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  • Photo by Zdanek Chrapek_Prazske jaro1-da327d44cbb24cf3b69ddd782fa8c237.jpg



    Lithuania‘s music traditions in this year festival „Prague‘s spring“ will as well be represented by Kaunas State Choir – the only mixed voices choir taking part in this year event.
    Every year “Prague‘s spring“ offers the audience a unique blend of traditional music and adventurous experiments.
    The 71st festival that will last from May 12 till June 4 will invite to attend more than 50 concerts with participation of famous performers from Prague, London, Berlin and Singapore.
    One of the most distinct focuses of this year festival is music of the Baltic States. Lithuanian music traditions will be represented by mezzo-soprano – Violeta Urmana, Čiurlionis Quartet, Lithuanian National Symphonic Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir led by Petras Bingelis. It is the only mixed voices choir taking part in this year festival.
    Talking about choir‘s invitation to come to “Prague‘s spring“  director of Kaunas State Philharmonic - Justinas Krėpšta told: “We feel honoured both - because of the invitation to take part in the festival that retains memories of the most prominent stars performances from all over the world and because of the organisers‘ aspiration to introduce more closely the Baltic States as a peculiar region, cherishing rich musical traditions, to reveal diversity and uniqueness of the music of every country that belongs to this region“.
    “During the past few years the choir visited music festivals in Macao (China), Sion (Switzerland), Rome (Italy) but taking part in such a prestigious event as the festival that is held in the capital of the Czech Republic since 1946 undoubtedly is an important engagement to introduce properly the musical culture of Lithuania and as well a significant record in the history of choir‘s musical activity“, - assured P. Bingelis
    On May 23rd in the seat of the Czech National Philharmonic – Rudolfinum Palace‘s A. Dvorak‘s concert hall the choir accompanied by the Lithuanian National Symphonic Orchestra will sing “The Epitaph for the Passing Time“ by B. Kutavičius that, according to the festival‘s organisers, will be performed in the Czech Republic for the first time.
    V. Urmana who will sing a solo part told it will be a pleasure for her to appear on the Rudolfinum stage not only together with the Lithuanian National Symphonic Orchestra led by Modestas Pitrėnas but as well with Kaunas Choir that is well known in Europe and not once has taken part in common projects.
    Choir’s gala performance under the baton of Petras Bingelis is scheduled on May 24th and will take place in the exclusive concert space – St. Simon and Jude’s church counting its history since the 14th century, not once rebuilt to assume finally ornate shapes of Baroque.
    The programme of the concert including a capella pieces sung in four different languages will introduce to the listener the wide range of Lithuanian and foreign composer‘s music and reveal the diversity of Lithuanian music of different genres and periods.
    Rimantas Klevečka
    “Laikinoji sostinė“ (Lietuvos rytas), No 19
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    Symphonic music concerts interpreting Bronius Kutavičius' Epitaphium temporum pereunti will take place at the Kaunas State Philharmonic on the 21st of April, 6 pm; at the Klaipėda Concert Hall on the 22nd of April, 6 pm and at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic on the 23rd of April, 7 pm.

    Modestas Pitrėnas took up his appointment as the artistic director and chief conductor of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra in autumn 2015. With broad and expressive gestures he will command the united forces of the Orchestra and the Kaunas State Choir (which make up to 150 performers in total) in the performance of B. Kutavičius’s Epitaphium temporum pereunti. This remarkable work depicts four momentous events in the cultural and spiritual history of Lithuania: the establishment of Vilnius, the opening of the Vilnius University, the martyrdom of Lithuanian citizens who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their country, and the reconsecration of the Vilnius Cathedral. Originality of Kutavičius’s artistic vision has been recognized by awarding him the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize in 1995. In 2012, the same prestigious prize was awarded to M. Pitrėnas, who continues to assert that his “wildly captivating and never boring creative occupation” has never let him down.

