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  • Kauno valstybinis choras koncerte Lietuva brangi-2aef24a7c6746d6657e7f5758133fa6d.jpg



    Lord Yehudi Menuhin has named Kaunas State Choir the collective of the highest level. The choir that is well known in Lithuania and abroad for the performance of large-scale world classic’s pieces is as well famous for the nurturance and spread of Lithuanian music. Pieces by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Česlovas Sasnauskas, Juozas Naujalis, Stasys Šimkus, Vladas Švedas, Bronius Kutavičius and Lithuanian authors belonging to the younger generation have a special place in the repertoire and discography of the collective.

    The festive concert on the day that is important to the whole Lithuania is not accidental. The head of National Philharmonic Rūta Prusevičienė says: “Artistic, civic and communal activity of the choir and its’ founder Petras Bingelis, spread of Lithuanian composers’ oeuvre, thought for the audience in the regions and representing of the Lithuanian choral culture in the world just identifies the choir’s name with the most important events and dates of the restored Independent Lithuania.”

    Led by its’ art director and conductor Petras Bingelis the choir during the concert will introduce the programme “Lietuva brangi” (“Lithuania My Dear”). The song written by J. Naujalis upon the lyrics of Maironis that has become almost the second national anthem permanently sounds in the choir’s artistic activity as the beautiful and meaningful keynote. Performed by the singers from Kaunas in 2012 it witnessed the Lithuanian music tradition during the 26th Macao Music Festival that took place in China. CD recorded by the choir in 2000 and containing the patriotic and religious pieces by the most famous Lithuanian composers from the beginning of the 20th century is as well called “Lithuania My Dear“.

    The most beautiful Lithuanian choral music will be performed during the event. In the programme there are represented several generations of Lithuanian music creators: the first composers of national music – Vincas Kudirka, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Aleksandras Kačanauskas, as well Julius Juzeliūnas, Rimvydas Žigaitis, Zigmas Virkšas who have cultivated Lithuanian music later and nowadays authors belonging to several generations – Algimantas Bražinskas, Vytautas Barkauskas, Vytautas Miškinis, Vaclovas Augustinas.

    The major part of the concert will be conducted by the Kaunas choir’s leader Petras Bingelis who has been honoured with numerous distinctions. In 1993 he was awarded with the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Premium, in 1994 awarded Grand Duke Gediminas Medal of the 4th degree, in 2003 – with the Comandor’s Great Cross of the medal “For the merits to Lithuania”. In 2008 was elected the Honour Citizen of Kaunas city, in 2013 was granted Ministry of Culture sign of honour “Nešk savo šviesą ir tikėk” (“Carry your light and believe”). The exclusive and touching estimation links P. Bingelis with the patriarch of Lithuanian choral music – Juozas Naujalis whose pieces will be performed in the programme of the concert. Maestro is keeping the original wand of Juozas Naujalis that has been handed to him by the composer’s daughter Zofija Naujalytė more than thirty years ago.

    The young conductors Kęstutis Jakeliūnas and Mindaugas Radzevičius will as well appear at the conductor’s stand. K. Jakeliūnas will conduct composition by V. Miškinis “Oi šąla šąla” (“It is freezing”) and M. Radzevičius – a song by Z. Virkšas “Oi, ant kalno” (“Oh, on the Mountain”).

    K. Jakeliūnas says that composition by V. Miškinis “Oi, šąla šąla” ir one of the most colourful composer’s pieces. “Since the very first phrase of the choir – the canon that is sung by sopranos, the music carries to the magical play of the first snowflakes and when other voices join gradually the harmony develops up to the graceful spree of the snow storm. The brightest colour and impression of light is felt in the middle part of the piece. When soprano is singing solo and the choir answers, at the end of every phrase a bell rings and it seems that it stops the flowing of the time, - shared his thoughts conductor.

    K. Jakeliūnas describes the opportunity to work with the choir as an exceptional experience, plenty of everyday searches of the music’s depths, climbing to the heights of mastership, professional advices of P. Bingelis: “These are indeed inestimable values that give sense to the life and creative activity and encourage materialise your skills, to release the creative potential.

    M. Radzevičius compares the choir to the small state where everyone though being different is working for one goal: ‘This is a team-work. Often it is necessary to search for the compromise, to listen to others attitude. I think this is the way to reach the best result”. The conductor says that every season of th choir’s creative activity brings new challenges, interesting programmes, often – smart musical experiments and create dynamic atmosphere that enables to reveal artists’ creative potential.

    Kaunas State Choir is waiting for its listeners in Lithuanian National Philharmonic (Aušros Vartų str. 5, Vilnius) on March 11 d., 7 p. m. The choir will be accompanied by Renata Marcinkutė-Lesieur (organ) and Beata Andriuškevičienė (piano).

