XXIV Pažaislis Music Festival
With our lovely summer sunshine comes the joy of our 24th Pažaislis Music Festival, a stand-out music event in Lithuania’s culture scene. “#Get to know” our mix of deep traditions and modern genres, attracting greater audiences each year. Enjoy our traditional grand venues and some newly discovered halls, to hear renowned composers and performers as well as superb new artists. Keep reading for the longlist of our themes, celebrations, venues and details of the many and diverse performances across genres, countries, instruments, modes and scale.
Our themes: This year’s Festival celebrates Lithuania’s 15th anniversary of joining the European Union. We invite you to more than forty concerts varying from glorious concerts in the Pažaislis monastery’s serene estate, to chamber music in cozy, intimate settings in manors across Lithuania, or from grand recitals in the Kaunas State Philharmonic Hall, to the performances of exceptional artists at the Babtynas-Žemaitkiemis Manor. The 24th Festival has something for everyone. This year, we honour key jubilees such as the Kaunas State Choir’s 50th anniversary, and the birthdays or anniversaries of esteemed composers Giedrius Kuprevičius, Juozas Naujalis, Eduardas Balsys and Stanislovas Moniuška.
We’ll cover the entire EU. The 24th Pažaislis Music Festival includes a musical journey across the European Union countries through their history, natural wonders and their minorities’ narratives. We honour the EU’s cultural impact on the world, so, for the first time in the festival’s history, we include music from all 28 European Union countries. We’re hosting artists from Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain and other countries alongside our brightest Lithuanian artists with new programmes that premiere pieces never previously performed in Lithuania, from Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia in a joyful expansion of our musical horizons.
Our grand start and big finish: The opening concert is held in the grounds of the Pažaislis monastery, celebrates the Kaunas State Choir who’ll perform with the Lithuanian National Symphony orchestra, all conducted by the founder and the head of the Kaunas State Choir, Prof. Petras Bingelis. World-class Lithuanian soloists include Vida Miknevičiūtė, Jovita Vaškevičiūtė, Vaidas Vyšniauskas-Kristian Benedik and Liudas Norvaišas. The closing concert will be an equally impressive showcase for the same Choir and Orchestra but with the modern twist of performing “The Queen Symphony”, created from the collective compositions of the legendary British band, Queen, which featured the works of artiste Freddie Mercury alongside the astrophysicist-guitarist Dr Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist John Deacon.
Huge forces: Our listeners will meet the Kaunas State Choir in other festival events too such as the mighty “Verdi Requiem” where the powerful voices of the choir melt into haunting tones of soloists such as: Karina Flores, Eleni Matos, Hovhannes Ayvazyan and Hayk Tigranyan. This immortal masterpiece will be performed with the Kaunas City Symphony orchestra conducted by Constantine Orbelian at the Kaunas State Philharmonic Hall.
Contemporary and local: In an exciting audio-visual happening, both collectives will be joined by the Kaunas String Quartet to perform “Kaunas. Resurrection I”, directed by Paulius Jurgutis and conducted by Adrija Čepaitė.
Composer Juozas Naujalis will be honoured on the Feast of the Assumption during the traditional concert held at Pažaislis monastery. And the actor Dainius Svobonas will feature at the Dubingiai church where we’ll hear the composition “Nobody Will Ever Love You So” composed by Vidmantas Bartulis. The festival’s programme is full of many other new interests and traditional favourites of our festival friends.
The romantic lakeside setting of the Kaunas Yacht Club will provide the Lithuanian National Symphony orchestra, – directed by Modestas Pitrėnas, – with the perfect setting for a romantic evening where the work of Johann Strauss and the voice of the Belarus soprano, Margarita Levchuk, will fill the summer air.
The grandeur of the carillon and church organ take flight with the project “The Sounding Stories” from our Netherlands guest, Auke De Boer. And Kaunas castle provides an inspiring backdrop for enjoying the opera, “The Prussians”, composed by Giedrius Kuprevičius and staged by Klaipėda Musical Theatre collective.
