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2013 08 30

Having travelled four thousands kilometres Kaunas State Choir and its leader – Petras Bingelis for a few days have become the ambassador of the Lithuanian music culture in Switzerland where debuted in the International Sion Music Festival that takes place in the capital of Valais canton – Sion since 1964.
Meeting of the violin and the human voice
Sion that charms with the beauty of gothic castles and cathedrals is deservedly titled the capital of violin music and virtuosos of this instrument. The initiator of the International Sion Music Festival was a Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga who had been living and working in Sion for a few years.
The Sion Festival that at first was exclusively a chamber music event later started to round up bigger symphony orchestras; competitions of violinist drawing to Switzerland musicians from all over the world started to be held.
The art director of this year festival that is already the 49th – a prominent figure if the music world – a Russian violinist Pavel Vernikov who is not only cherishing traditions of his predecessors but is searching for new tinges and assonances invited the participants and listeners to discover a variety of musical forms, to experience an exciting and meaningful encounter of the violin and the human voice.
"The concept of current year festival exactly was one of the reasons why a choir form Kaunas was invited to the mecca of violinists where in the Cathedral of Sion, built in the end of the 16th – beginning of the 17th century, performed an oratory by the vicar of the patriarch of Moscow and Russia – metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) - "Passion according to Mathew", - explained the singer of the choir Rimantas Klevečka.
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, soloist of the Great Theatre in Moscow – Svetlana Kasyan and other performers took part in the Sion Festival together with the choir.
Thanks of the metropolitan
Preparing the programme of the festival its art director P. Vernikov told metropolitan Hilarion: "We will find plenty of orchestras for this piece but which choir could perform it?" That time a clergyman and a composer did not hesitate: "I know the choir". He had Kaunas State Choir singers in mind.
In spite of that the budget of current year festival was extremely modest, the metropolitan himself was caring about the financing of the Kaunas State Choir singers journey and did not consider other options. "But there are plenty of choirs all over the world" and rejoiced the singers of Kaunas State Choir who received the most warm applause of the public and thanks of the metropolitan after the concert.
"I am performing for the first time with the performers of such a high level", - metropolitan Hilarion told the leader of Kaunas State Choir after the concert. "I would like to express my deepest gratitude and respect for you".
Director of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra – Egidijus Mikšys as well heard these words and just confirmed: "There are few choirs of such a high artistic level in Europe. That is why though I take pleasure in the success of the Lithuanians it does not surprise me. This piece is actually written for the choir, the orchestra is just accompanying it. By the way, acoustics in Sion Cathedral is perfect".
An unforgettable prèmiere
A Russian clergyman and composer hilarion heard the singing of Kaunas State Choir on the 13th of May, 2012 when the oratory was for the first time in Lithuania performed in the Congress Palace in Vilnius. An impressive vocal-instrumental piece that was impeccably performed by Kaunas State Choir was an extraordinary success and appreciated by the Lithuanian audience.
An author of the oratory – metropolitan Hilarion memorized a collective from Kaunas and invited it to come to Sion meanwhile himself occupied the place at the conductor’s pulpit.
"Passion according to Mathew" is an unexpected and at the same time masterful synthesis of musical traditions of the Western church and Orthodox (Eastern) church liturgy in which like in an old icon the mysteries of divinity and sanctity irradiate painted by the sounds of music. The oratory fascinated the listeners of the festival. According to them this music reveals the hearth of the composer himself and the success of the piece lie in the universality and simplicity of musical language and the extraordinary power of suggestion at the same time.
It was an unforgettable and at the same time a solemn performance for the collective of Kaunas State Choir. And though the choir singers give all their forces for every concert this time a new and really extraordinary conductor – the highest level clergyman of Moscow and Russia was a real excitement. "His every gesture irradiated sacredness," – the choir singer Saulius Mažulis shared his impressions. "Concentrated, calm, considering every gesture, you can not forget how a clergyman is conducting".
The most prominent collectives form Lithuania gave performances in the Sion Festival during a week but none of them attracted attention of the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania. "But having listened to the concert the diplomats could do as many as you can not do in thirty years," – the leader of Kaunas State Choir – Petras Bingelis was surprised.
After the return to Lithuania the choir will give numerous concerts on the stages of Lithuania. Soon the choir singers will invite listeners to the Congress Palace where together with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra will perform "The Queen Symphony", to the halls of the Lithuanian philharmonics where together with the Lithuanian National Symphonic Orchestra under the baton of Olivier Grangean will introduce the ode by E. Elgar "The Music Makers".
Enrika Striogaitė - Kauno Diena