     Musicolog Rasa Aukštuolytė
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  • Gounod opera Faust-0eb0f25ccd5747daf8474240c2d119b4.jpg



    It is symbolic that Kaunas State Choir returns to the stage exactly in the staging of “Faust” intended to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Vilnius City Opera. The choir led by Petras Bingelis had worked together with Dalia Ibelhauptaitė in the staging of “Pagliacci” that was even earlier than “La Bohème”. Later male part of the choir joined the staging of “Il Trovatore”. This time the mixed choir will join the young generation of Vilnius City Opera ensemble and become the portrait of the 19th century Paris society covering different characters, types and even completely unexpected personalities.

    Director Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, speaking about the collaboration with Kaunas State choir, tells: “In “Faust” Kaunas State Choir comprises the basis of all the biggest choral scenes. They were always famous for their high vocal professionality cultivated by maestro Petras Bingelis whose experience in the field of music is a real treasure and our collective is very happy having the possibility to create together with the best professionals in this field that are famous for their works far beyond Lithuania. So, we knew that they are capable to perform the most complicated pieces but even could not dream that the choir will transform itself into such suggestible actors that are moving on the stage and create interesting, distinctive and individual characters. Their work in “Faust” is a triumph achieved by long-lasting and hard work, devotion to the idea of acting and once again proves that people who have artistic souls know no limits.

    I am greatly surprised by the fantasy of every choir singer, the stories of characters created by them, mini-plots that so organically intertwine into many-stage actions in all their scenes and reach my ideal – acting on the stage like in the cinema where you can shoot every personage like a separate story. And furthermore it mingles with the perfect vocal! That’s why the strength of all the massive scenes of “Faust” just tears down the roof of the Congress Palace! It seems to me that for them every appearing on the stage means a great feast and that light and positive energy the choir transmits to every viewer. This is not the first common project of Vilnius City Opera and Kaunas State Choir and I greatly hope that journeys from Kaunas to Vilnius and back will become more and more often. It is so wonderful to create the common world with the people who feel happy because of that…” In fact, being not able to prescind from the mass of different personages and costumes, we got interested in several individual stories of choir singers and their experience working together with Vilnius City Opera that are hiding behind them. As Zenonas Butkevičius who has been working together with Dalia Ibelhauptaitė already in “Pagliacci” and later in the “Il Trovatore” told us, at first it may be difficult in opera: “After all, we – choir singers are people of quite static profession, meanwhile the world of opera is completely different. Here it is plenty of action and furthermore you are creating a personage and one day you may be an aristocrat and the other – a poor fellow. This time Zenonas got the role of the vendor that he accepted with all challenges and particularity: “Yes, it happened to me to appear behind the bar and I think that in the future my attitude towards barmen will be different. While preparing for the performances I understood that in fact the barmen has to “tame” trays, glasses and cups, to manage them and not to allow them to manage him. This is an interesting experience just like the previous common projects with Dalia Ibelhauptaitė team and for me it is very interesting to take part in them.

    “Faust” appeared to be the performance of the decade not only for Vilnius City Opera but as well for the choir singer Inga Gudavičienė for whom this opera crowns her ten years anniversary of working in Kaunas State Choir: “I am very happy because of the opportunity to take part in the opera of such a high rank, to be together with such people and contribute in creating such a wonderful spectacle.” Inga concedes that the work with the “bohemians” astonished her. Having worked in Kaunas Musical Theatre she shared bright and different impressions: “Peculiarity of the work is different, indeed. In the staging of operettas in Kaunas Musical Theatre that I had opportunity to participate, the choir and the orchestra were to separate wings. Directors work more with soloists there and in Vilnius City Opera every choir artist is revealed as the hero who has its’ own story and realizes it in opera. And the atmosphere here is very domestic, communication is warm and you really feel that here we are one family and you can ascertain that the star of the highest scale is communicating with everybody very naturally. Such things ensure more comfort on the stage it becomes pleasant to act because you receive the response from every person who is present on the stage. Opera becomes a light in the repertoire of Kaunas State Choir that enables us not only to move on but as well to reveal our theatrical skills.

