Seven Renowned Composers Enhance Vilnius’ 700th Anniversary Celebration

Seven Renowned Composers Enhance Vilnius' 700th Anniversary Celebration

Music for Vilnius is one of the significant highlights of the historic city’s 2023 cultural calendar. Last year, the city invited seven leading international composers, including Michael Gordon, Agata Zubel, and Beat Furrer, and asked them to create unique musical compositions inspired by what they experienced, to be performed during the 700th anniversary of Vilnius.

For the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, numerous cultural highlights have been devised for residents and visitors to experience in 2023. The city wants to cater for all tastes in this special anniversary year, creating a diverse calendar of events and performances, with one of the highlights being Music for Vilnius, which began on May 6th.

Heiner Goebbels riding an electric scooted in the city

About Music for Vilnius
It is a cultural project that invited seven world-renowned composers to Vilnius to find inspiration from its streets, courtyards, buildings, and unique spaces.

Last year, each composer visited the historical city and chose an urban object that resonated the most with them. What they experienced inspired each to create a 10-40 minute musical piece that varies from electronic solo to large ensemble composition specifically for it.

The unique musical compositions convey Vilnius’s architectural, cultural, and socio-environmental features and reflect on the city’s history and plans for the future.

Two out of seven musical compositions have already been performed. Toshio Hosokawa, one of Japan’s most renowned composers, was entranced by Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, and created a musical piece, Invisible Angels, for violin and accordion to celebrate it.

Hosokawa's composition being performed in a church

LENsemble Vilnius performed his composition at the Church of St. Johns on May 6th-7th, enveloping the crowds in whispers, silences, and silent songs of the angels—the symbol which best represented Vilnius University for the composer.

Hosokawa during his visit to the city

Hosokawa, who seeks inspiration from Western avant-garde art and traditional Japanese culture to produce his musical pieces, has received multiple awards, including the Japan Foundation award and Goethe Medal for facilitating cultural exchange between Japan and Germany.

Heiner Goebbels, a Grammy nominee and the legendary figure of the European theatre from Germany, created an audiovisual installation in collaboration with the video artist René Liebert for the Church of Saint Virgin Mary of Consolation, which was presented to the audiences on May 10th-14th.

Heiner Goebbels composition being performed by an orchestra

The composition was born through the yearning to explore the diversity of Vilnius’ churches. Goebbels has created internationally recognised compositions for ensembles and large orchestras, staged concerts, radio plays, and sound and video installations and has won prizes in Prix Italia, European Theatre Price, and International Ibsen Awards, among others.

Other compositions by Ivan Fedele (Italy), Anna Korshun (Ukraine), Agata Zubel (Poland), Beat Furrer (Austria), and Michael Gordon (U.S.) will be performed between now and July.

Among the chosen spots of inspiration for their compositions are Gediminas Castle Tower, one of the main symbols of Vilnius, Martynas Mažvydas National Library, a courtyard in a former Vilnius ghetto, and others.

Music for Vilnius invites Vilnius’ residents and guests to a journey full of sounds until July 6th.

Read more travel and cultural news and guides here.

Photography courtesy of Tomas Tereka, Go Vilnius and Saulius Ziura.

People celebrating with food and drink in one of the city parksSeven Renowned Composers Enhance Vilnius' 700th Anniversary Celebration 2

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