Any music festival is much more than the concerts that are performed during its duration. The Vivace Vilnius Festival for up and coming musicians is a dazzling example of that.
The concerts, performed by the Master Instructors, students, and starting off with the Grand Trio Vilnius are jewels in the crown of the festival. The music was proceeded by an introduction by Vilnius Town Hall Director Perlis Vaisieta and Vice President of The Lithuanian American Community of New England District Dr. Regina Balcaitiene, who congratulated and honored the festival’s Founder and Director, Egle Jarkova. The evening’s musicians, Petras Geniusas (piano), Dalia Kuznecovaitė (violin) and David Geringas (cello) kicked off the festival with an unusual program featuring Penderecki, Schubert, Šenderovas and Schönberg, treating the audience to their world class interpretation of these works. The packed Town Hall in Vilnius was a recognition of their dynamic synergy and the appreciative audience convinced the Trio to treat them with one more number.
With this satisfying start, we were eager to hear what was coming next. The August first performance at the Museum of Applied Arts and Design by Markus Placci (violin) and Jonathan Bass (piano) was a masterful display of the extremely varied ways in which a violin can speak, including the conversation with piano. Captivating and breath taking, their rendering of Beethoven, Debussy and Stravinsky left the audience spellbound. One young student exclaimed, “I’ve never heard so many shades of color from a violin!” The concert was attended by General Consulate of the Republic of Lithuania in New York Vaclovas Šalkauskas who also welcomed the audience and congratulated the festival for its eleventh year of existence.
The students displayed a variety of gifts in the concert on August 2nd showcasing piano, violin, viola and cello. The multitude and depth of skill and intent made this a pleasure to attend. It was also a signal about the connections being made between instructor and students. Without a great deal of time for lessons, each hour is vital and well used, each collaboration opening new possibilities for the young performers, ranging in age overall from 14-30, with most between 18 and 22, and a pair of very young violinists age 11.
A number of the stringed instruments performed at the VUL Santaros Clinics for children on August 2nd, and 3rd at the medical conference “Personalized Cancer Treatment”, including all ten festival cellists playing the G Rossini William Tell Overture for cello Ensemble.
The concert in the evening at the Samuel Bak Museum that started with the welcome speech by Vieri Sorace-Maresca, director of Italian Institute of Culture in Vilnius, featured all Jewish composers, and was delivered to us with passion and grace by Luigi Piavano (cello) and Inga Vyšniaukaitė (piano). They Evoked both the searing pain and devastation endured by Vilnius’ Jewish population, as well as the hope for deliverance to a better time. Set in the museum with an exhibit of Bak’s work, this was a powerful reminder of the importance of both art and music to express what words cannot. The recital was sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute.
Friday brought us Boston based Jonathan Bass (piano) solo tour de force, encompassing a variety of intense and emotional as well as technical terrain, and holding us throughout.
The final concert of Master Class students was a reminder of what this festival is about. With students hailing from Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Ukraine, the United States, Indonesia, and Mongolia they collectively displayed a poise, focus, intent and passion that left us all with tremendous hope for the future of classical music. The young violin duet of Pranciškus Kurauskas and Emanuele Jakštaitė began the program, impressing us with what is possible at their tender ages and were followed by violinists, cellists and pianists treating us with works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Popper, Ravel, Liszt, Messiaen, Milstein and Chopin. Although nearly three hours long, the concert seemed half that length due to the diversity and depth of talent.
The mentors were also inspired, appreciative of the talent and dedication these young performers displayed, ensuring the ongoing place of Classical music in the world. There are so many layers of connection that occur. The instruction of these fine musicians gives them a lift as well as new insights into the music they’re playing, and how it can be conveyed. Introduction to like minded musicians in other countries is a beautiful bridge, the universal language uniting them in performance, world view, and understanding. The connection with the audience is palpable, the very informed and appreciative Vilnius audiences clearly demonstrating the vitality of this link. Receiving is as important as giving, and the positive expectation of this reciprocal loop encouraged the heartfelt offerings of those onstage.
Vivace Vilnius is funded in part by the generosity of donors. Egle Jarkova has organized this philanthropic endeavor for all eleven years, and donates her own time and substantial financial contribution. She has held to her generous vision of the festival being free for participants as well as concert attendees. The Festival was encouraged and hugely supported by Davi-Ellen and Bruce Chabner, Ricardo and Marla Lewitus and others. The Chabners, earliest and enthusiastic donors, were present for the entirety of the festival, imbuing it with extra meaning. Their obvious delight and appreciation of every concert was evident, particularly the inclusion of Ukrainian musicians this year. In an interview following the festival, Ukrainian sisters Eva and Maya Konstantinova glowed when talking about their experience at Festival. “We felt so welcomed and included. Everyone was so friendly. It was so exciting to get to know people from all over the world. Something changed for us as a result of this festival. We feel transformed as musicians.” And there it is, the magic of bringing people together for music making. This one week has shifted the way these young women (and others) see themselves, bolstered their confidence and outlook as they move forward. Huge hats off to all of them, and to Egle Jarkova for creating this opportunity for growth and life giving sustenance.
As a 501c non-profit charity, www.VivaceVilnius.org is always seeking outside support to help provide this unique opportunity to the students and attendees alike