Fonografie Muziek




The Lithuanian Electric Ladies is an ensembles of three violinists: Gerda Gersvaite (GG), Danute Kunigelyte (DK) and Enrika Uselyte (EU) playing electric violins. 


You probably all have a usual conservatory level bachelor (or even masters) study behind you, normally preparing for a career in the classical music world. When did you seriously start to play? 


GG, EU - we finished conservatory, Danute finished Ciurlionis art school, but hard work began at Lithuanian academy of music and theatre.


Did you start playing in an orchestra then?

DK - I started to play in some students orchestras in Europe (behind the studies) like: ''Europa Philharmonie" , ''ABAM'' orchestra'', ''German-Scandinavian Philharmonic Youth orchestra''. After I participated for four years in the orchestra ''Philharmonie der Nationen under Justus Franz''. When I finished my studies on the Lithuanian academy of music and theatre I left with a master degree. I won a contest for the second violin place in the orchestra of Lithuanian state opera and ballet theatre.


EU - I've studied a violin class in the Malmö academy of music (Sweden) and in the Lithuanian academy. I have a master degree. I worked at Lübeck Europa Philharmonic orchestra, then two years in musicals with the BB promotion company in West side story and Evita, furthermore I played in the student Youth orchestra of Denmark. Now I work am a member of the State Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania for 6 years in a first violin place. 


GG - I've graduated the violinist class in the Lithuanian academy of music and theatre. Playing in orchestra’s wasn't my goal of life. I started to work as a manager, editor in different TV projects, tried myself as an actor in TV serials. Then I made a proposal to join trio Electric ladies.


When did you decide to form a trio and what motivated you to ‘go electric’? 


DK - That was 7 years ago. During that time when I was traveling with some orchestras around the world, I had some possibilities to see and hear a few groups who played electric strings. I liked the idea that I am on the stage with a lot of sounds with power and playing violin – simply to do the work for what I was learning and trained so many years. The most stimulating was to realize myself in music, dance and beauty. Step by step we started our project Electric ladies. The electric sound of violin has more sound effects and made it possible for us  express our kind of music music in the best possible way.


What chances does a violinist have in Lithuania? Are the possibilities so few that most of your colleagues had to move to elsewhere in Europe or the U.S.A.? 


GG, EU, DK - to be a violinist is not the best choice in Lithuania. There are just a few high-class orchestras. You have to work in several jobs at the same time if you want to have a good, satisfying professional: for example as a private teacher or a teacher in a musical school for children. It is obvious, that when Lithuania became a part of European Union a big amount of musicians moved to live and work to in other countries around the world. Happily enough music is an international language.


Were you all born in a family of musicians?


GG, EU - Yes, we have born in a family of musician. 


EU  - My mom is a violinist, too.


DK  - There are no musicians in my family. I am the only one.

Never considered another instrument? What is for you so special about the violin?


EU - I like a violin, I like its mellow timbre. I also think that the violin capabilities are limitless.


GG - I have tried to play on other instruments: guitar, piano, accordion, but my first love is a violin, I'm playing it enthusiastically and it feels good.


DK - I do play piano also. But for the violin gives a special feeling, sensation as you feel everything from inside; I think I undergo violin playing like the instrument feels and understands me so that we together can bring something up from our hearts.


Did you have good teachers from the beginning?


GG, EU, DK - Yes we did have a very complete musical forming.


Tell a bit more about your repertoire. Do you have a preference for a certain genre? Well-known pop songs, rock, club music even jazz? Or Piazzolla tango’s?


GG - we are playing a wide range of musical works. Estonian composers and producers write new repertoire for us and we call it modern classic genre.


EU - we are also playing covers of the pop, rock songs, and club music.


DK – Plus we are playing tango’s that are written specially for our trio.


Is there no classical music at all from the serious hitlists? Vivaldi, Mozart?


GG, EU, DK - Yes, sure there is, for example as you mentioned Vivaldi's ‘Storm’, the last movement from ‘Summer’ in Vivaldi’s Four seasons.


Who makes the arrangements? 


GG - The arrangements for us are made by a Lithuanian composer. But we supply arrangements ourselves, also.


Isn’t it a serious restriction to have 3 violins that sound more or less the same? Did you ever consider to make a quartet with a viola and a cello giving to give more differentiated voices to the music?


GG, EU - Maybe there is a good point in what you’re suggesting.  Three violins really sound the same, but we can manipulate our sound and its effects, so can produce sounds like from a cello or viola. So, we think we can express all we want to our listeners with tree violins at this moment and we are not considering becoming a quartet or quintet.


GG - We are preparing a Vittorio Monti's Czardas for three violins solo without accompaniment now.


So you join the already rather big international electric string world with something new: there are arrangements already for saxophone, flute/harp, percussion, clarinet, wind ensemble….


On what podia are you playing? The normal pop podia and festivals? Or are you bound to perform for corporate clients and events?


GG, EU, DK - we play on special events, charity events, TV shows an for corporate clients.


