How is it when the artist is only at the beginning of his or her artistic way? When, as if, everything is still possible? Whom to ask such a question? I think that not an artist who is accomplished, because his or her response will be a memory only, it will be influenced by the decisions already made and by what has happened independently of them. That is why I ask Akvile Sileikaite, a young artist from Lithuania, who studies music in Switzerland, but this is far not everything that she is busy with.
Władysław Rokiciński: People who are comprehensively talented and active in many fields are described as men of Renaissance. At least in Polish, such a term exists. And it is rather a compliment. But there is also the opposite judgment: there is no perfection without specialization.
Akvile Sileikaite: Thank you for your compliment.
The question is very difficult and extremely complex and I can completely understand both sides.
On the one hand, nowadays life is extremely full of new technologies, information, experiences, and many more things, which needs quite precise and good knowledge in details. Therefore, the more a person is interested in his/her field, as much information he/she is getting, learning, the more specific it gets. But to understand the information a person is getting and to understand how to use it, how it is working or why it can be useful, he/she also needs to be quite open to wider view of a subject. This is how it works.
The same is in the field of arts. It is not that one is interested only in music, or only in the visual arts now. It is now more that one is a specialist only in the Baroque music or only in the romantic period. Or it is sometimes even more extreme: only in Chopin, only in List or only Schubert. And on the one side it is really impressive, how people are getting into it with their passion and they really know extremely a lot about it, because the amount of all kinds of information you can reach now is limitless. On the other side, why are we still so passionate about a person of the Renaissance? Because they had all their senses open to everything around them. They were curious about the world around them. It is in a way easier now because we have way much more information than they had, and in a way it is more complicated for us because in this enourmos amount we need to find the information we need. Still, now little by little it happens again that people are interested in more than one subject.
I know myself, that there are some subjects I am highly interested in, but I am also too curious not to try other fields which are thrilling me. People now are so different with their characters and needs, so it is really a good time that we can choose what is better for us.
And finally it comes still to the same thing. If you are good with everything you are doing, it doesn’t matter if you have your interests only in the French Baroque or in a few fields of the arts, you want to spend your time on it. If you are happy and succesful in doing it… Then, why not?
Has it always been like that? What did your artistic passions start from?
As I remember myself or what my parents tell me, yes. It was even worse: I was also attending tennis, dancing, one moment yoga and etc. Now it is a little bit better.
And from where it has started…. Well, my attraction to music, my parents saw that way: I was sensitive to sounds around me. Some time later I started to search on my own, how I feel the best of expressing myself, and found that through colors. Thus, colors in music (as sounds) and in pictures were the best for me. But, what is interesting, when doing photography, I prefer the black and white one. For me it has more expression itself.
Fot. P. Ketterer
In music and painting, you already have artistic achievements, right? And what about their third sister, the youngest, photography? Where is it from?
That is true. I have won some competitions in the fields of music and fine arts, also had my personal exhibitions.
As to the photography, I was curious about it all the time, but just not such a long time ago, around 4 years, I started to get into it really deep. Literature, practice, workshops, lessons, videos, watching works of other photographers… Everything inspires me and makes me learn. But the best is learning by doing.
Now my works in photography are little by little getting their clients: doing reportages of diferent events (mostly concerts), also portraits and portraits of musicians.
However, I would risk to say that music dominates: in Zurich, it is piano that you study. Is it music that you associate your future with?
Yes, now for sure music is taking the biggest part of my life. This is why I am sometimes missing time to do my paintings or photo projects I have in my mind. At the same time, I could not say that it is only music, that I want to do in my future. It is literally as I am doing now: enjoying my life by doing all the things I like. Hope, I can continue like that.
I am not an artist, I do not know what an artist needs most: what skills, what kind of God’s spark, if I may say so. Exactly, this spark: how does it act? Is it so that in each area of art which you know and practise, the type of experience leading to an artistic work is different? Whom should I ask, if not you? You know it, so to say, from inside.
It takes passion.
And probably a bigger number of the artists will say that it is hard work and needs good quality of organising time. There are also a lot of hidden things what listener / viewer / reader etc. does not see. We do not have strict hours of a working day, which can look like: “Oh, so you can do nothing in a day!”… But well. If a day, for example of a hard working musician, starts, let’s say, at 8:00 and ends at 23:00 (or sometimes coming back home after rehearsals or concerts even later), includes crazy amount of hours of practising alone (sometimes we hear: “So you just have notes and can play anything at the moment, yes”? Well, no, if you want good quality), rehearsals with other musicians, ensembles, in orchestras, answering letters of concert organisers, organising the programs for concerts, organising timetables of rehearsals and many other things… Also not mentioning that we need to know the background of pieces/composers we are playing, so it means reading, searching for information about the period, the historic background, the style etc. If it looks like nothing, then yes. And it is seven days in a week. Because people also want to go to the concerts or exhibitions at weekends, don’t they?
I would also like to admit that the work of a musician is pretty much similar to the work of a sportsman: we are also using our body and muscles in an extremely intense way, we cannot do long breaks because we have to stay in shape. We should also be trained psychologically. It is another, a very long topic.
And when members of the public come to attend the artist’s event, they should not think that they are paying only for those two hours of culture. The person is also paying for all the work before.
Finally, I strongly believe that Albert Einstein’s phrase “Genious is 1% of talent and 99% of hard work” is absolutely true. And besides that, we still need to be sensitive for the world around us.
You give concerts together with a French saxophonist, Valentine Michaud, the two of you are classmates, right? How did this cooperation come about?
Yes, we are having quite busy time now together, about what I am extremely happy!
We were coursemates in Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, she has just graduated, I am still continuing to study. And our meeting was quite simple, we met during the opening days for foreign students in the school. Just after some time she said, that normally: „No pianists are coming to saxophone players with a question: Do you want to play together?”.
It is so, because the repertoire of saxophone and piano duo is extremely difficult, so Valentine thought that either I did not know what I was doing, or that I was completely crazy.
You already have a common plan of , or is it too early to talk about it yet?
We have. We had some concerts together in 2018, and already some for 2019. Also a few more ideas about other projects together. We have won the second prize in Salieri-Zinetti Internatioal Chamber Music Competition in Italy, so there are also some more concerts awaiting us abroad.
But I am also happy that I have an opportunity to play with many other musicians, ensembles and orchestras in different concerts, projects, some of them have already been arrange for 2020.
And I strongly hope that I will have at least a little more time for my other projects of painting and photography.
Thank you very much for the interview and good luck!