Excourse, Discourse and Discussion
A scientific conference "The significance (the role and place) of a context, discourse, intertextuality and deconstruction in a composing process", devoted to the problems of contemporary music took place in the Baku Museum Centre within the 5th International Qara Qarayev Contemporary Music Festival.
Five reports were presented to the attention of the audience covering versatile issues of contemporary musicology and modern challenges of cultural heritage. All the topics were burning. The curator of the project was Rauf Farkhadov, the Doctor of Arts and a leading expert of the Association of Contemporary Music. Asking tough questions, he masterfully provoked the audience to hot debates.
A famous Azerbaijani musicologist, a member of the European Cultural Parliament and a Director of the Culture and Arts Program of the Institute "Open Society FS – Azerbaijan" Jahangir Selimkhanov in his speech titled "Sinfonia by Luciano Berio and manifestations of multiple cultural identities in in our times" shared his revelations on the general cultural context of the XXI century. According to Selimkhanov, the Berio's Symphony is the key to understanding the whole art of XX century. This composition appeared in the symbolic year for the world of culture of 1968, is still striking in its multidimensionality, textual and structural polyphony. The essay by Roland Barthes "The Death of the Author", a bold manifesto of postmodernism, became a cultural overtone of the Symphony. So what happened after the postmodernism? Selimkhanov answers this question in his report as follows:
Jahangir Selimkhanov: "XXI century has brought a new sensation that the art theorists tend to define differently. The current state of culture in the Netherlands is being called 'oscillation' or constant throbbing. This is not a balancing over a precipice, but a permanent being in the field of opposites, between the desire of modernist feelings and doubts about these feelings, between a sincere desire to change the world and postmodern irony, between mastership and conceptualism. Today we are not witnesses of the postmodernism any more, we are in a completely new situation. Most scientists say that the driving force in the current environment is empathy, as opposed to postmodernist apathy. If 20-30 years ago it was still possible to make a sociological portrait of a spectator of a classical music concert for example, now the main feature of a listener is openness to all phenomena of art".
The Berio's Symphony with its collage structure and a large number of simultaneously sounding layers was a herald of a number of contemporary phenomena. According to the Selimkhanov's apt remark, its sound generates the same effect as that of chaotic channels switching with flickering frames. By the way, the Symphony for eight voices and orchestra by Luciano Berio will be performed on April 19 at the Closing Ceremony of the 5th International Qara Qarayev Contemporary Music Festival.
A musicologist Ketevan Bolashvili (Georgia) in the situation of cultural multiplicity sought guidance for understanding the works of another avant-garde composer of the second half of the XX century Pierre Boulez. Capacious quotes and sayings of the composer and his contemporaries about him, demonstrated on the projection screen, helped the audience to take a fresh look at the figure of the French master. Today, Boulez is so much honored figure in the music world that it is almost impossible to estimate how really radical he used to be, for his indestructible authority overshadows many aspects. However, we would underestimate saying that his musical style was mollified in the previous years; even today he often conducts works that were previously considered completely alien to his own aesthetics. Who knows, maybe in the future we will hear not only Debussy, Stravinsky and Schönberg but also Verdi and Glinka performed by the French maestro?
Whether this or that composer becomes known to the general public depends also greatly on the festival policy. A music critic and a permanent observer of the Moscow daily newspaper "Gazeta", a member of the Expert Council of the Russian National Theatre Award "Golden Mask" and a member of the St. Petersburg Union of Composers Gyulyara Sadykh-Zadeh in her report entitled "Who is on the Crest? New Music in Academic Programs of European Festivals" wrote about the latest trends in the industry of representative forums and modern music, the mechanisms of selection of compositions. Professionally Gyulyara Sadykh-Zadeh visits more than ten festivals in one season. She has highlighted several names, which are often presented in the world's concert programs: Philippe Manoury, Brian Ferneyhough, John Adams, and Salvatore Sciarrino.
Gyulyara Sadykh-Zadeh: "The program of the 5th International Qara Qarayev Contemporary Music Festival not only correlates with the subject of my report, but also with a modern festival situation. It corresponds to the current trends and accurately reflects the whole range of phenomena that are present today in the musical life".
The theme of the latest trends in music was continued by a musicologist from Moscow Doctor of Arts Anna Amrakhova. Her report entitled "Formation Peculiarities in Modern Music. Cognitive Aspect" has caused a mixed reaction from the scientific public and attracted to debates a president of the Contemporary Music Association Victor Ekimovsky who was in the hall. Once Steve Jobs said: the "…technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing". In her speech Amrakhova considers the composing processes, or even modeling of music of contemporary composers on the example of the members of such associations as the Contemporary Music Association-2, Resistance of the Material and the Plastic of Sound. Some of the works have been criticized by V. Ekimovsky, in his opinion focusing on the fake novelty of "sound discoveries" and unjustified revival of Modernism in the music of young Russian composers.
The report of Ph.D., Professor of Baku Music Academy Zumrud Dadashzade has caused particular interest and hot debates. She presented her own vision on the creative work of the Azerbaijani music classic Qara Qarayev and raised the thorny issues: how frequently the works of the composer were being performed in modern Azerbaijan, whether the modern composers conformed to the high level shown by the great teacher, how the national elements corresponded to the latest technologies and what awaited Azerbaijani art in the future.
Zumrud Dadashzade: "The wave of interest to the 'outstanding composer of our time', these are the words characterizing Qarayev, already in his lifetime in numerous newspaper and magazine articles over the years, not only decreases, but rather increases involving in its orbit more and more new musicological force. Only in the previous 10-15 years there were made investigations covering the creative work of the composer in the context of the major trends in music of the twentieth century analyzing his polyphonic skill, melodic language, relationships with folklore. When viewed from the XXI century the historical context can not be ignored and the scale of the challenges facing the generation of composers who have started the creative path in the middle of the twentieth century. Taking over the baton from Uzeir Hajibeyli, a founder of modern Azerbaijani musical culture, Qarayev headed the most important parts of the national art, and on the rights of composers' school leader he strongly argued and developed the basic principles of Azerbaijani music aimed at a new synthesis of national traditions with the conquest of the world culture. Any issue he was to decide, whether upholding the new composing technique, helping the young 'in the fight against parvenus' or the creation of new ensembles, everything became, in the apt words of Rodion Shchedrin 'a part of his body, brain, heart, lung, aorta' taking away a lot of time and effort. But Qarayev was such a person: indifferent, mercilessly wasting his nerves, selflessly rushing to help those who 'profess the truth' ".
Taking into consideration the complexity and even painfulness of the questions posed, Dadashzade demonstrated extremely tactful approach of a researcher. The erupted debates seized all the audience. The reasons that prevented the embodiment of many Qaraev's ideas have not been eradicated up to this day. Many problems of Azerbaijani culture have not only lost their relevance, but have become even more acute.
At the end of the meeting organizers of the Qara Qarayev Festival promised to continue pursuing even more ambitious scientific conferences dedicated to the problems of national music and its correlation with the world culture.
Prepared by Elena Kravtsun, Press Center of the Festival