK) and elsewhere, and has been broadcast on Lithuanian National TV, LRT Classic, BBC Radio 3, Deutschlandradio Kultur (a special one hour long portrait) and many independent radio stations.
Ruta has also been active initiator of experimental music projects, from collaborative groups to large scale festivals: she was director of Druskomanija festival and workshop series the Process in Lithuania for several years, facilitator of New Music Incubator in Nordic and Baltic countries and across EU, facilitator and tutor at ComposersPlus summer academy in Lithuania, and currently – initiator of CoMA, Contemporary Music for All, Glasgow branch.