SOUND CITY: Street musicians in the Vilnius Old Town on Street Musician Day of 2009.
VILNIUS - On the first Saturday of May, Vilnius looks very different, because this is the day when the streets of central Vilnius are occupied by hundreds of musicians who celebrate Street Musician Day. This year it will be on May 1. This is probably the most democratic, spontaneous and jolly annual event in Vilnius.
All kinds of musicians, from amateurs to superstars, are welcome in Vilnius’ streets, as well as absolutely all kinds of music are allowed: rock, gospel, jazz, blues, classics, folk, poetry with guitar, African rhythms and the rest of all the existing ways to sing and play musical instruments. Thousands of people are strolling through the streets of the Old Town, the area around Gedimino Avenue, the parks of Kalnu and Sereikiskiu, Uzupis district and the quarter of skyscrapers near Europos Square with the intention to enjoy this atmosphere of spirit of freedom.
Street Musician Day started in 2007. The idea to celebrate such a day belongs to Andrius Mamontovas, Lithuanian pop singer and film actor. This day of street music was also part of the “Vilnius - European capital of culture 2009” program.
Street Musician Day is already a Vilnius tradition. On the first Saturday of May 2007, some 700 musicians came to the streets of Vilnius. On May 2, 2009, some 4,000 musicians participated in Street Musician Day. Last year, this celebration was also held in many other Lithuanian towns. In Brussels and many other cities around the world where Lithuanians live, some Lithuanians went into the streets there to sing as well. In Vilnius it looked as follows: from Riga’s schoolgirls playing their music by step-dance, to the Lithuanian funky-style band InCulto, which will represent Lithuania in the Eurovision Contest in Oslo this year.
Due to that mass musical trance, Vilnius turns into a really jolly city. Among the crowds of listeners are students, MPs, drunkards, professors, and the rest of the bouquet of Vilnius’ society. This year on May 1 the same event will be simultaneously held in 42 other Lithuanian towns. It will even take up two days in the streets of the sea-resort Palanga.
More info at www.gatvesmuzika.lt (the site is in Lithuanian and English) where you can also register in case you want to demonstrate your vocal and other musical talents in the street on May 1. Already 600 musicians have registered in Vilnius. In case of registration, you will be advised about the most suitable Vilnius location for your style of music and you will be included into the Vilnius map with all registered singers which is presented to Vilniusites and tourists for free on May 1. This year, the variety of styles is huge. A student will sing in Japanese in Sereikiskiu Park, because she is studying Japanese and likes this language. Some gymnasts will present their show with the sounds of music of Latin America near the Lithuanian parliament. Organizers and their head Mamontovas recommend to register for those who plan to sing in Vilnius, but nobody will say a bad word to you if you spontaneously decide to sing something in the street on May 1. All spontaneous music shows are welcome.