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Lithuanian Culture Institute

A rhythm created with stones and words “Hello, our kinsman!” in the extinct language of the Yotvingian tribe opened the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival in Tel Aviv on 26 March. The chamber choir “Aidija” conducted by Romualdas Gražinis started the first concert of the festival with the ritualistic oratorio “From the Yotvingian Stone” by Bronius Kutavičius. This contemporary insight into the archaic past became the first acquaintance of Israeli audiences with the diversity of Lithuanian music scene, brought for the first time to the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival by the series of Lithuanian events taking place in Tel Aviv under the title of “Lithuanian Story”.

On 26 March, the programme of the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival featured as many as three concerts organised by the Lithuanian Culture Institute within “Lithuanian Story”: a recital by the pianist Andrius Žlabys followed the performance by the chamber choir “Aidija”, while closing the evening was the joint concert by Israel Chamber Orchestra led by the conductor Giedrė Šlekytė, soloist Martynas Levickis (accordion) and “Aidija”.

A prologue to the musical events of the festival became the documentary “How We Played The Revolution” by the director Giedrė Žickytė, which tells the story about Rock marches in Lithuania and the phenomenon of the Singing Revolution.

“As an organiser and artistic director of an international festival, I seek music and performers who could deliver a new, unexpected musical experience”, said the Director of the Felicja Blumental International Music Center and Festival Avigail Arnheim. “Listening to the first Martynas Levickis’ concert in Tel Aviv a year ago I realised that I would like to invite Lithuanian musician to my festival, that our programme should include pieces of Lithuanian music. The Lithuanian cultural attaché Elena Keidošiūtė and I were in touch, also my colleagues and I independently studied Lithuanian music culture and discovered a lot of beauty and the highest level of mastery”, shared the festival director before the festival.

The Lithuanian story which was taken over by the chamber choir “Aidija” and started with B. Kutavičius’ oratorio, continued with Juozas Gudavičius’ song “Where Forests Green” which is performed at every Lithuanian Song Festival and pieces by R. Gražinis, Onutė Narbutaitė, Vaclovas Augustinas and Zita Bružaitė. One of the most prominent Lithuanian pianists Andrius Žlabys who currently resides in the US, has been nominated for the prestigious “Grammy” award and is eagerly awaited in the major concert hall of the world, included in his recital a programme of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, M. K. Čiurlionis, Mieczyslaw Weinberg and César Franck.

At the centre of the final concert is the conductor who is also promoting Lithuania’s name abroad Giedrė Šlekytė, currently based in Klagenfurt (Austria) city theatre orchestra. She led Israel Chamber Orchestra which was joined by Martynas Levickis and the chamber choir “Aidija” to perform pieces by W. A. Mozart and F. Handel, Raminta Šerkšnytė’s “De Profundis”, Arvydas Malcys’ SCHERZO from the Accordion and string orchestra concert and Bronius Kutavičius’ “Autumn Wealth”.

The largest to date presentation of contemporary Lithuanian culture will last from the beginning of March until the end of May. “Lithuanian Story. Culture Festival in Tel Aviv 2019” aims to introduce Israel’s audiences to Lithuanian artists from the fields of poetry, classical and contemporary music, performance, dance and film.

On 16 April, Tel Aviv Museum of Art will welcome audiences to an evening of performances by the performance and sound artist Lina Lapelytė “Candy Shop and Other Dances“. On 4 May, “Lithuanian Story” will turn towards contemporary indie and electronic music scene. Performing in cult Tel Aviv clubs  “Teder“ and “Alphabet“ within the “Vilna Connection“ events will be DJs Manfredas, “12 inčų po žeme” and V. (Vidmantas Čepkauskas ), Lithuanian bands “Maps”, “Shishi” and the Israeli band “Red Axes”. 23-25 May will become the first weekend of the Lithuanian contemporary dance, organised by the Lithuanian Culture Institute in collaboration with the Lithuanian Dance Information Centre – it will take place in Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre. “Lithuanian Story” in Tel Aviv will conclude with documentary films. In collaboration with the Lithuanian Film Centre, a documentary “Animus Animalis (a story about People, Animals and Things)” directed by Aistė Žegulytė will be screened as part of the festival “Docaviv”.

The festival is organised by the Lithuanian Culture Institute together with the Lithuanian cultural attaché in Israel Elena Keidošiūtė, and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Israel.