Klaipėda International Cello Festival and Competition: Overview

Ketvirtadienis 11 gegužės 2017 15:41
"Orchestra of 100 Cellos". Credits: Donatas Bielkauskas
Between the 1st and 6th of May Klaipėda city, based in Lithuania, has shown an extreme enthusiasm for culture. The first Klaipėda International Cello Festival and Competition, which has been received with tremendous admiration, has now ended.
This event gathered the most famous world-class music stars as well as growing talents from 21 countries, which total number reached even 300. 58 music, theatre, cinema, dance and art events, dedicated to cello, attracted the most loyal music and art lovers to 22 venues in Klaipėda.
Some impressed members of the public said that “the festival of such type possibly never happened in Lithuania before”. This festival was indeed full of unexpected twists of classical music!

Monday started with the masterclasses given by the cello virtuoso Bruno Cocset (France), Klaipėda Puppet Theatre was resonating when the cheering children gathered at the premiere of the play “Father and the Sea” while the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi could barely let everyone in to hear the “Bach in a Different Key” performed by Ensemble Schönbrunn Amsterdam (The Netherlands). The Opening Concert of the Festival received a special attention from residents and guests of the city. Soloists Giovanni Sollima (Italy) and Monika Leskovar (Croatia) together with Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra demonstrated an exceptional virtuosity as well as unique and free sound of G. Sollima’s pieces. Later in the Ground Floor Foyer prof. Danutė Petrauskaitė (Lithuania) opened the exhibition on the cello school of Lithuania. It was also possible to have a look at the luxurious cello encrusted in amber. At the Night Concert members of the “Amber Quartet” (Lithuania) performed jazz improvisations playing the unique amber instruments.

Tuesday started with breakfast concerts called “Travelling Cellos”, which occurred in five different venues. After that, vibrant cello virtuoso Giovanni Sollima (Italy) gave masterclasses, Silvija Sondeckienė (Lithuania) revealed the common mistakes of the cello teaching methods and prof. Danutė Petrauskaitė (Lithuania) shared her knowledge of the history of the cello school. “Although there are lots of languages in the world, which seem very musical, the Lithuanian language has a distinctively beautiful sound” stated Anton Lukoszevieze (United Kingdom) when comparing the imperfections of intonations of speech with experimental cello music. Together with the dance theatre “Padi Dapi Fish” he explored the dialogue between the music and dance in the workshop “Sound movement”. Ramutė Kalnėnaitė (Lithuania) accompanied by Daiva Stulgytė (Lithuania) performed a refined set of chamber works in her Afternoon recital at the P. Domšaitis gallery. The Evening Concert was dedicated to the sound of Baroque, which was demonstrated by Bruno Cocset (France), Viola de Hoog (The Netherlands) and Menno van Delft (The Netherlands) who played the authentic Baroque instruments. During the crowded Night Concert at the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi six cello stars such as David Geringas (Lithuania-Germany), Mindaugas Bačkus (Lithuania), Gleb Pyšniak (Lithuania), Rimantas Armonas (Lithuania), Marius Urba (Lithuania-Germany) and Vytautas Sondeckis (Lithuania-Germany) gave a magical performance of all J. S. Bach Cello Suites.

The Wednesday programme was filled with experiments, contemporary sounds and eccentricity. While the morning started with the “Travelling Cellos” appearances in the various breakfast and coffee places of the city, cellists also rushed to see the masterclasses of Monika Leskovar (Croatia) and the workshop of Ramutė Kalnėnaitė (Lithuania). The ambassador of experimental music and admirer of the Fluxus movement Anton Lukoszevieze (United Kingdom) gave a distinctive audiovisual performance. Such contemporary music horizons have been further opened by the composer Justė Janulytė and her “Sandglasses”. The unique combination of cello sounds and visuals as well as lights surrounding the performers on stage amazed many members of the audience. ”It was indeed an unexpected twist of the programme” said some listeners, repeating the main communication message of the festival. Such feeling of unexpectedness was strengthened by the eccentric cellist Rushad Eggleston (USA). His performance included moments of walking on tables and playing whilst holding yoga poses. Art lovers gathered to the cinema to hear the Academy Award nominee, film director Josh Aronson (USA). Although he sometimes leaves the premiere screenings for prestigious film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival, this time the European premiere of “Talent Has Hunger” occurred at Klaipėda International Cello Festival. Some members of the public called this film “the biggest discovery of the festival so far”, which told a story of the legendary cellist Paul Katz’s four students and their different paths of life.

