A group of young musicians brought together by Gintaras Rinkevičius in 1988 gave its first concert on the 30th of January of 1989. The orchestra, which entered the country’s cultural stage which brought a vital energy, original programs and impressive performance, was granted the name of the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. For its tenth anniversary on 30 January 1999 orchestra held its first concert in a new concert hall with a seating capacity of a thousand – the Vilnius Congress Concert Hall, which is the largest academic concert hall in the capital city.
The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra has already formed its traditions: the concerts given on its birthday, the beginning and end of the seasons have become great events not only for the orchestra but also impressive symphony music evenings for all the listeners. The performances are warmly met by the public and critics alike. Every season the orchestra performs new compositions which cause a great stir: the most outstanding world music, large vocal-symphonic compositions and instrumental concertos. It has played many premieres of music by Lithuanian composers. The performance of all Mahler’s and Beethoven’s symphonies has become an exceptional event in the orchestra’s musical life.
The orchestra’s intensive life is testified by an impressive number of concerts given. It has held more than 1,000 concerts in Lithuania and abroad: France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Taiwan and elsewhere, It has participated in such prestigious festivals as the Warsaw Autumn, Europamusicale in Munich, Germany, the Costa do Estoril Festival in Portugal, Santa Cruz and Santandero in Spain, Nyon in Switzerland, Chichester and Leads in Great Britain. Many world-famous musicians often perform with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra: M. Salminen, V. Urmana, S. Larin, V. Tretyakov, D. Geringas, D. Sitkovetsky, M. Shostakovich, B. Maisuradze, A. Vedernikov, N. Petrow, R. Gothoni, R. Muraro and P. Donohoe.
An impressive list of ten operas (most of them in concert versions) has been added to the orchestra’s repertoire of symphonic music. It includes Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (1995, a concert version at the National Opera) and Parsifal (2004, a national premiere), R. Strauss’s Salome (1997, a concert version at the National Opera), Puccini’s Tosca (1996) and Turandot (1999), Verdi’s Othello” and Simon Boccanegra (2001), Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (2005), a concert performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (2006), Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (2006), and a partly concert performance of Juzeliūnas’ opera Žaidimas (The Play, 2007). During the last years the orchestra has performed more and more concert versions of operas in a non-traditional space – the Vilnius Congress Concert Hall. The year 2003 saw the first concert version of an opera, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Later followed Puccini’s La Boheme (2006), Mozart’s The Magic Flute (2007) and Massenet’s Werther (2008) staged in collaboration with the director Dalia Ibelhauptaitė and costume designer Juozas Statkevičius. Besides, the production of Pagliacci was renewed in 2008. At the beginning of 2009 the first musical in Lithuania was produced – Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra’s musical activities are also documented in a number of recordings: M. K. Čiurlionis’ symphonic poems In the Forest and The Sea (1991), six CDs of popular symphonic music (1995), a CD of the Portuguese fado singer N. da C. Pereira (1995), works by the American composer M. Kupferman (1996) and compositions by Egberto Gismonti (1997). A special CD for the tenth anniversary of the orchestra (1999) was also released, as well as a record with the National award winners Irena Milkevičiūtė and Vladimiras Prudnikovas (2000), Mahler’s Symphony No 5 (1993), Das Lied von der Erde (2002) and Symphony No 2 (2003). Also a CD of the French pianist R. Muraro (2001), works of Sheila Silver (2002), Beethoven’s Missa solemnis (2003), Verdi’s Othello (2003) and a CD of Vytautas Juozapaitis solo performance of classical music (2005) have been released. A concert version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the seventeenth anniversary of the orchestra was released in 2006. For the first time in the history of Lithuanian symphony orchestras, the State Symphony Orchestra undertook the recording of all works by Mahler. Six collections of CDs have already been released (2005, 2006 and 2007). Two piano concertos by Rachmaninov in collaboration with the pianists Petras and Lukas Geniušas and the conductors Julius Geniušas and Vytautas Lukočius is the orchestra’ latest CD released.
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