The unique Baltic Mass to premiere on the eve of the Freedom Defenders’ Day
12 January 2023, Vilnius. A unique cultural event of significance to all three Baltic countries – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – will be held at the Church of Sts. Johns in Vilnius, where, at the initiative of the State Choir Vilnius, choral groups from the three countries will join forces to perform the world premiere of The Baltic Mass. It is for the first time that the composers and the professional choirs from the three Baltic countries united to create and perform a commemorative work dedicated to the Baltic struggles for independence and to Ukraine currently at war against Russian invaders.
The mass is in five movements written in collaboration between the prize-winning Estonian composer, Ülo Krigul (Kyrie, Requiem aeternam), Rihards Dubra, one of the most celebrated Latvian composers of sacred music (Sanctus et Benedictus, Agnus Dei), and Lithuanian composer Donatas Zakaras whose reputation mainly rests on choral music (Credo). Among the performers of The Baltic Mass are the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (Founding Artistic Director and Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste), the State Choir Latvija (Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Māris Sirmais), and the State Choir Vilnius (Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Artūras Dambrauskas).
“Quite a few things have changed in the world after I received a proposal to compose two movements for The Baltic Mass,” Krigul told. “So, the initial plan to write Kyrie and Gloria transformed into Kyrie and Requiem aeternam. Sometimes it is really hard to find proper words to describe certain feelings, such as suffering, fear, and confusion. Then we can turn back to words that have helped endure all hardships since olden times. These words stand for what we cannot fully define. We say them in our prayers.” Talking about his contribution, Latvian composer Dubra came up with a question: “What is the main goal of music when viewed from the purely philosophical perspective? To affect one’s emotions. Like every person has to find his or her own way to God, every composer has to find his or her way to the emotional world through music, and thence towards God.” Zakaras admits that his goal was to make his music as comfortable for the singers as adaptable to the acoustics of the church: “The means of expression I employ are rather conventional, characteristic of the church music that we know, with some sonoristic variegation.” “Knowing wide-ranging possibilities of the singers from the State Choir Vilnius, in terms of voice range, timbre and sound production, I was blessed to use as many and varied (albeit conventional) expressive means as I wish,” he went on to say about his Credo.
This unique collaboration came out as a result of the initiative developed by the State Choir Vilnius and its Artistic Director, Artūras Dambrauskas, who has devoted much time and effort to bringing choral music closer to diverse audiences and mounting quite a few exceptional events and projects in the recent years. With a focus on the promotion of music from Lithuania and the neighbouring countries, the choir tries to keep pace with the current artistic creation, as well as to react to the momentous events of the past and present.
“The Baltic Mass is an outcome of the long-term collaboration between three state choirs from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The ‘three Baltic sisters’ reunited to present a unique project commemorating our common history. The Baltic Mass not only honours the dead but also celebrates hope and faith – in that different people from around the world will come together and defeat evil forces, just like the Baltic countries did some decades ago. At the same time, with The Baltic Mass we express our support and appreciation of Ukrainian people who fight for the independence and survival of their nation,” Dambrauskas said.
The State Choir Vilnius, together with its peer collectives from Latvia and Estonia, invite you to attend the world premiere of The Baltic Mass written by composers from the three Baltic countries. The admission to this concert to be held on 12 January 2023, at 8 pm, at the Church of Sts. Johns in Vilnius is free of charge.