    Music by Hector Berlioz will stand in contrast with the Lithuanian part of the programme. Mezzo-soprano Eglė Šidlauskaitė will sing solo part in Berlioz’s cantata The Death of Cleopatra. “My most ambitious plan for the future is improvement,” admits Šidlauskaitė who applies her experience in foreign productions during her return appearances at home.
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    From 8th of January until the 7th of March Lithuanian Education History Museum is holding an interactive exhibition The choir obeying the conductor's most subtle gesture.

    "This exhibition is truly unique in its form and the opportunity provided for the visitor to hear the world-class works performed by the professional Kaunas State Choir. The ten-stand exhibition in our museum is supplemented with such audio recordings of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis' De profundis, Juozas Naujalis' Song of Youth /lyrics by Maironis/ and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. O Fortuna allows the visitor to gain cultural experience and feel as if he is in the concert of the famous choir," says I. Brazauskaitė.
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    We all know the famous poem Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but the story to be presented this Saturday at the National Philharmonic is different. The weekend concert presents a monumental Faust Cantata by Alfred Schnittke. A number of musicians are joining forces for the occasion, including Lithuanian opera soloists M. Zimkus and T. Girininkas, a well-known singer of Lithuanian popular music and jazz E. Sašenko, a countertenor of extraordinary voice Russell Harcourt (United Kingdom), the Kaunas State Choir and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Robertas Šervenikas.

    Schnittke composed the Faust Cantata in 1983 and the music from the piece was incorporated in an opera Historia von D. Johann Fausten completed in 1994. The cantata gained popularity for an unconventional element in academic music – a tango sung through the microphone by the Devil with the mocking comments on the cruel death of Faust: the passionate tango melodies are supplemented with the Brecht-like croaking countertenor, followed by a thunderous accompaniment of electric guitar. This episode became the third act of the opera.

    The story of Faust had attracted the composer for a long time. For the cantata he used texts from the Bible and an anonymous writer of the 16th century. The tour de force of the piece is a narration about Faust’s descent to Hell, thus making it different from Faust’s story in Goethe’s poem, where the character goes to Heaven. In the 16th century story the tragic life of Faust ends in cruel death.

    Two variants of the sung text of the Faust Cantata have been prepared, in Russian and in German languages. The German language version will be performed at the National Philharmonic this Saturday.

    Joining forces for the performance of the Faust Cantata with the Kaunas State Choir under Maestro Petras Bingelis in the first part of the concert, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (artistic director and chief conductor Modestas Pitrėnas) under the conductor Robertas Šervenikas will also perform the Symphony No. 6 by Piotr Tchaikovsky in the second part of the concert.

    Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique) is the last symphony written by the composer, considered to be an autobiographical piece. Tchaikovsky wrote “Without exaggeration I have put my whole soul into this symphony… As far as I am concerned, I am prouder of it than of any of my previous works.” Due to lasting depression, in early 1893 Tchaikovsky wrote that he had lost faith in himself and had reached the deepest point. However, all of a sudden, he was captured in creative fever and in a letter to composer’s nephew at the end of summer we can see an entirely different attitude: “You can't imagine what bliss I feel, being convinced that my time is not yet passed and I can still work. Perhaps, of course, I'm mistaken, but I don't think so…” Affected by such emotions the composer wrote his last symphony. The premiere of the piece took place one week before his death; however a truly favourable reception came after its second performance in November 1893, following the death of composer.

    The concert of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Kaunas State Choir and soloists under Robertas Šervenikas will take place on 23rd January, Saturday, 7pm at the Grand Hall of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society. inf

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  • Photo by Kaunas State Choir-76780fb17a9d30e09bf4bcd39818ee8c.jpg



    Having started the year in the largest Kaunas public space – “Žalgiris“ Arena with the concert dedicated to the Freedom Defenders’ Day during which “Requiem Mass” by W. A. Mozart was performed, Kaunas State Choir is promising to its’ listeners the indeed intense and sapid winter-spring concert season. During the concerts that will take place in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and other towns’ concert halls the choir accompanied by the National Symphonic Orchestra and Kaunas City Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by the most prominent masters of the baton – Juozas Domarkas, Modestas Pitrėnas, Petras Bingelis, Robertas Šervenikas, Konstantin Orbelian  will introduce an indeed miscellaneous and impressive repertoire that will not lack pieces of the most famous Lithuanian and foreign composers of the 20th century.