    Robertas Jančkaitis who as well has considerable scenic experience and had worked in Kaunas Musical Theatre as well appreciates particularity of the role given to the choir: “Differently than in it is common, in the performances of Vilnius City Opera the choir is not only a seconder, one that just “noddles”, here every person is a micro-performance. I have not met such practice anywhere. I think this is why such an interesting and spectacular final result is obtained. Already in the beginning of the rehearsals there is a main plan of scenic actions prepared but we are asked and allowed to create our own characters, stories that and fill that scheme. In fact you contribute to the creative process. There is no doubt that a professional before coming to the rehearsal must be acquainted not only with the music but as well with the plot. In this case even the French language itself, clear pronunciation and its nuances that as well help to convey idea to the viewers became very important.” Robertas claims that such practice on the stage encourages being not afraid of making mistakes and to always have the second variant prepared, to know one’s actions precisely but never be afraid of improvising: “In such a way creativity is encouraged, especially in such cases when you must “unwind” from the situation not making the viewer understand that on the stage something went not according to the plan. In life many things as well happen not according to the plan, accidentally – I know this for sure because my musical way started just like this… One day I was just walking through Kaunas Old Town and heard someone singing beautifully. I entered to inquire and it appeared to be the Music Conservatoire where I later studied, then entered Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy and today it is already ten years as I am a baritone of Kaunas State Choir…”
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  • Kudirka National Anthem-3a00c7bb2be23d4791c8841e5a7e27d5.jpg



    On the 16th of February – the Day of Restoration of Lithuania‘s Independence in the streets of cities, towns and villages three-coloured flags flutter and the National Anthem sounds. Lyrics of the anthem – “Lithuania, our Motherland“ are often repeated but do we know the history of one of the three symbols of the state?

    Vincas Kudrika (1858–1899) who was a physician, public man, poet, musician and wakened Lithuanian national self-awareness wrote the „National Anthem“ when the sunset of his life was close. Making efforts to fill the 1998 november-december edition of literature, politics and science monthly „Varpas“ (“The Bell“) he published the „National Anthem“ including the note: “melody and lyrics composed by V. K.“

    The “National Anthem“ is the only choral piece composed by V. Kudirka. Composer Juozas Žilevičius says: “This piece is one of the most important and interesting from all Vincas Kudirka’s compositions and at the same time it is the most significant. If even he wouldn’t have written anything else, just only this piece, nevertheless his name would be alive in the nation’s lips as it is today. This composition crowns all his activity in the field of music”.

    However V. Kudirka‘s contribution into the development of the Lithuanian music is much more extensive. From his young age having had a close contact with the songful Lithuanian folklore he started collecting it, cared to harmonize folk music. During his studies in Warsaw under the impact of Polish salon culture that fostered fine musical traditions V. Kudirka wrote several compositions for piano.

    V. Kudirka himself has told predictively about his “National Anthem“: “I‘ve written the anthem for the Lithuanians“. However the history of our state‘s anthem is not so brief and simple as It might look at first glance.

    At first verses of the poem “Sir Thaddeus“ written in Polish by Adam Mickiewicz: “O Lithuania, my Country, thou art like good health“ served as Lithuania‘s National Anthem. Author of the historical novel “Algimantas“ suggested to declare the King David‘s psalm “The Lord Almighty is with us“ as the National Anthem, meanwhile the nation was very fond of the religious anthem „Mary, Mary“ (the music to Maironis’ lyrics composed by Česlovas Sasnauskas). As well other verses by Maironis raising the nation‘s spirit and pride of its glorious past – “Where Šešupė is flowing“ (music by Č. Sasnauskas and A. Kačanauskas), “We will burst into a new song, brothers“ and “Dear Lithuania“ as well pretended to become the National Anthem. “Dear Lithuania“ served as unofficial anthem of Lithuania during the Soviet period when V. Kudirka‘s “National Anthem“ was banished.

    However predictive words of V. Kudirka came true: for the first time “The National Anthem“ has been sung when its’ author was still alive – on November 13, 1899 in Petersburg, during the concert that was organised to support Lithuanian students. A year later the future President of Lithuania, the congenial and comrade of V. Kudirka – Kazys Grinius named this anthem the national anthem in the press. In 1905 the anthem was performed in the concert organised on the eve of the Great Seimas of Vilnius. In 1906 a special edition called „The Anthem of Lithuania“ was published in Riga.

    Perhaps, we rarely do think about the fact that the National Anthem is an inseparable part of our everyday life. The first sounds that every morning can be heard on Lithuanian National Radio and Television and wake us for the new day is the “National Anthem“ performed by Kaunas State Choir. The record of the “National Anthem“ that has been made by Kaunas State Choir at once after the restoration of Independence in 1990 has become an indispensable attribute without which any solemn session of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, other significant state and national events are inconceivable.

    Though do we properly emote into the deepness and significance of lyrics every time when we sing the National Anthem? Foreigners often admire its’ beauty. On January 22, 1934 a famous journalist Marian Benerman in the Polish newspaper published in Vilnius writing about the Lithuanian anthem insisted that “its’ thought is so deep that it would be difficult to find something similar anywhere else...“

    Celebrating the Restoration of Statehood Day let us listen more carefully to the encouragements of the „National Anthem“ to love our Motherland not only by words but as well by deeds... And let us sing it with pride!
    Rimantas Klevečka
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