Grammy-nominated pianist Andrius Žlabys has received international acclaim for his appearances with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Rotterdam Symphony, and Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires.He is a featured soloist in "Between two Waves" by Victor Kissine for piano and string orchestra released on ECM in 2013 in collaboration with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica.In 2012 Andrius Žlabys made his concerto debut at the Salzburg Festival performing Mozart’s Concerto K.467 with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra conducted by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla.
Andrius Žlabys—born in Lithuania and trained at the Curtis Institute of Music—was 18 years old when the Chicago Tribune wrote: “Pianist-composer Andrius Žlabys is one of the most gifted young keyboard artists to emerge in years.” Žlabys was also heralded by The New York Sun in a review titled “A Shining Hope of Pianists” after his recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Žlabys’s artistry has received many other accolades from the press for his performances of “easy virtuosity” (The Strad), “generous and all encompassing“ sound (The Philadelphia Inquirer),“spell-binding interpretation” (The Plain Dealer) and his “wealth of musical perception” (The Greenville News). This international acclaim has followed his uniquely honest approach to music, as described by The Philadelphia Inquirer: “The beloved C-major chord... rippled off Žlabys' hands with such open-hearted rightness that you couldn't escape the notion that the pianist was acting as Bach's ventriloquist...”
Mr. Žlabys’s concerts have included appearances on many of the world’s leading stages, such as Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Phillips Collection, Teatro Colón, Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein and Suntory Hall. He has also appeared at numerous festivals both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Menuhin, Salzburg, Lockenhaus and Caramoor music festivals, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at the Isaac Stern Auditorium with the New York Youth Symphony conducted by Misha Santora in 2001 in a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. He was also invited the following season as soloist with Kremerata Baltica to perform Benjamin Britten’s Young Apollo at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. Andrius Žlabys has enjoyed collaborations with several esteemed musicians, including violist Yuri Bashmet, violinist Hilary Hahn, and an enduring collaboration with violinist Gidon Kremer with whom Zlabys has toured extensively in Europe, Japan, South America, and the U.S.
In 2003, Žlabys received a Grammy nomination for his recording of Enescu’s Piano Quintet with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica. A multifaceted musician of wide-ranging repertoire, Andrius Žlabys holds a special reverence for J. S. Bach, while remaining a strong advocate for the contemporary stage with numerous works commissioned by and written for him. He was a winner of 2000 Astral Artists National auditions.
Andrius Žlabys began piano studies at the age of six in his native Lithuania with Laima Jakniuniene at the Ciurlionis Art School, and continued his studies in the U.S. with Victoria Mushkatkol (Interlochen Arts Academy), Seymour Lipkin (Curtis Institute of Music), Sergei Babayan (Cleveland Institute of Music), and Claude Frank (Yale School of Music).
The works of composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė have been lauded as “breathtaking…profoundly moving” by San Francisco Classical Voice, while The Wire praises her for “complex structures of perception and rich textures of experience” and “stimulating music that bristles with energy and tension.” Her music revolves around the subject of beauty, which she calls both a guiding principle and an aesthetic measure for sonic quality.
Her name might be difficult to pronounce, but the beautiful and rigorously built music of Lithuanian composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (zhih-BWAH-kleh mar-tin-ay-TEE-tay) falls easy on the ears, Tom Huizenga wrote announcing her album "Saudade" among the NPR Top 10 Classical Albums of 2021. Released on Ondine, the album "Saudade" gained the composer wide critical acclaim with reviews in the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine, San Francisco Classical Voice, Limelight Magazine and many others. Gramophone Magazine featured the album trailer as a video of the day. "Martinaitytė’s orchestral language is rich, colorful and textured with fine detail. This album makes the case for Martinaitytė as one of today’s most distinctive orchestral composers."(NPR)
In February 2022 the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Santtu-Matias Rouvali gives the US premiere of the title piece Saudade from this album. The composer explains that Saudade in Portuguese means a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves..."In my personal experience this notion of Saudade symbolizes the stratum of multiple yearnings—the death of my father and my immigration to the USA. For the last decade this thread of longing has been woven into my life, coloring all experiences.". As music journalist Frank J. Oteri puts it in the liner notes for the album, Martinaitytė’s music “conjures both the imposing grandeur and the fragile minutiae of the external and the internal world.”
