24 June 2014, Tuesday
Courtyard of the Klaipėda Clock Museum
Nowadays the sonic cityscape of Klaipėda seems unthinkable without the sound of the carillon. The Klaipėda Carillon is one of two such instruments in Lithuania, whose audible presence over the years has become the signature of the harbour city. It was mounted in the tower of the Klaipėda Post Office in 1987. Since then the annual carillon music festivals had been organised in Klaipėda until 2003.
In 2006, this instrument was dismantled and soon after replaced by the new carillon, manufactured at the Royal Eijsbauts bell foundry in the Netherlands. The new instrument has 48 bells, encompassing the range of four octaves and weighing five tons in total.
Klaipėda townspeople heard the new carillon inaugurate during Christmas in 2006. Ever since it has become a tradition to listen to the carillon concerts every Saturday and Sunday, during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and to hear bells announce the Midsummer feast of St John. This year the latter event expanded to become the newly resumed Klaipėda Carillon Festival presented by the Klaipėda Concert Hall.
The programme of the festival consists of four concerts to take place during the longest day of the year. The toll of the carillon bells, played solo and in ensembles with other instruments and choral voices, will soar high above the city.
The festival will open with the “Midday Bells” concert, which starts at noon and features carilloneurs Kęstutis Kačinskas and Stanislovas Žilevičius. For more than a quarter of the century they have been loyal servants and promoters of this majestic instrument. In Kačinskas’s words, “the Klaipėda Carillon is a world-class instrument that the city and its people can be proud of.” This programme is made of works written specifically for carillon and arranged for this instrument by the performers. Žilevičius will also perform a selection of works with saxophonist Juozas Kuraitis who was born in Klaipėda and now rapidly ascends to the top ranks of the Lithuanian jazz scene.
At 3 pm carilloneur Monika Kaźmierczak from Poland will take over with the programme “Afternoon Bells”. She has garnered prizes at several international carillon competitions and given numerous performances in the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, United States and Lithuania. An active and enthusiastic carilloneur, she has initiated and participated in many collaborative projects. She is the city carilloneur of Gdansk and president of the Polish Guild of Carilloneurs; in addition, she currently teaches at the Gdansk Music Academy.
In Klaipėda she will appear solo and with the Klaipėda Brass Quintet (Vilmantas Bružas, Alius Maknavičius, Steponas Sugintas, Algirdas Ulteravičius, Jurgis Dargis). Among the pieces included in the programme are original works for brass quintet and carillon written by Belgian composer Geert D'hollander and Lithuanian Laurynas Vakaris Lopas.
At 6 pm the concert “Evening Bells” will feature the blend of tradition and innovation, carillon solo and in combination with the voice. It will represent the Lithuanian brand of carillon music in the performance of two famous carilloneurs from Kaunas – Giedrius Kuprevičius and Julius Vilnonis – and with the participation of the lucid soprano from Klaipėda, Rasa Ulteravičiūtė.
Giedrius Kuprevičius is regarded as one of the most experienced carilloneurs in Lithuania who started performing on the Kaunas Carillon in 1957 and became the chief city carilloneur in 1998. He is a musical erudite and has a remarkably versatile combination of talents as a composer, teacher, essayist and devoted custodian of the city’s musical traditions. Among other pieces at this concert, he will also perform his composition Blues-Carillon.
Julius Vilnonis, who is currently appointed conductor of the Kaunas Musical Theatre, has two favourite sidelines in bell music and jazz.
Rasa Ulteravičiūtė is a soloist of the Klaipėda Musical Theatre. As a matter of fact, she sang the title role in the musical Veronika by Kuprevičius.
The “Night Bells” (starting at 9 pm) will round off the programme of the Klaipėda Carillon Festival. Stanislovas Žilevičius will return to the carillon, while Giunter Percussion Ensemble will accompany with passion and suasion (Pavel Giunter, Tomas Kulikauskas, Sigitas Gailius, Almantas Puidokas) and the Klaipėda Choir Aukuras (artistic director Alfonsas Vildžiūnas) will join in the performance of works by Lithuanian composers Vaclovas Augustinas, Anatolijus Šenderovas and Linas Rimša. Some works will be also accompanied by the Klaipėda Brass Quintet and pianist Saulius Šiaučiulis.
The closing concert will be conducted by Vaclovas Augustinas. His incredible creativity helped him achieve prominence and recognition in the fields as diverse as composition, choral conducting (he is the artistic director of the Jauna Muzika Choir and frequent jurist at the national and international choral competitions), teaching (he is head of composition department and professor of composition at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) and rock music (he plays keyboards and creates music for the legendary Lithuanian rock group Antis). In recognition of all these achievements he was awarded the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize. “For me it was a grand and honourable distinction, but my life and values did not change after I received it,” said Augustinas in one of the interviews. This concert will feature the premiere of his new work You are so beautiful to me like the summer day.
“Bells ring in your towers, humble saints of the city gather in your squares, and my childhood wanders in the labyrinths of your backyards,” once wrote poet Algimantas Mackus. We invite everybody to the courtyard of the Klaipėda Clock Museum to enjoy a beautiful midsummer day and feel the refreshing, uniting and uplifting power of sounds. Let the bells of the Klaipėda Carillon ring!
More about the festival
Compiled by Loreta Narvilaitė