VIth ŠV. Jokūbo festival, 2016
About the festival
Enthusiastic, professional, exuding a special spiritual quality, St. James Festival is returning to Vilnius together with the arrival of autumn on 4 September – 15 October to warm up Vilnius’ residents and visitors with the sound of sacred music. This year has been special for the Festival’s hosts, Dominican brothers of St. Apostles Philip and James Church, who celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the Order.
The Festival featured not only the leading Lithuanian professional choirs, orchestras and soloists, but also the Student Choir of the Belarusian State Academy of Music (led by I. Bodyako), which fascinated the audience with its high artistic standards. Apart from its hosts, VILNIUS Choir, the Festival attracted a wide range of participants including Vilnius University Schola Cantorum Vilnensis (led by Romualdas Gražinis), the Lithuanian Armed Forces Headquaters Band (led by Major Egidijus Ališauskas), Šiauliai State Chamber Choir POLIFONIJA and others.
The Festival presented two premieres: the new Pastoral Mass from one of today’s most prominent and active Lithuanian choir conductors, Vytautas Miškinis, and Choir Concerto by Alfred Schnittke, which was performed by VILNIUS Choir for the first time in Lithuania. Concerts took place in the Festival’s two regular venues, the Vilnius Church of St. Apostles Philip and James and St. Francis Xavier Church and the Jesuit Monastery in Kaunas. Over five years of its existence, the Festival has become not only the main propagator of sacred music, but also one of Vilnius’ cultural attractions, enriching the capital city and other Lithuanian towns with professional performances of local and international artistic ensembles.
The moments of the festival
The program of the festival
Halfway into its fifth decade of activity, the “Vilnius” choir is one of the most prominent Lithuanian ensembles specializing in choral music. Famous for its mature and artistic performances, educational activities and varied repertoire, the choir has mastered an extended fund of classical pieces from different epochs of the past. At the same time it actively participates in contemporary artistic life. On stage, the choir has collaborated with some of the most famous soloists and principal Lithuanian orchestras.
The artistic maturity of “Vilnius” was established over the years with the help of its directors, who tirelessly nurtured the professionalism of the ensemble. The current chief conductor of the choir is the famous Lithuanian chorus master and pedagogue Artūras Dambrauskas, who stepped into the position in 2015 instead of the long-time artistic director and conductor prof. Povilas Gylys. Having established new pathways in the creative life of the choir, the conductor brought in same youthful changes that promoted the artistic growth of the ensemble and allowed it to reveal its versatility even better.
“Vilnius” is paying special attention to the promotion of Lithuanian music: every year the ensemble prepares premieres of the pieces written by our composers, and the greater part of choir’s recording consists of works by Lithuanian authors.
The International St. James Festival, which has been organized since 2001, is another initiative of the “Vilnius” choir; every autumn it creates unforgettable meetings with the sacred choral music.
Schola Cantorum Vilnensis
Student choir of the Belarusian state academy of music
The history of the ensemble reaches back to the year 1962, when a mixed choir of students was brought together in a newly established Choral Conducting Department of the Belarusian State Academy of Music. For 45 years it was led by a prominent figure of the country’s musical life professor Viktor Rovdo, who introduced the ensemble to professional heights and international arenas. The choir achieved exceptional success and appreciaton in 1990, when it won awards in competitions hosted in Moldova, Germany, Poland and Belarus.
Since 2007 the choir’s artistic director and conductor has been Inessa Bodyako. She is a laureate of various international competitions and Head of the Choral Conductor Department, successfully continuing the work that was started by V. Rovdo. The new creative chapter of the choir is marked not only by glowing press reviews that praise the high quality of singing, harmonious sound end exceptional mastership, but also by victories achieved at prestigious international competitions in Poland, Germany, Russia, Switzrland.
The student Choir of the Belarusian State Academy of Music is actively performing both in its homeland and abroad. It was this ensemble that introduced to the Belarusian people such works as G. F. Handel’s “Israel in Egypt”, A. Schnittke’s “Reqiem”, G. Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess” and other pieces. Lately the choir has been implementing the project “Pages of Choir in the 20th century” and presenting in its concerts the contemporary Polish, Swiss, Bulgarian, Latin American choral music. Singers of the choir are regularly participating in masterclasses of foreign pedagogues. Over the last decade the choir has released three CDs and two DVDs.
Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces
The Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces was established on 4 September 1991. Its first kapellmeister was major Justinas Jonušas (1938-2013). The orchestra currently consists of 57 professional musicians led by kapellmeister major Egidijus Ališauskas whois assisted by conductor captain Dainius Pavilionis.
The Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces is participating in the welcoming ceremonies of state’s guests, the solemn events of the state, celebrations of Lithuania’s armed forces, and is hosting defilades. The Orchestra is also performing for the people of Lithuania and has released seven recordings.
Ever since its established the orchestra has been collaborating with other military orchestras and conductors of the European Union and NATO. It has successfully participated in festivals of military music and concerts in Germany, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Estonia, Sweden, the Czech Republic.
The Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces has collaborated with soloists Povilas Stravinskas (piano), Sergijus Kirsenka (tuba), Daumantas Slipkus (piano), accompanied singers Virgilijus Noreika, Asmik Grigorian, Veronika Povilionienė, Charsie Sawyer, other performers and enembles.
The Orchestra of Lithuanian Armed Forces keeps over a thousand of works written by Lithuanian and foreign composers in its library, with pieces of music being preserved in cassettes and compact discs. A rather major part of orchestra’s recording is available at the audio libraries of the Lithuanian Radio and Television.
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.