Based in New York City, Žibuoklė Martinaitytė has been making inroads in the U.S. with her music emerging at festivals and an appearance on radio host John Schaefer's New Sounds. In 2020 she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious Lithuanian Government Award for her creative work. Her solo CD In Search of Lost Beauty.... released on the Starkland label in 2019, received 2 gold medals at the Global Music Awards for Best Composer and Best Album.
Given by WQXR radio the name of "textural magician", Žibuoklė creates subtly changing multi-layered textures of sounds that have become the generative structural force of her music. BBC magazine stated that "a fascination with timbre and texture central to Martinaitytė’s creative purpose: music is an art of time, yet she is more interested in exploring sound through moment-by-moment shifts in foreground and background than through linear processes."
Žibuoklė's music revolves around the notion of beauty. Seeking to revive this essential aesthetic category and as a fight against our ever-shortening attention span, she created an hour-long audiovisual project In Search of Lost Beauty (2016) for piano trio, electronics and video projections. The reviewers noted that this piece is "a gorgeous, slowly-building suite that invites listeners to lose track of time... when the journey is over, one is stunned to realize that seventy minutes have passed" (A Closer Listen, 2019) and that "Martinaitytė’s imagination is most acute when focused on an extended timespan and broader aural canvas" (Gramophone magazine, April 2019). She continued to dive deeper into longer durations of time, composing another hour-long piece Hadal Zone (2021) for low range instruments (tuba, bass clarinet, contrabass, cello, piano) and electronics. It is an immersive sonic journey through various gradations of darkness - low frequencies and the resulting overtones as a metaphor for descending into the depths of the ocean.
Žibuoklė's explorations of sonic beauty, often expressed through micro-polyphonically layered textures of shimmering harmonic overtones, are revealed in Chiaroscuro Trilogy (2017) for piano and chamber orchestra, Chant des Voyelles (2018) for a capella choir commissioned by VOLTI, San Francisco, Millefleur (2018) and Catharsis (2021) for symphony orchestra, Sielunmaisema (2019) and Nunc fluens. Nunc stans. (2020) for chamber orchestra with cello and percussion.
Four of her lavish orchestral opuses for philharmonic venues - A Thousand Doors To The World, Horizons, Millefleur and Sielunmaisema received the Lithuanian Composers Union Award as Best Orchestral Performances for 2009, 2013, 2018 and 2019. A Thousand Doors To The World was commissioned by the Lithuanian National Radio to celebrate Vilnius as the Culture Capital of Europe in 2009. The premiere was broadcast by Euroradio – one of the “largest virtual concerts halls” with 4 million listeners.
Her orchestral and large ensemble works were released on the solo CD Horizons by the Lithuanian Music Information Center in December, 2017. Covering the "Blue period", which coincided with her move to the US, these pieces (especially Completely Embraced by the Beauty of Emptiness for large ensemble or The Blue of Distance for a cappella choir) comprise emotional dichotomies of tension and longing resulting from the identity based on cultural ambiguities. According to the musicologist Linas Paulauskis "the reappearing leitmotifs in Martinaitytė's work are emptiness, loneliness, silence, tranquility, transience, longing, memories, distances.... And these are never empty sentimental words - the existential anxiety and blissful sadness emanating from her music are what convinces."(Lithuanian Music Link, 2019)
Having started her creative career in Europe for the last decade Žibuoklė’s activity has been rooted in the USA. In 2008 the MATA festival commissioned her to write the piece Polarities for the Knights Chamber Orchestra. She received commissions from the Barlow Endowment (2012), Look+Listen festival (2017), Volti (2018), Bang On A Can Marathon (2020), a fellowship for the Other Minds festival (2011) and the New Works residency at Harvestworks, New York (2016). Her first USA orchestral performance of Horizons took place at the Composers Inc. concert in Berkeley, California (2015). In 2012 she received the “Look+Listen” Composers Competition Prize (NYC) for the piece “Driving Force”. In 2017 she was granted the Copland House Sylvia Goldstein award and the Composers Now award for residency at the Pocantico Center, NY. She has received a number of fellowships for creative residencies at the MacDowell Colony (2009, 2011, 2019), Aaron Copland House (2010, 2019), Millay Colony (2012), The Blue Mountain Center (2015), Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France (2015), Djerassi Artists Residency (2017), Willapa Bay residency (2018) and Bogliasco Foundation in Italy (2021).
