IIth St. James festival, 2012
About the festival
On 8 September 2012, the Church of St. Apostles Philip and James hosted the opening of the 2nd St. James Festival, which provides Vilnius’ residents and guests with the opportunity to enjoy sacred music in a series of concerts featuring professional Lithuanian and international choirs. The Festival has expanded its reach: from this year on St. Francis Xavier Church and Jesuit Monastery will be another regular venue for the Festival’s concerts.
This year the Festival’s audience was introduced to Slavic sacred music performed by Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir and VASKRESINNIA Chamber Choir of Ivan-Frankivsk, Ukraine, at the Church of St. Apostles Philip and James Vilnius and St. Francis Xavier Church and Jesuit Monastery Kaunas. Lithuanian choral music was represented by the country’s three leading choirs, Kaunas State Choir (artistic director and principal conductor Petras Bingelis), Šiauliai State Chamber Choir POLIFONIJA (artistic director Tomas Ambrozaitis) and VILNIUS Choir (artistic director and principal conductor Povilas Gylys).
At the core of the Festival programme were large-scale works performed by VILNIUS Choir. The opening concert at St. Apostles Philip and James Church featured Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ; in the closing concert, VILNIUS joined opera soloists Sandra Janušaitė, Inesa Linaburgytė, Algirdas Janutas and Vladas Bagdonas and pianists Audronė Juozauskaitė and Dainius Jozėnas for the performance of Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle.
The program of the festival
A. Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir
Moscow’s A. Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir was founded in 1936 and is known in Russia and throught the world because of their high choir culture traditions. A great contribution in the creative biography of the collective was left by the initial choir’s artistic directors Nikolai Danilin (1937-1940) and Aleksandr Svechnikov (1936-1937, 1941-1980). The personalities of these bright people and their unique esthetic positions as well as performance mannerisms have predetermined the choir’s work in the following decades while the vocal culture and the interpretations of pieces has become distinctive Russian singing standard.
A broad repertoire in the first decade included Russian folk songs and classical choral works. The unique interpretations of Russian folk songs composed by the choir leader at the time (A. Sveshnikov) allowed the collective to successfully appear in worldwide stages and to earn universal appraisal from music critics, performers and listeners alike.
Between 1980 and 2007 the choir was led by exceptional and outstanding Russian choir culture personalities, namely, Igor Agafonikov, Vladimir Minin, Evgenij Titiank, Igor Rajevskij, Boris Tevlin. Since this year’s summer the choir is led by Evgeny Volkov. Moscow’s A.V.Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir is actively performing in Russia and abroad, has won prestigious international contests, is ant international project organizer and festival participant. The Choir’s leader Evgeny Volkov is a graduate of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory’s choral conducting department and since 2011 is the docent of the modern choral art performance department. Between 2008 and 2011 Volkov was the choirmaster of the Moscow’s A. Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir. This year after the death of the choir artist director (a famous Russian choir culture corypheus B. Tevlin), E. Volkov was assigned as the artistic director.
Chamber choir Voskresinnia
The Ukrainan Chamber choir Voskresinnia from the city of Ivano-Frankovsk was formed in 2009 next to the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection. The choir is composed of young and talented Ukrainian students and graduates. One of the main goals of this collective is to popularize Ukrainian sacred music and to present music of the less known Ukrainian composers. The choir’s repertoire includes works by Mikola Dileckij, Maksym Berezovsky, Artemy Vedel, Mykola Leontovych, Kiril Stecenko and other composers.
The four year old collective remember their brightest moments during the sacred music festival’s “From Christmas to Easter”, performance in Lvov’s dominical cathedral, in the international festival “Praise the Lord from Heaven” in Drohobych, concert dedicated to the 260th birth anniversary of Dmitry Bortniansky and lastly the international sacred music competition “Hainuvka 2012” in Bialystok (Poland) when the choir won the prize.
The conductor of Ivano-Frankovsk chamber choir is Lvov’s National Music Academy’s graduate Volodimir Rudnickij.
Kaunas state choir
Kaunas state choir founded in 1969 in one of the biggest Lithuanian professional choirs. Petras Bingelis is the artist manager and chief conductor of the choir since their first rehearsals until today.
In time we creative biography of the choir broadened from small scale musical works, folk songs and works of Lithuanian composers, the choir moved to larger scale compositions such as the first W.A.Mozart’s “Requiem” performed in 1971. Later the repertoire was mastered with the classical large scale works. That is where the choir found their own place. From 1930 to 1974 the choir’s biography was filled with many names of Lithuanian and world renown artists such as Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Justus Franz, Krzystof Penderecki, Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Fedosejev, Juozas Domarkas, Saulius Sondeckis, Jonas Aleksa, Gintaras Rinkevičius and others. The national choir of Kaunas has performed with famous orchestras: the Russian National Orchestra, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, Moscow and Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, Argentina’s, Polish, Bordeaux, Paris and Lithuania’s symphony and chamber orchestras.
Currently the most important part of the choir’s repertoire is composed of 80 large scale musical works. The choir gladly performs national works: oratories by B. Kutavičius, J. Juzeliūnas, “Requiem” by V. Bartulis, works of J. Naujalis, S. Šimkus, B. Dvarionas, V. Jakubėnas, J. Kačinskas and other authors.
Petras Bingelis is the choir’s artistic director and principal conductor. He has received the national culture and art premium. In 1995 he received the 4th Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas. In 2003 he received and order for his achievments for Lithuania and for his merits for the city of Kaunas he received the 1st class Santakos Honorary Sign. P. Bingelis is the founder and artist manager of Pažaislio music festival, long year standing “Dainų Švenčių” chief conductor and a professor in the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy.
Šiauliai State Chamber Choir POLIFONIJA
Polifonija is one of the oldest professional choirs in Lithuania. It developed from a vocal ancient music ensemble founded by conductor Sigitas Vaičiulionis. Later the choir was named Polifonija and received the status of a professional group. Since 2011, the group is directed by Tomas Ambrozaitis.
Broad repertoire of the choir includes compositions from the Renaissance to the present day music. The choir performed with the Lithuanian National and State Symphony Orchestras, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra, Klaipėda State Music Theatre and Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius Sinfonietta, the Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces, the State Wind Instrument Orchestra Trimitas, the State Chamber Orchestra of the Republic of Belarus, Lvov Philharmonic Orchestra (Ukraine), St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra (Russia), as weel as with such ensembles as Musica Humana, Academy of Ancient Music (Russia), and other prominent music groups.
Artistic director and principal conductor Tomas Ambrozaitis.