We’re delighted at the return to the stages of the festival by one of the most adored and colourful ensembles – the “Karavan Familia” from Hungary, who present gypsy music in new forms in expressive performances at the Babtynas-Žemaitkiemis Manor and the Birštonas Culture Center.
We welcome again the talented women ensemble “RAMuzika”; we fly to new heights at the Pociūnai Airport when it hosts “The Disobedient” ensemble, whilst the tenor Edgaras Montvidas will celebrate 20 years of artistic creativity with his recital at the Kaunas Philharmonic Hall. We welcome back the song-guitar duo of Rita Novikaitė and Sergej Krinicin as well as regular festival guest, Asta Krikščiūnaitė who presents “Songs of Jerusalem” with the ensemble “Duo Lorenzen” from Israel. Talented Latvian cellist Ruslan Vilensky interprets Johann Sebastian Bach for us, whilst soloist Sabina Martinaitytė and the pianist Audronė Eitmanavičiūtė perform twice, including a programme prepared with German guests, countertenor Matthias Rexroth and pianist Eytan Pessen.
The listeners will have an opportunity to listen to the original and distinctive music of European countries in several concerts. The string quartet “Epoque Quartet” will present the works by composers of the Czech Republic; the compositions from Scandinavian and Baltic countries will be heard in the joint project cooperating the with the festival “O/Modernt:; the colourful Bulgaria will be presented by the trumpeter Miroslav Petkov and the “Bodurov trio”. Europe of Romanticism and Classicism epochs will resemble Chinese pianist (currently residing in Germany) Haiou Zhang; tenor Mindaugas Zimkus, alto player Ainis Kasperavičius and pianist Paulė Gudinaitė will invite you to get acquainted with the Central Europe; the pianist from Poland Wojciech Waleczek will perform the works of the composers from all European Union countries in one concert.
The festival will introduce many interesting projects mixing almost impossible-to-mix genres and unusual ensemble sets. The Kaunas Philharmonic hall will invite the listeners of the festival to the exceptional meeting with the pianist and singer Judith Owen who resides in the USA and UK; this year the academic chamber ensemble “Vilniaus Arsenalas” will breathe with the passionate tango rhythms; the listeners will have an opportunity to enjoy unusual duo: soprano Dovilė Kazonaitė and accordionist Tadas Motiečius; actress Birutė Mar, vocalist Irena Milkevičiūtė and pianist Rūta Mikelaitytė-Kašubienė will weave the fabric of music and poetry.
Rare alto and accordion duo performed by Greta Staponkutė and Augustinas Rakauskas will present their programme “Rhapsody for Two”; Robertas Beinaris and Virginijus Barkauskas project will mix the oboe and organs under the arches of the church.
Chamber music lovers will have several chances to walk through the labyrinths of this genre with the violinist Barbora Valiukevičiūtė who has returned from the USA and her partner pianist Julija Sadaunykaitė, and with the prizewinner of the Niccolo Paganini competition violinist from China Mengla Huang and the Čiurlionis String Quartet. The treasures of Lithuanian music will reveal the creative Kaunas String Quartet; the Kaunas Piano Trio and baritone Giedrius Prunskus will perform the most beautiful melodies from the musicals with the programme “The Night in Broadway”; romantic Russian vocal music will be presented by Raminta Vaicekauskaitė and pianist Beata Vingraitė; the guests form Russia Mila Shkirtil and pianist Yuri Serov will bring the programme of Russian, Czech, and Slovakia composers songs.
The colourful 24th Pažaislis Music Festival invites everyone willing to get acquainted and united with the cultures of the European Union countries, those who are looking for the live sound and are willing to experience new sensations and get new impressions. The organizers of the festival sincerely believe that each concert of the festival will attract many listeners, that wonderful summer weather and joy will follow every event of the festival, and all attending people will experience that unique feeling of the knowledge joy.
Join us at the concerts of the 24th Pažaislis Music Festival!
English text: Alison Ahearn