Druskomanijais the oldest festival of contemporary music in Lithuania. It has a unique historical value and forms a very distinctive niche for creative expression of young composers. This annual new music event is organized either by associates of Young Composers’ Section of Lithuanian Composers’ Union or by persons unofficially connected to it.
Since the first event in May 1985 till the Reestablishment of Lithuanian independence in 1990, festival witnessed an early optimistic and adventurous period of growth, radiating with passionate youthful cultural protest against the then official framework of art. A sweeping passion for counteracting, being different and adapting cultural processes that have not been represented in one’s own environment was raging in the air. Musicologist Donatas Katkus wrote: “Students of Vilnius conservatory fled from the official milieu to Druskininkai, to the periphery, being urged by the sweetness of unconventional conducting manners and of contraposition to the prevalent order back then.” Ideas of being western and freedom, as well as awareness of congenial community were per se a position that enabled conceiving the meaning of ones own creative efforts while paying no mind to officially rightful art life.”
Under the altering conditions consequent to the Reestablishment of Independence, Youth Chamber music days in Druskininkai faced a transitional crisis, nevertheless it was organized uninterruptedly (in contrast with the conference for musicologists, an accompanying event of the festival, that lost its tractive force and was terminated several years ago). In this background of geographical and cultural margins creative undertakings still proved a big attraction while the festival could be broadened with new qualities and get rid of lifeless forms.
A crucial breakthrough came by the beginning of 21st century when a new outstanding generation of composers came along and took over organization of the festival. Druksomanija transformed itself into an international event that represents miscellaneous foreign music and magnetizes authors themselves. The festival have already mapped countries of all regions in Europe and several countries from the Americas. Several years ago festival escaped the territory of the resort town and penetrated into calenders of cultural events of other towns, particularly of the capital. Druskomanija was a part of Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009 which was an impulse that prompted various collaborative projects as well as involvement into other programmes from which the most important is Nordplus aiming at collaboration of Nordic and Baltic countries.
In the period of more than 25 years several generations of Lithuanian academic musicians made their debut. Festival served as the very first stage, as the debut scene for many composers, musicologists and performers; it gave them their first creative impulse, quiver of excitement and urge to network. For young evolving artists it is crucial to experience competent performance of their music which in Druskomanija is undertaken by experienced Lithuanian ensembles and enthusiastic companies of young performers that usually interprets pieces composed specially for them.
Programme of academical concerts of acoustic and electronic music is dovetailed with performances of popular rock, jazz or club music artists. Contemporary academic music is performed in unusual venues never used in the capital: restaurants, conference halls of sanatoriums or hotel lobbies and open air spaces. Alongside the traditional genres represented in the traditional concert of orchestra in the church, electronic or audiovisual ideas are realized in the night of “Electromania”, a band or a DJ plays in the concert “Free”, concert of chamber ensemble is arranged in the informal surroundings or everybody is welcome to take a ferry to Liškiava and listen to a concert there. Furthermore, programme of the festival is broadened with new projects every year. Druskomanija‘s events are always free of charge, openand liberal.