Elizabete Beāte Rudzinska: 'Hopefully, the audience members will experience my work as an encyclopaedia of being.' - Composers' Festival interview

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The composition department of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam proudly presents a new edition of the Composers' Festival, from 16-18 May. The Composers' Festival Amsterdam is a platform for the graduating composition students of the CvA to present their best works, most of them being world premieres. The amazing diversity of the concerts offers a great palette of chamber music in various genres: chamber, electronic and organ music, interdisciplinary performances and a campfire piece.

In preparation for the festival, we talked to several participating composers. We asked them about the narratives and inspirations behind their compositions, the challenges they encountered during their creative processes, and their aspirations for the audience's experience.

Kicking off our series of composer interviews, we spoke with master's graduate Elizabete Beāte Rudzinska, who will be presenting three pieces at the festival.

For more information and the timetable of the festival, including Elizabete's presentations, please click here.

Elizabete, can you please explain to us what you’ve created for this years Composers’ Festival, and the story behind it?
"In the festival, I am presenting three works.

‘AGONY’ is a performative chamber music work for five musicians. The subtitle of this performance reads “A tragicomic episode”. This composition walks a very tight line between theatre and music. Regarding this composition even now, at the final stages of the performance, I am not sure what is theatre and what is music in this piece. I feel with this experiment I have come to the closest I have been in the fusion of material, so that it is impossible to define the medium of it.

This piece was created in close and creative collaboration with the performers - Gita Vata León, Jaime Peña Martínez, Fernanda Santoyo, and Néstor Martínez Jara. I was looking for musicians who are strong in their intention and stage presence and can intuitively add voice to the circumstances I had created. In the process of creating this piece, I held sessions with each performer to discover the most creative ways to create sound that would walk the line between musicality and theatricality.

‘Modes of Being’ is a composition for scenography and improvised organ music. In this composition, I present seven states of being - symbolically through pieces of scenography.

This composition is an experiment regarding the effect that a symbol can have over a performer. As an organ performer in this piece, I allow myself to observe the scenography and the story it tells on the stage, and create the musical improvisation based on a deeply concentrated state of being that the scenography pieces evoke in me.

‘Vocations’ is a collaborative effort, created together with Dimitri Geelhoed. This performance is for two performers and sound (electronics with accessories).

Dimitri and I are long-term collaborators, and this performance is a result of the deep artistic connection we have developed over the past six years. Vocations is the most extreme application of minimalistic tendencies I have explored so far."

“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” /John Cage/

What inspired your compositions for this festival?
“All three compositions, just like all of my work for the festival, began with an initial vision that I found very intriguing. Whether sonic, conceptual, or visual, I find it so important to have a strong starting point for every piece, so strong that it can expand to the size of a full performance and carry me and other performers through until the end of the process. If the initial idea is not fully fierce, I can’t justify the need to go through the difficulty of the process that composition demands. It takes extraordinary material to justify the hardship that the creative process can bring. Luckily, with all of these pieces, I knew exactly that.”

Can you describe the challenges you faced while creating your pieces and how you overcame them?
"Creating ‘Vocations’ posed significant challenges due to the extreme demands it places on the performers. Each rehearsal for this piece is physically incredibly difficult. Therefore, it is the intensity and high inner drive that ‘Vocations’ demands which make it particularly difficult. I must highlight our performer Liga Zirina, whose phenomenal dedication and belief in the value of this piece have been instrumental in overcoming these challenges.

For the other pieces I am presenting at the festival, the primary difficulty was approaching the compositional material with enough care to preserve the fragility and spirit that these compositions demand. Ensuring that the essence of each piece remained intact while navigating the experimental nature of the music required dedicated attention and sensitivity during the creative process."

How do you hope your music affects the audience, and what message do you want to send out with your pieces?
I am very grateful for the time the audience gives to my performances. I hope that what I bring to them creates a personal and captivating experience where they can recognise something of themselves. I believe that the drive behind my compositions is universal and known to everyone. Hopefully, the audience members will experience my work as an encyclopaedia of being.”

How has your experience at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam prepared you for this festival and your future career in music?
During my master's studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, I focused on exploring the relationship between music and extra-musical elements, gaining a deeper understanding of music and the creative process. The Conservatorium has been immensely supportive, helping me realise my creative visions and undertake large-scale, ambitious projects. My composition teachers encouraged me to follow my inner creative drive, rather than conforming to conventions. This experience has been invaluable in preparing me not only for the festival but for the direction I want to explore with my compositions.”

Photo credits: Melanie Lemahieu