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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

22 May 2017
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Culture & events sidebar

Painted music of Čiurlionis

- Posted by - (13) Comment

Text: Indrė Lauciutė

“I see the entire world as a symphony, people – as music…and the most beautiful melodies are the distant Druskininkai…The steps insensibly turn to the street with plenty of aged trees and old houses. I feel like stopping at one house and pondering, leaning against the gates…” (M.K.Čiurlionis)

Few people in the world know of our Lithuanian national painter and composer, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Even today 100 years after his death. Was he less good than other painters or composers of that time? Probably not. He was, most likely, better than most of them. But he was not the son of a rich country or community. No one was there to help, support and promote him when he needed them most. No one, but he didn’t care. The only task he took care of was creating. I start to believe that the main reason that makes the world to turn is the reason of the people who just follow their heart. Really!

M.K.Čiurlionis is one of them, one of the artists I found for myself and who makes me inspired. I used to think that M.K.Čiurlionis is just one of these “must know” personalities. And, in fact, everyone knows the name of M.K. Čiurlionis in Lithuania. His painting and musical prodigy is a national pride, but there’s a difference in knowing and understanding. I’ll explain. Knowing that Čiurlionis is credited to be the most famous Lithuanian artist that ever walked the earth is different than understanding why he’s credited to be like this.

Čiurlionis “Creation of the World” cycle 5 

Čiurlionis “Creation of the World” cycle 10

 

You don’t need to read about Čiurlionis to know him. It’s just better to look at his paintings or listen to his music. When I see Čiurlionis’ art, I feel like I'm in one of those surrealistic fantasy dreams I occasionally have. I could stare for hours at these paintings, especially at the one from the serious “Creation of the world”. This small world from the forest painted in velvet blue and bright cream white colours makes my mind to change. I see a symbol of faith, hope and sacrifice in it which sometimes is the last thing left to us. Čiurlionis is known for symbolism. All of his paintings take you to the fantastic land, cosmic journey, to the fairytale. It does not matter if it is the "The Zodiac" or "Sonata of the Summer", everything is out of this world that helps you to warm up inside.

Čiurlionis “Sonata of the Summer” – Finale

 

Čiurlionis “The Zodiac” – Sagittarius

To me, art is one of the ways to understand life. What comes out of M.K.Čiurlionis’ works is pure experience pasted together on canvas; a glimpse of what one sees and feels, a rumble of something behind and beyond the image. His mind is his instrument as much as his brush. It seams that he’s playing with vision, intuition, motion, stillness. He can see the canvas as a window through which he can play with reality. That’s extraordinary.

M.K.Čiurlionis is also praised for the ability to depict music in his paintings by giving musical elements a visual form and imitating the rhythm and other components of the music. His music is catchy. The early preludes of Čiurlionis are attractive because of sincereness, the pure melody, temperance, complete form. You can feel that the music is full of harmony, constructive logic goes along with the graceful imagination, improvisation. His music is not for every day. At least this is what I feel listening to his music. It’s special. Čiurlionis painted the series of paintings, some of them to express the cycle or triptych, prelude and fugue or sonatas, divided into allegros, andantes, scherzos and finales. There’s always difficulty to find words for describing the music but it’s for such evenings when you’re longing for something and don’t know for what.

He composed over 250 pieces of music and created some 300 paintings. Most of his works are now housed in M.K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas, but there are some that you can enjoy watching in a small museum in Druskininkai where the artist used to live. You can feel the authentic environment the artist was surrounded by at the end of the 19th Century. I’d like to go there.

Category : Culture & events sidebar

A world famous classical accordionist from Šiauliai

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Text: Algis Ratnikas

Martynas Levickis (20), Lithuanian born classical accordionist, arrived in the US in the summer of 2010 to compete at the International Accordion competition, July 21-25 in Santa Clara, Ca., an event sponsored by the Accordionists and Teachers Guild (ATG). This was the focus of his US tour that included performances in St. Louis, Chicago, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Santa Clara. There was already quite of a bit of a buzz regarding his talent and videos of his recent performances were already available on the Internet. A number of people later commented on the Santa Clara competition saying they were at wits end to figure out how the judges would be able to choose a winner from the extraordinary talent that was present. The local Bay Area Lithuanian community with the assistance of Esti Fernandez, ML’s US-based assistant for his 2010 tour, organized a local concert. It was held one day after Martynas won 2nd place and $3000 in the 3rd edition of the Anthony Galla-Rini International Competition for Classical Accordion. First prize and $5000 went to Gao Yi Cheng, a performer from China.

The Bay Area Sunday concert was held just hours before ML was scheduled to leave the area. Martynas displayed a level of talent and virtuosity on the accordion well beyond what anybody in the audience had ever witnessed. He presented the Partita from "Also sprach Zarathustra" by Sergei Berinski; Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor by J.S. Bach; “Fantasy’84” by Jurgen Ganzer; Sonata in D major by D.Scarlatti; “Flashing” by Arne Nordheim, a cadenza from the concerto for accordion ‘Spur’ and “Soliloque from Concert Suite” by Franck Angelis. Our local audience was enthralled. We had never seen or heard classical music played on the accordion with such brilliance and verve. One and all jumped to their feet in ovation. To top off the afternoon Martynas added three Lithuanian folk songs and his voice, which again brought the audience to its feet.

Martynas Levickis has been playing accordion since the age of 3 and started serious study at the age of 8. He studied at the Saulius Sondeckis Conservatoire in Siauliai (Lithuania), under the direction of Mrs. Maryte Markeviciene. At the age of 12, Martynas began participating in national and international accordion festivals and competitions. He has entered accordion festivals in Lithuania, Italy, France, Netherlands, the USA, Poland, Estonia and Belarus, winning awards in all of the competitions. In 2004, he was the first accordionist to be awarded Lithuanian Queen Morta prize. He was given an honorable mention and prizes by Lithuanian President and the head of Parliament. In 2005, he won the young artist scholarship presented by Siauliai city municipality. In 2006, the Siauliai authorities awarded him a new accordion for his achievements.

In 2008 Martynas entered the Royal Academy of Music. He has since performed in master classes with prof. Friedrich Lips, Prof. Matti Rantanen, Claudio Jacomucci, Nikolaj Sevriukov, Dr. Raimondas Sviackevičius and others. Martynas is currently studying his third year at the Royal Academy of Music in London under the direction of Prof. Owen Murray. In the summer 2009 he toured Chicago, St. Louis and Memphis where he won multiple first prizes at the 71st Annual American Accordionist Association festival. His composition “The Quiver” won 1st prize and established him as a composer. In June 2010, at the Kings Place in London he presented a piece “Double” (by composer E.Medeksaite) for accordion and electronics. Most recently, Martynas won the first prize in the well regarded world accordion competition “Coupe Mondiale 2010”, Piano-Accordion category in Croatia.

While in London Martynas continues to teach on Saturdays at a Music Academy for young pupils and to actively perform for the Lithuanian Community in London and for Music Halls, such us the Queen Elizabeth Music Hall.

On Jan 16, 2011, Martynas appeared on TV in the Lithuanian "Lietuvos Talentas" TV show (TV3) and won the grand finals with a cash prize of 10K Euros.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6vf6KeMFMA

Martynas is an active member of the Lithuanian Accordionists’ Association by establishing new ideas and creating better opportunities for young accordionists in the country.

The following links provide access to some videos of Martynas in performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj8ofoV65qI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNGLGUfwNQE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8XbDpbPk5A

For more information and to download Martynas on iTunes, please visit www.levickis.com

Category : Culture & events sidebar

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

Read more...
* * *


Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
* * *

* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

Read more...
* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

Read more...
* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

Read more...
* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

Read more...
* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,
PhD, CPC

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

Read more...
* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

Read more...
* * *
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