EU - we had a gala concert with the Lithuanian State Symphony orchestra. It was a presentation of our new album "Art of life".


About how many concerts per year are you giving?


GG, EU, DK - we have approximately 50 concerts per year in the different countries.


You toured in Europe (but up to now not in The Netherlands) so tell a bit about you were received there. Where did you get the most enthusiastic response?


GG, EU, DK - we have toured not only in Europe. We had concerts in Ghana, Qatar, Algeria and we can tell you frankly that the most enthusiastically we were received in Africa, in Ghana. We have played on the national TV channel during a big charity event; we gave an interview for the national media. We felt like a real pop stars during this trip.


GG, EU, DK - We like traveling, to meet other people, to work with well known composers and interesting people. But the most attractive for us are the intercourse and connection with public. All these small things make playing in this group attractive for us.


Do you realise that most of these ‘electric’ groups are ‘manned’ by girls? Do you have an explanation for that phenomenon?


GG, EU, DK - Yes, we do! We cannot imagine a boy’s trio playing on electric violins, wearing beautiful dresses and dancing like us. 


Might that also be because you look sexier? Or perhaps even because you are better than men?


GG, EU, DK - this is not a gender issue. We think that people like to see ladies playing, because we look better, dance better, and even play better, sometimes...


Who decides about existing and new repertoire. Are the three of you in this respect very united, of the same opinion? Does everyone give new suggestions? How democratic are you operating? Or is there a manager as the only one to make decisions?


GG - we trust our manager, but we bring new suggestions to the repertoire all together in a democratic way. The manager cannot see a reaction off listeners during the concert. We can and undergo it and we know what people want to listen to and see. 


EU - we are working on the new repertoire of club music with some show elements in dance and presentation. We think it will be a new challenge for our trio. I hope an audience will like it.


Up to now Electric Ladies is rather constant as a team. Did it ever change? Are there reserve players for each of you?


GG - Life is unpredictable, you know. Our team changed from the beginning: Danute and Enrika are playing from the beginning; I have joined the team a couple of years later.

EU - we have a one reserve player in case to replace someone of us who cannot play.


DK - But until now we are team. We feel each other on the stage, are acting from one brain.


How extensive is your repertoire? Can you give an idea of the number of numbers? Are you constantly adding to that basis according to developing tastes for instance new numbers added?


GG, EU, DK – We have for 1 hour and 20 minutes repertoire that we can divide in several gigs.


Do you need much time in rehearsing, or is a simple sound check enough?


GG - we do a lot rehearsing and a simple sound check is not enough for us. In one studio we play, in another we are rehearsing the dances.


How good are you at improvising?


GG - We do not do any improvising, usually. But sometimes we have to do, especially if we are expecting bigger technical difficulties during a performance.


How about sound amplification? You surely need a sound technician to assist you. Is he (or she) a (quasi) member of the group?


GG, EU - the sound amplification is very important for us. This is the main reason why we have our own sound technician who knows the features, the possibilities (and the limits) of the electric violin. Yes, you can say that he is quasi a member of our group because we travel together.


Are the programs differentiated according to the occasion, the kind of public (youngsters, older people) you play for? What choices are there?


GG - Yes of course! We do that. We always ask the organiser of the concert to inform us what kind of public will attend and participate in a show. Based on this information we prepare our show repertoire. 


What can you tell about the instruments you play? Are they Yamaha’s or another brand?


GG, EU - we are indeed playing on electric violins made by Yamaha. They are sort of international standard.


DK - I am playing on the Silent violin model by Yamaha.


Being young it must be very attractive and logical to play in this pop dominated world. But what about a career when you get old(er)? A 60-year old violinist jumping around doesn’t seem a nice prospect.


GG - good question! You don't like a violinist who is 60? When we become 60 years old we will call our trio "Electric Grannies". It would be fun!


DK- I will play operas and ballets or fulfil small free lance jobs.


Are you ever considering eventually to later return to the classical podium?


EU -Yes, one always can return to the classical podium.


You are very present on the internet with an own website, active in the social media and on a small scale on YouTube or Spotify. Do you receive many reactions on those exposures?


GG - you have to ask this question to our manager! He knows better about this stuff because he deals with it! 


Do you get a lot of fan mail? How useful is your presence on FaceBook in this respect?


GG - the FB profile helps us to keep in touch with our fans and to communicate with them. In my opinion it is very useful.


Do you have any hobbies (sports for example, or simply reading) or is your music making totally fulfilling, having made playing violin the sole hobby, your life entirely?


GG, EU, DK- our main hobby is a music; it fills our lives completely. 


Is there anything you always wanted to tell, to explain? Then please do add it!


DK - Then I would like to say that playing in a trio like this is not so easy sometimes. If you want to play in a trio you have to be a person and feel organically on the stage. You must control the audience from the beginning till the end. You have to work with your body, eyes and smile apart from playing the violin. We don't use our voices during our performances and your body language becomes very important in keeping contact with your audience. For me being a member of this trio is the best thing in my life up to now.