Žibuoklė studied composition at the Lithuanian Music Academy (BM, MA) with Bronius Kutavičius and Julius Juzeliūnas. Constantly attempting to broaden her horizons and advancing her compositional technique after completing formal studies, Martinaitytė has been taking part in various composition workshops and courses in Europe. She attended the Darmstadt New Music Summer Courses, Centre Acanthes/Ircam, Royaumont, The 6th International Academy for New Composition and Audio Art in Schwaz, Tirol and The Orchestral Composition course in Stavanger, studying with Brian Ferneyhough, Boguslaw Schaffer, Magnus Lindberg, Tristan Murail and Jonathan Harvey. In 2001 she was granted her first creative residency at the Künstlerhaus Lukas der Stiftung Kulturfonds, Germany.
Žibuoklė is primarily active in chamber and orchestral music genres. She favors unconventional blends of timbres, expressive virtuosity, intense utilization of extreme instrumental registers, which often stretch the maximum boundaries and technical capabilities of performers. In her scores exceptional roles are typically given to such instruments as tuba, trombone, accordion or bassoon. The composer extracts these instruments from the utmost ends of the orchestra and transforms them into a limelight of indispensable notability.
Martinaitytė’s instrumental techniques are exemplified by pieces such as – Salto Mortale (1993) for 2 contrabasses and organ, A Desert (1996) for 3 trombones, tuba, piano and bell. Later in the piece Between for trombone, trumpet and percussion performed in France in 2000 by members of the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne de Montreal and in Attention! High Tension! (2001) for tuba and piano which received more than 50 performances throughout Lithuania. Starting from 2004 as a result of her collaboration with Lithuanian accordionist Raimondas Sviackevičius, the accordion played a significant role in her music for the next few years. In 2004 “Gaida” contemporary music festival in Lithuania commissioned her to write Driving Force for trombone, tenor saxophone and accordion. In 2006 she was commissioned to write a concerto for accordion and a chamber orchestra called Breakthrough performed by Sviackevičius and The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. This led to an even more interesting event where conductor Daniel Gazon (Belgium) proposed a commission to write a piece for 6 accordions, 5 saxophones, wind orchestra, percussion, piano and strings called Perpetual Pulsing Transience (performed in Brussels, Belgium by the Orchestra of Royal Conservatory of Mons and published by Musikproduktion Höflich, Germany). Some of her chamber works reflect the aesthetics of the high tension period - Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (2017) for 2 pianos and 2 percussionists, Gridlock (2013) for clarinet, cello and piano; American Hodgepodge (2011) for ensemble and electronics, and Osmosis (2015) for brass sextet.
In addition to writing for acoustic instruments, Martinaitytė has been developing an ongoing interest in electronic music. Since 1998 when she composed the piece Being without for cello, percussion and live electronics, she has been returning to this expanded palette. Her chamber opera based on Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf composed from 1995-2003 also uses an electronic tape part accompanying the chamber orchestra and singers. Combining her love for brass instruments with an electronic medium, she created Ab Initio (2004) for tuba and tape, which consisted entirely of bird sounds. Among her other electronic pieces performed at the electronic music festival “Jauna Muzika” in Lithuania are The Unknown (2005) for soprano, flute, live electronics and tape, Illusions of Time and Space (2006) for string quartet and electronics and Continuity-Discontinuity (11:11-11:22) (2008) for 4 bassoons and tape. Her collaborations with electronic music composer True Rosaschi resulted in 2 projects: 1+1=∞ (2011) for 2 cellos, piano, live electronics and audio cubes and an immersive audiovisual installation Vanishing Lands (M-Islands) (2016) for spatialized sound (10 speakers) and 2 video projections. The latter is based on the notion of disappearing places in the world due to global warming and rising sea levels.
Martinaitytė's music has been performed throughout Europe, The USA and Asia by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Bruckner Orchester Linz (Austria), Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Canada), The Smith Quartet (UK), ERGO Ensemble (Canada), TILT Brass (USA), Yarn/Wire (USA), VOLTI, San Francisco, The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Synaesthesis Ensemble and others.