www.kamane.lt, 2011-06-13

Justina Paltanavičiūtė

Pažaislis Festival. Photo from the archive of kamane.lt

In brief: Pažaislis Music Festival invited to listen to classical music at the beginning of the summer again. Following to the tradition, the opening concert of the festival was organised in Pažaislis Monastery with the participation of the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gintaras Rinkevičius on the 5th of June.

It has already become usual that the opening concert offers some noncommittal music related with the pop music world. Such is the concept of the festival – to attract the audience of different age and taste and to free out classical music from ceremonial chains. This year songs of Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand and the band Queen as well as compositions of Madonna and Lady Gaga resounded in the concert. Solo was sung by well-known performers: Rosita Čivilytė, Donatas Montvydas, Sasha Song and Vilija Pilibaitytė-Mia.

One will not find elements of classical music in this programme most probably, only the fact that the arrangements of popular music compositions were performed along with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir. Only one tiny bit of classical music could be heard during the evening: extracts from the symphonic suite of Rimantas Giedraitis “Farewell to Michael” based on motifs of M. Jackson's songs. All other compositions were pure pop, and the arrangements for the symphony orchestra sounded like an identical version of phonograms of songs, only performed by different instruments.

Did such programme appear classical to the festival organisers? Or perhaps they lacked fantasy as this programme was not special: one could hear it in the yard of Vilnius Picture Gallery on the 4th of June in the concert “Simply the Best”. The soloists performed their beloved songs with accompaniment of the orchestra in the programme.

Still, well-known songs did not reveal the originality of soloists. Surely, they did not dwarf vocal skills of the performers too. Unfortunately, the orchestra arrangements were plagiarised and lacked originality; also, some rhythmical disorders and misbalance among groups of instruments could be felt. The general sound quality of the concert was rather poor.

As a result, it seems that classical music recedes to the margins in Kaunas musical life. One of the few classical music festivals inviting listeners to unusual but traditional spaces is becoming too eclectic. According to the musicologist Lawrence Kramer, funeral lament sounds to classical music lately. One could state that it also sounded in Pažaislis Music Festival. However, we should not bury this genre of music: the festival offers other classical or at least academic music concerts throughout the summer, not to mention the fact that some of them have already been presented before.

Hopefully, representatives of the classical music world will take a thought about values of such music and lack of originality and that opuses of Lady Gaga will sound in places suitable for them rather than in monasteries.

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