Sunday, April 18, 2010

DAY 46 EUROPE TRIP - LITHUANIA – Vilnius – Song Festival

1 July 2009

LITHUANIA – Vilnius – Song Festival

This was our first chance to really reaquaint ourselves with Vilnius. I have always loved this city, its architecture, character, atmosphere.

We wandered through the streets. The Australian Consultate was within the vicinity.

I was a bit disappointed with Pilies Street as there were very few buskers, street stalls compared to what they used to have.

The town though looks fabulous as so much of it has been restored to its former glory. There are still parts that need rebuilding but it is amazing to see how much has been done in the last 7 years. Before coming I was told I wouldn’t recognise the place. In some ways that was very true. It is now a truly modertn European place that has retained its architecture. Sculptures adorn the city.

White paper peace doves is a decorative theme around the city for the 1,000 years celebration.

We wandered past the place where hubby and his sister lived as children. The bears on the outside of the building are still there. My sister-in-law calls them her bears as she used to come out as a little girl and play with them.

What a night! Emotions and adrenalin ran high as we witnessed the opening of the song festival and the preceding event ‘This is now 1,000 years on’. We wondered down to Sereikiškių Park not knowing what to expect for ‘This is now 1,000 years on’. The song festival emblem made from straw was at the entrance to the part.

We were not sure where to go as there were people going in all directions. The call of trumpets and horns guided us to the place where we experienced a unique musical and dramatical event.

Yellow, green and red braided cords hung from the trees capturing two traditional elements - the colours of the national flag intertwined with the traditional hair style of young girls – braided hair.

The performers carrrying the symbolic "everlasting flame‘ regally made their way to the stage.

Singers dressed in attire from a much earlier period of Lithuania’s history captured the spirit and essence of lithuanian folk music through the medium of a contemporary composition for voices and organ. It must have been composed taking into account the effect of voices. in the open air.

They progressed from the "stage" to the Vilnia River where the girls dressed in white vestal garments lit candles in their wreaths before letting them float down the river to the chanting of the "monks" across the river.

Then led by the mounted police, dressed in garb of the period,

we followed the crowd to Bernadinu Church for the next part of the event. The Langas Choir accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra performed within an impressive acoustic chamber.

We skipped the next part as we wanted to get seats for the opening concert „Pasisveikinkim vieni visus‘ (Let’s greet each other) at the Cathedral Square.

As we waited hot air ballons started flying overhead one by one.

A fanfare on traditional instruments performed by Sutaras, a group that has visited Australia several times opened the concert.

This was followed by a parade of national costumes from the main regions of Lithuania. The difference in the costumes was quite intriguing. The costumes also differed for the different generations within a region.

The main event consisted of songs sung by everyone present interspersed with video presentations covering 1,00 years of lithuanian history, culture, achievements in sport, the arts, academia and current youth.

A crowd of 1000s joined in the singing as views of the country unfolded on the screens. We were able to join in the singing as we knew the songs. It also helped when the words appeared on the screens as prompts. It was very unifying for all those visiting from other countries with lithuanian roots. The achievements of Ambersail were greeted with huge cheers. All aspects of life were covered. The soldiers dressed in regalia of the olden days were a real hit.

The grand finale was awesome although somewhat dragged out.

Several choirs and orchestra, 2 opera singers, folk singers and rap singers presented a piece composed specifially for the even that captured the music and sounds of Lithuania through the ages. It was a very striking, unique contemporary composition that had strong overtones of lithuanian traditional music. The contrast between rap and opera was magnificnetly handled as the interplay between both climaxed in a section where rap and classical blended pleasantly together. As the piece came to a climax fireworks and in particuar the sound of them going off was integrated into the composition.

Although a times the program appeared to be dragging as there were so many video presentations overall it was a great start to the festivities.

No comments: