3 July 2008

Premier performance of a difficult piece by Valentina Zigiene

Children and youth musicians from the Aukstaitijos county came to Ramygalos School (catering for Advanced Music level) for five days of intensive rehearsals in a music workshop. A choir from Great Britain "One Voice", led by a former local Panevezys teacher Grazina Ellis, joined them. More than 200 people were involved with the project.

The Panevezys District Music School, within the county of Aukstaitija, organise an annual festival "Sounds of Youth". Each year the organisers seek new forms of musical expression. This year, being the sixth, a single
piece - "Mass of the Children" written by the English composer John Rutter was chosen.

Two performances were made: the first in the "Christ the King" Cathedral in Panevezys and the second in
"St.John the Baptist" Church in Ramygala. The full programme included two symphonic pieces i.e. Intermezzo
(P. Mascagni) and Adagio (T.Albinoni) followed by the premier performance in Lithuania of "Mass of the Children".

There were two soloists from the Lithuania Music Academy in Vilnius, Milda Tubelyte (Soprano) and Audrius Martisius (Baritone) who were joined by the Panevezys District Music School Youth Choir, the J. Balcikonio School Mixed Choir and the guest choir from England "One Voice".

To assist with the cost of the music sheets, Grazina and her students held a charity concert. The Director of Music and conductor Kestutis Planciunas explained that with modern musical expression, parts of the "Mass" piece had tricky rhymes that student performers had real difficulties with. The choirs had more time to rehearse whereas the orchestra, because of the hiring costs, had only 2 months. The young orchestra musicians worked hard to learn their parts. "In my opinion we had a good result with such a short period for rehearsal. The audiences listened to the highly original John Rutter music with great interest".

Taught Lithuanian Songs

The English choir enjoyed their stay in Lithuania. The choir consisted mainly of students from Weymouth College in Dorset. Also singing with the choir was the Colleges International Students Co-ordinator Liz Evans who spoke to the Lithuanian students about the possibilities of studying at Weymouth College. Students under 18 years old could study the English Language for one year with EU finance.

A few years ago, our former musician Grazina went to further her studies at Weymouth College through Bournemouth University. She completed a 2 year foundation degree course in Arts - Music Media and Performance. In our town she taught at the Panevezys Music Conservatory and sang in the famous Panevezys Municipality Chamber Ensemble "Muzika". At present she leads a choir and works as a vocal coach at Weymouth College and directs a community choir "One Voice".

Grazina could be called an ambassador for Lithuanian music in Dorset. Last year she taught a group of English singers to sing Lithuanian songs and play Lithuanian pan pipes (Skuduciai) in a performance at a childrens festival in rural Dorset.

Grazina is excited at the possibility of an orchestra from Panevezys visiting Weymouth College in 2010.

English translation of an article published in Panevezys (Lithuania) local daily newspaper 'SEKUNDE' on 3rd July 2008.
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