Justina Paltanavičiūtė, 2011 01 17

Scenes from the oratorio “Eternal Light”. Photos by Solveiga Vasiliauskaitė

In brief: The tragic events of the 13th of January and “Poetry” (1992) of Antanas Jasmantas (pseudonym of the philosopher Antanas Maceina) became an inspiration to the composer Giedrius Kuprevičius who created a poetical oratorio “Lux Aeterna” (“Eternal Light”) for the commemoration of the Day of Defenders of Freedom of Lithuania. The composition was ordered by Kaunas City Municipality and was presented in a theatrical way at Kaunas Sports Hall on the evening of the 13th of January.

The commercial success of the event was most probably determined by popular performers: the soloist Ona Kolobovaitė, Liudas Mikalauskas loved by Kaunas audience, Vilhelmas Čepinskis, Valerijus Ramoška, actor Egidijus Stancikas, author of the opus Giedrius Kuprevičius, who played the piano. Kaunas State Choir headed by Petras Bingelis and Kaunas Symphony Orchestra headed by Modestas Pitrėnas also participated. The director of the event was Gytis Padegimas, artist – Birutė Ukrinaitė, video artist – Simonas Glinskis.

Even though the author stated that he avoided pomp in the opus, he could not refuse it entirely. The genre of the work, poetical oratorio, prompts this feature, and the space of the performance was not very usual; therefore, it required a special solution. This time the hall was split into two parts: Kaunas State Choir and Kaunas Symphony Orchestra was placed on the bigger platform while the piano and the composer G.Kuprevičius occupied the small platform proudly.

“Eternal Light” had to reflect the Lithuanian identity in one or another way, as it was created for the Day of Defenders of Freedom of Lithuania. The choir and soloists were dressed in Lithuanian national clothes, intonations of folk songs could be heard in the music, especially vocal parts. Still, the entire opus did not have exceptional Lithuanian shade. It appeared to the author  of the review that the musical language and orchestral solutions were sometimes borrowed (or influenced) by French impressionists and American minimalists. Such associations were created by the music itself as well as the harp and glockenspiel, which were included into the symphony orchestra. These instruments added some eclectic shades to the Lithuanian features.

The oratorio was formed of ten parts which were joined with each other consecutively. Still, the beautiful melodies lacked dynamics, and it seemed that the climax was never reached. Special effects: snow falling on the sitting composer, smoke and fire were not conceptual and did not mark the pomp end of the opus - they were repeated rather randomly.

The very end of the oratorio appeared unexpected: views of nature shown in video installations were replaced by text, and the soloists and the composer encouraged everybody to stand up and sing along. This sounded as a chant in unison. Perhaps somebody was moved by the feeling of unity, while others could have sarcastic or ironic thoughts as though they sang a hymn of some distant country.

Anyway, the oratorio “Eternal Light” encouraged many people to take a thought about Lithuania, its freedom and people who died for it twenty years ago. One could see a bridge joining us, people to today, with old times in the entire theatrical staging. The imitated Lithuanian national costumes, offerings of priestesses, intonations of folk songs were joined with the present: composer G. Kuprevičius, author of texts A. Maceina, contemporary musical language, the performers, director and artists. Sounds of flugelhorn played by Valerijus Ramoška had most probably the biggest relation with eternity and light.

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