January 12 St. A concert was held in St. John’s Church dedicated to the Day of Defenders of Freedom of Lithuania, to commemorate the struggle of the Baltic countries for independence and Ukraine, which is going through a war. At the beginning, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian choirs performed “Melody” by the Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk (soloist soprano Erika Kviatkovskaja, conductor Artūras Dambrauskas). After the songful, emotional piece, the chairman of the Seimas Culture Committee, professor Vytautas Juozapaitis, spoke. He emphasized that 32 years ago, on that night from January 12th to 13th, perhaps the main battle of the Lithuanian nation of recent times took place: “On that fateful night, holding hands, we had only one weapon: the word “Lithuania” and songs. The songs we sang at the TV tower, and even when the Russo-fascist tanks drove over the living people, we did not retreat, even though it was terrible. We knew that no one but us would defend the honor. Today, we, the three brotherly states, join hands and sing again, as we did then, on the Baltic road. And this is our strength against those beasts that despise all that is human. And we sing. And today we sing in this sanctuary in honor of those who laid down their innocent heads, sacrificed their lives that night, and those who today in Ukraine defend not only their holy land and Motherland, but also the freedom and future of all of us.”
Next, the five-part piece “Baltic Mass” conceived by the initiative of the State Choir “Vilnius”, matured for a long time and created for the first time by three composers from the Baltic countries – Ülo Krigulos, Rihards Dubra and Donats Zakars – played. The world premiere was performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (artistic director Tonju Kaljuste), winner of two Grammys, the State Choir “Latvija” (artistic director Maris Sirmaisas), the largest choir in the Baltic States celebrating its 80th anniversary, and the State Choir “Vilnius” (artistic director Artūras Dambrauskas). “Vilnius” is characterized by the dissemination of national music, flexible and diverse access to repertoire and audience, international projects and is one of the most important collectives in the country. The solo parts were performed by Erika Kviatkovskaja, Eglė Čičinskaitė-Samoilovienė, Laimonas Bendaravičius, Pavel Hontsa, Paulius Klangauskas and Marius Turlajus. The joint choir was conducted by Artūras Dambrauskas.
The first parts of Requem aeternam and Kyrie, saturated with static, continued consonances, tonally wandering tones of the soloist, written by the Estonian Krigulo, conveyed the emotions of pain, sadness and thoughts hidden in the text using modern means, according to the composer, which help to endure difficulties. Created by Lietuvius Zakars, Credo is a composition with a much more mobile, diverse and wider sound arsenal, close to the tradition of church music. Credo sounded very good due to its clear and flexible musical language, rich rhythms and timbres, penetrating textures. Latvian Dubro’s Sanctus et Benedictus and Agnus Dei took up the majority of the composition, sounding one after the other like a gallery of contrasting paintings. These are broad, slow canvases that seek to convey sacred feelings, joyful, moving episodes of choppy rhythms, then a fugue that affirms God’s glory and deliverance, and a lot of other diverse, profound musical material that was simply a pleasure to immerse yourself in.
I am glad that this concert once again testified to the old and deep choral music traditions of the three Baltic countries, which lie in the historical and ethnic dispersion, which has turned into professional creation, and the fact that they are successfully continued. Stylistically different strokes, the mass sounded impressive and with the color characteristic of the choral tradition of each country, but everything was united by a common idea and professional experience of writing sacred music. I have no doubt that this piece will become one of the most prominent decorations in the choir’s repertoire.