Diving Deep with Guoste Tamulynaite

During the last seven months, Guoste Tamulynaite has been traveling regularly to Bergen, to participate in our mentoring program, Borealis Ung Komponist. Guoste from Lithuania has lived in Oslo since 2010, and is, among other things, trained as a pianist at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Since she was four years old she has had her fingers on the keys, but now she also extends her fingers beyond the piano and explores composition. When talking to her, it is clear that she is driven by a strong curiosity.

Photo: Thor Brødreskift/Borealis

As if mastering two languages

“I ask a lot of questions,” Guoste laughs. She has a master’s degree in classical piano, but has recently specialised further and taken a bachelor’s degree dedicated to composition. “As a performer I have always approached the composer curiously, trying to understand the motivation behind it and what they want to convey. Similarly, I pose questions when I’m the composer, both to myself and to the performer. I want to get to the root of why a work should be created, and what I’m really motivated by. But I feel like I’m being more critical as a composer than when I perform other people’s music. As a performer, I accept all works that come my way with openness and interest. As a composer, I have practiced being better at distinguishing between what I think is fun to experience in other people’s work, and what I myself actually want and choose to create.”

“Although it is challenging, I am very grateful for the opportunity to step into both the role of performer and composer. Having experience from both roles gives me a different kind of understanding in a collaboration. It feels a bit like I’m mastering two different languages that benefit from understanding each other!”

Collaboration has become a big part of Guoste’s practice: “Working together across experiences is something I value immensely, although it is also a muscle that requires a lot of training. I am deeply fascinated by the thought of several minds thinking around the same idea and the potential that lies in this – how complex and distinctive things can be made as a result of different tastes and compromise as a fundamental premise.”

River Being (2021–)

“As a result of having previously worked with dancers, I have become increasingly interested in incorporating movement into my works. When my performers are usually musicians, the challenge is to find methods for creating physical material that also feels natural to them. I want the musicians to feel ownership to the movements and flow into this in the same way they flow into the music performed. In the piece I am writing for Borealis 2023, I have generated movements based on the musicians’ own bodily experiences with their instruments, which the ensemble YrrY has approached brilliantly!”

The complexity of individual things

Such elements also build on Guoste’s conceptual approach, which create the framework for the projects she works on. Her work is often without an underlying narrative, but still with very clear references which give the audience the opportunity to interpret and add their own associations. Lately she has been thinking a lot about musicality, which is also the title of her piece for Borealis 2023.

“I have thought a lot about this, where in the body musicality can be located and how different musicians gain access to it. I like to think about how our musicality manifests itself in everyday life, when we are not playing our instruments. It’s also funny how much love us musicians feel for our instruments, and how dependant we are of them to utilise our musicality. These are abstract and complex questions, but I’ve had so much fun scratching the surface of this, together with the musicians of ensemble YrrY, who deserve all the praise for their dedication and sincerity in these investigations.”

Guoste often extracts sounds, movements or objects, and examines the complexity of these individual things. She writes down the ideas on lists that she continuously develops, with an inexhaustible amount of possibilities for exploration. She learned this method when she participated in the course Extended Composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music, led by Henrik Hellstenius and Trond Reinholdtsen:

“Henrik and Trond asked us to find twenty things that we really liked. They didn’t have to be connected to sound, but the task was to create a piece based on this list at the end. This is how my piece I Am a Flower was created, but this method that I learned also became my most rewarding tool when composing. It may be quite obvious, but I think it’s incredibly important to seek what you love in a creative process. Over time, my lists have become more detailed, nuanced and complex. And as I explore the things on the list, I feel like I’m getting closer to an essence and an aesthetic that is mine.”

I Am a Flower (2020), composed by
Guoste Tamulynaite, performed by Pinquins

“This is also how each of my projects inform the next one. For each project I like to investigate further what I explored in the previous one, while also adding some new elements. And it feels like there will be lots of new things to continue with after the project with Borealis Ung Komponist.”

“I thrive in situations where the process and ideas can be made more accessible through conversation with others. Before applying to Borealis Ung Komponist, I had sensed an uncertainty growing in me, and in parallell a desire to investigate conceptual composition and material, and new methods for composing. Borealis Ung Komponist has felt like an oasis, where I don’t have to stand alone in my investigations, and where I have a community that I can lean on, both through the mentors, my fellow composers and the ensemble. Through Borealis Ung Komponist I feel like I have pushed myself further than ever, and have gained enough footing to make even bigger plans for the future.”