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The 18th Vilnius Festival: from Händel to... Händel!

14 April 2014

Launched by the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society in 1997, the Vilnius Festival every year indulges the audience with the world music stars, combining diverse music art styles, theatre and dance. Traditionally held at the beginning of the summer, this culture celebration enjoys its 18th edition. The Festival will present eight original programmes (2-21 June 2014).

Monday 2 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet theatre. The opening of the Vilnius Festival introduces the Aterballetto contemporary dance company. Established in 1979, it is a modern ballet company, involving dancers-soloists, skilled in classical ballet technique as well as dynamics and expression if the movement, at ease with a range of dance styles from academic to contemporary productions. Vilnius Festival audience will be introduced to Come un respiro (after music by Händel) and Rossini Cards (after music by Rossini), the works by Mauro Bigonzetti, the artistic director and chief choreographer of Aterballetto, one of the leading contemporary choreographers. Come un respiro is a dance uniting the chamber quality of dance movement accompanied by the music of Baroque genius Händel. This choreographic composition is juxtaposed to the cheerful and witty dance spectacle Rossini Cards, which, according to the creators, is built without a continuous scenario and is dominated by abstract images and movements.

Thursday 5 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall presents one of Lithuania’s leading collectives – the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra led by charismatic Maestro Modestas Pitrėnas offering the audience a premiere – Concerto for piano and orchestra by Lithuanian composer Gintaras Sodeika – featuring pianist Gryta Tatorytė. She has appeared in such festivals as Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Michel Sogny in Switzerland and Pianistit Tunturissa in Lapland, earned prizes in international competitions in Lithuania, France, Germany, Italy, etc. After intermission the Vilnius Festival will join the world music community in celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Richard Strauss, the German composer active at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The LNSO will present symphonic poem Don Juan and his last opus a vocal cycle Four Last Songs, a true symphony for voice and orchestra. In these songs the orchestra shares the stage with Aga Mikolaj, an opera diva appearing in major opera theatres in Europe and enjoying critical praise for her performances of Mozart and Richard Strauss.

Friday 6 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall will turn into a paradise of voices. On the occasion of National Day of Sweden the Vilnius Festival presents Swedish vocal jazz group The Real Group. The group has sung together since 1984. They have been voted the world's best vocal group by global organization CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society of America) and have, over the years, received many awards for their albums and solo performances, among them awards that have previously gone to groups such as Singers Unlimited, Manhattan Transfer and Take 6. The Real Group has worked with quite an array of global artists, for example Barbara Hendricks, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Van Morrison, Sir George Martin and Toots Thielemans. They have worked with such Swedish artists as Titiyo, Lisa Nilsson, ABBA’s Frida and Povel Ramel.

Sunday 8 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall will submerge in a concerto genre. The stage will be graced by the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, its temperamental artistic director violinist Sergej Krylov, always brimming with unique ideas, and internationally acclaimed violist Maxim Rysanov, dubbed the viola innovator. Tonight Rysanov will not only play viola, but also conduct Schnittke’s Concerto grosso No. 1. The aforementioned musicians will also share the stage with cellist from Russia Alexander Ramm, a winner of numerous international competitions, Džeraldas Bidva, the principal violin of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and harpsichordist Vaiva Eidukaitytė-Storastienė. The programme will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Alfred Schnittke’s music, the latter is to mark the composer’s 80th birth anniversary.

Thursday 12 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall will present Celebrating Bach. Vilnius welcomes British Baroque experts – Academy of Ancient Music and renowned harpsichordist and orchestra director Richard Egarr. In Celebrating Bach, featuring Bach’s vibrant concerti and suites gleaming with all baroque adornments, the seasoned early music masters will verify that Bach’s music is immortal.

Tuesday 17 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall presents a piano recital. This year this position is entrusted to charismatic pianist Lukas Geniušas. A member of famous dynasty of musicians, Lukas often jokes, that he wasn’t given a chance to pick out the profession: since he was a child he has been surrounded by musicians who never let him free… “Now I can’t imagine a different life. At the age five I was put on the pianist’s path and now am grateful to all those who did it.” The pianist is going to perform Beethoven, Brahms and Prokofiev’s sonatas (No. 3, No. 1 and No. 7) and Béla Bartók’s three burlesques.

Thursday 19 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall will present Roby Lakatos and his group. He is not only a scorching virtuoso (known as ‘violinist with the most agile fingers’), but also a musician of extraordinary stylistic versatility. Equally comfortable performing classical music as he is playing jazz and his own Hungarian folk idiom, Lakatos is the rare musician who defies definition. Lakatos and his group always present striking stylistic blend, combining classical music with vibrant Hungarian and Romani magic. Such a blend does not epitomize disrespect to academic culture heritage, but rather reflects deeply rooted tradition of Romani music culture, which can offer listeners the greatest pleasure.

Friday 20 June and Saturday 21 June, 19:00, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet theatre. The Vilnius Festival closes with Händel’s Alexander’s Feast, the joined production with the Palace of Arts, Budapest (Hungary). The oratorio will be presented in a staged format. In 2007, PI Vilnius Festivals presented first staged oratorio – St. John Passion (J.S Bach) directed by Robert Wilson. This production earned warm recognition from both the Lithuanian musical community and international critics. Thus the P.I. Vilnius Festivals initiates a staged production of a new oratorio, which should draw attention not only of Lithuanian but also foreign musicians, art lovers, critics and everyone interested in extraordinary productions. This production is made possible by a strong and professional team – music director and conductor Rolf Beck (led the production of St. John Passion in 2007), director Csaba Kael, scenographer Éva Szendrényi, costume designer Juozas Statkevičius. This production is partly sponsored by the Lithuanian Culture Council.

For more information on the festival go to: www.vilniusfestival.lt Tickets are on sale!