On Thursday the selection of winners of Klaipėda International Cello Competition was eventually completed. The Jury consisted of 14 world-class cello performers and pedagogues from Lithuania and other countries. The chairman of the Jury for the younger age groups Romanas Armonas (Lithuania) was proud to be able to return to the symbolic place of the birth of the Lithuanian professional cello school. He also stressed the exquisite innovations of the festival’s programme, even comparing it to the fresh wind of the sea. The chairman of the Jury for the mature age group David Geringas (Lithuania-Germany) together with other members of the Jury was astonished by the high preparation level of the competition participants. Here are the 1st prize winners of all four age groups (from the youngest to the oldest): Patricija Kasteckaitė (Lithuania), Daniil Nikonov (Russia), Jan Sekaci (Romania) and Rustem Khamidullin (Russia).
The festival programme did not allow the culture vultures to have some rest and provided them with even more exiting experiences. The “Travelling Cellos” was followed by the masterclasses that has been given by Silvija Sondeckienė (Lithuania) this time and the afternoon was dedicated to the exhibition of “Cello Makers of Lithuania”. The visitors were invited to examine how the instruments are created from up close and find out all professional secrets of the makers. The Lithuanian composers’ oeuvre flourished during the Armonas Uss Duo (Lithuania) chamber music performance. The Evening Concert broke all the standards of A. Vivaldi “The Four Seasons” – dance theatre “Padi Dapi Fish” and Klaipėda Cello Quartet presented their unique contemporary interpretation. This premiere piece has been received with roaring ovations. Such colourful Thursday programme was finished off by Justas Kulikauskas (Lithuania). The well-known popular music hits, arranged for cello and electronics, were warmly welcomed by the audience.

Friday started early for many music lovers as the group of cellists once again invited everyone to have breakfast or get some coffee in town. The little ones gathered to Klaipėda Puppet Theatre where the play “Father and Sea” transported them to the world of music and lights. Everyone interested to expand their knowledge chose to attend the workshop of Razvan Suma (Romania) and seminar-lesson of Tatjana Kuc (Lithuania) while the Pau Casals Foundation’s General Director Jordi Pardo (Spain) presented the foundation’s activities and possible opportunities for cellists. The chamber music lovers rushed to see Duo Urba (Germany) and their Afternoon Recital. The evening’s grand finale appeared to be the Klaipėda International Cello Competition Awards Ceremony and the performance of the 100 Cello Orchestra conducted by David Geringas (Lithuania-Germany) himself. Klaipėda Concert Hall was extremely crowded as the listeners were eager to witness such extraordinary moment for the Lithuanian music scene. Although the record was not officially aimed for, the number of cellists still easily extended the previously known record of cellists performing on the Lithuanian stage. For the final note of the night music lovers chose classical music and jazz improvisations performed by the talented virtuosos Lars Danielsson (Sweden) and Guarneri Cello Duet (Lithuania-Germany).  

Saturday was dedicated to families. The plentiful morning programme started with the “Travelling Cellos” and Suzuki Cello Orchestra that gathers young cellists of various ages. Little listeners and their parents were also able to learn to play this instrument and instantly performed an improvised piece on stage. After this, the audiences gathered to the park of Klaipėda Concert Hall to see the colourful “Cello Plein Air” where alongside the entertaining musical performances graffiti artists and young painters from several high schools finished their works in the theme of “The Playing City” and anyone interested were also able to join in. Slightly later, the Guarneri Cello Duet members Vytautas Sondeckis (Lithuania-Germany) and Sven Forsberg (Sweden-Germany) invited the public to hear the distinctive sound of Guarneri instruments in their Afternoon Recital. At the Closing Concert of the Festival soloists David Geringas (Lithuania-Germany), Karine Georgian (Armenia-United Kingdom) and Boris Andrianov (Russia) performed together with Liepaja Symphony Orchestra conducted by Modestas Pitrėnas. The programme included the magnificent works of P. Tchaikovsky, E. Elgar and R. Strauss. The Night Concert was set outside under the stars and promised an energising performance of Melo-M (Latvia) and C-Jam (Estonia). Their music show included various well-known works of Rammstein, Freddie Mercury, Marcus Mumford, Kurt Cobain, Ozzy Osborn and others.

It was a special week, full of a huge number of events that left an unbelievably great impression to the residents and city guests. We are very grateful to the City of Klaipėda, the festival supporter Mayor of Klaipėda Vytautas Grubliauskas, patron UAB "Limarko grupė", main partners Klaipėdos valstybinio jūrų uosto direkcija and newspaper "Klaipėda", sponsors Mercedes Benz, UAB „Vakarų medienos grupė", UAB „Gatvių apšvietimas“, AB „Telia Lietuva“ and other friends of the festival. However, the biggest gratitude goes to all the listeners who supported us.
Klaipėda, indeed, became the capital of cello!