    On January 23rd in the Lithuanian National Philharmonic having recruited numerous forces of Lithuanian musician and with the participation of Australian born and performing a lot in the UK countertenor of the exclusive voice timbre Russell Harcourt the monumental “Faust Cantata” by A. Schnittke will be performed. The mentioned cantata was composed in 1983 and later used by the composer in the opera “Historia von D. Johann Fausten”. The particular popularity gained microphone performed “Devil’s Tango” that sneers at Faust’s death and is characteristic for this element that is not traditional in the academic music. “Historia von D. Johann Fausten” performed by the choir sounded in Vilnius and Kaunas philharmonics in 1999 and then gained appreciation from the public. R. Harcourt whose voice is described as penetrating and having glint – edged clarity will perform A. Schnittke’s piece for the first time but claims that composer’s decision to write Mephistopheles’ part for such a rear and exclusive voice as countertenor does not seem for him incidental but rather well thought-out and excellently revealing the demonic character of the embodied personage.


    On February 5th on the stage of Kaunas Philharmonic the choir traditionally will congratulate Kaunas City Symphonic Orchestra celebrating its’ birthday. In the concert dedicated to this occasion the choirs belonging to the golden treasury of opera from “Il Trovatore”, “Nabucco”, “Aida” By G. Verdi, “Cavalleria Rusticana” by P. Mascagni will be performed.  


    To commemorate celebratory the Day of Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence that is significant to the nation as a whole and to every citizen the choir invites to the concert “We are singing Freedom” that will take place on February 15th in Varėna Centre of Culture. In the programme – the most beautiful compositions of Lithuanian and Western European composers that have become the symbols of inexorable desire of freedom and struggle for it.


    The 19th Festival of E. Grieg and M. K. Čiurlionis on March 20th in the hall of Kaunas Philharmonic will gather Kaunas State Choir conducted by Petras Bingelis, saxophonist Petras Vyšniauskas and percussionist Arkadijus Gotesmanas who together will perform oratory by V. Bartulis “Kelias” (“The Way”) composed to commemorate 130th anniversary from the birth of M. K. Čiurlionis. In the oratory there is used the prose of M. K. Čiurlionis (“The Tale”), letters to his wife Sofia. The aim of the oratory is to countervail the sweet and kind of “post-card” style of reflecting M. K. Čiurlionis’ personality and oeuvre, to reveal the complicated and dramatic race of the human and the creator, to take notice of the solitude that depressed the artist, suffering, love he has experienced, mental insanity he has fallen ill with. The composer is convinced that the main role in the oratory falls to the choir and told he is pleasured that this time the piece will be performed by Kaunas choir singers.  


    During the concerts that will take place: on April 21st in Kaunas, April 22nd – in Klaipėda and April 23rd in Vilnius the choir will perform the symphony-oratory “ Epitaphium temporum pereunti” by B. Kutavičius. Mysticism, afflatus, capturing of the moment and air of eternity that are characteristic for oeuvre of B. Kutavičius as well sound in the “Epitaphium”. In its’ texture there are masterly inwrought the most significant events of Lithuania’s history – the christening of the country, founding of the capital, establishment of the university, embossed the most important dates of Vilnius’ history. The piece has been written in two stages. The first two parts for the small orchestra and male ensemble using the texts from the Annual of Lithuania – The Bychovc Chronicle and “Ars et pracis musica” by Žygimantas Liauksminas were composed commemorating the 650 years anniversary of Vilnius city founding. Twenty five years later B. Kutavičius opened the score once again not only edifying it and changing the instrumental cast but as well writing two more parts based on the texts of poet Sigita Geda. The Lithuanian music culture will be as well represented by this score during the 71st international music festival “The spring of Prague” that will take place in May. “Epitaphium” will be performed by the choir for the first time in the Czech Republic.

    Rimantas Klevečka


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