Foreign-based Lithuanians are back in their homeland with classical music

  • 2011-04-06
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

BRAVO!: The Returns Festival’s opening concert of March 24 in the National Philharmonic Hall, with participation of Lithuanian opera star Virgilijus Noreika (second from the right).

VILNIUS - Lithuanians making their musical career, living or studying abroad, arrived home to their homeland for the traditional annual festival of classical music titled Sugrizimai (“Returns” in Lithuanian). The festival goes on until May 15.
On April 7 at 12:00, pianists, the multi-lingual Artas Balakauskas and his Thai aristocracy-origin wife Indhuon Balakauskiene (they met in romantic Paris, of course), as well as their violin-playing nine-year-old daughter Asta Worarat Balakauskaite will give a musical lesson-concert in the National School of Arts of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, located in front of St. Peter and Paul church in Vilnius. The Bangkok-based family will play pieces by Mozart, Clebanoff, Bernstein, and Lutoslawski, as well as pieces by Lithuanian classical music composer Osvaladas Balakauskas, who was the Lithuanian ambassador in Paris in 1992-1994 and who is the father of Artas Balakauskas.

On April 26 at 18:00, Aukse Trinkunaite, the mezzo-soprano from South Africa, together with Lithuanian bass Ignas Misiura-Tumanovas and Lithuanian pianist Daiva Petrucionyte will perform operatic highlights and songs by Handel, Dvorak, Ravel, Richfield, Zigaitis, Mozart and Rossini in the Museum of Applied Arts (better known as Arsenal, situated at Arsenalo Street 3) in Vilnius. Trinkunaite studied vocal art in Lithuania and went for an additional traineeship in South Africa, where she decided to stay. Trinkunaite is a singing star of the classics in that African region and is a professor in Johannesburg’s Crawford and St. Stithians musical colleges now.

On April 27 at 18:00, the four Daunyte sisters – Joana (harp), Vita Marija (flute), Elena (cello), and Kotryna Ugne (violin) – will play pieces by Walter, Reinecke, Gaubert, Bartholdy, Barkauskas, Pakalnis, and Vasiliauskaite in the noble interior of Vilnius Picture Gallery (Didzioji Street 4 in Vilnius’ Old Town). Joana and Vita Marija are studying in Switzerland, while Elena and Kotryna Ugne are studying in Lithuania. They are the daughters of Vaidotas Daunys, the Catholic poet and writer who died in 1995 due to an accident during an air balloon festival in Vingio Park in Vilnius. 

On May 3 at 18:00, Martynas Levickis, a young Lithuanian studying in the Royal Music Academy in London, together with Lithuania-based pianists Aleksandra Zvirblyte and her son Paulius Andersson, will play pieces by Bach, Nordheim, Hermosa, Brahms, Bacevicius, and Piazzolla in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vilnius. Levickis is the winner of the TV competition titled Lithuanian Talents 2010. He also performed in The One Show on BBC – this show attracts, on average, an audience of five million viewers in the UK.

Those are just a few of the events from the Sugrizimai program. More info is available at  
There is also another classical musical phenomena in Vilnius related to Lithuanians living abroad, although it has nothing to do with the Sugrizimai festival. It is opera performances by the Bohemieciai (“Bohemians” in Lithuanian) group. Its director is Dalia Ibehauptaite, who has been living in London since 1991, but she visits Vilnius frequently to stage operas by the Bohemians.

They usually perform in Vilnius Congress Concert Hall (“Kongresu Rumai” in Lithuanian version). Lithuanian opera singers making their careers in theaters of Western Europe are also participating in projects by the Bohemians. Ibelhauptaite staged operas in the theaters of London, New York, Italy, Holland, Israel and other countries. Interestingly enough, in 1997, she married Dexter Fletcher, who became quite a famous English actor after his role in the movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Guy Ritchie (the latter was a husband of pop star Madonna for some time). Opera performances by the Bohemians are a must for lovers of opera, of the full-blooded vocal performance and extremely modern staging. The Magic Flute, by Mozart, will be performed in Vilnius Congress Concert Hall on April 15, 16 and 17 at 19:00. For more info on the Bohemians’ opera performances and ticket purchase look at