May 24, 2023

Seven World-Renowned Composers Created Unique Musical Pieces for Inspirational Locations Across Vilnius

Seven world-famous composers—Michael Gordon, Agata Zubel, Beat Furrer, and others—have created unique musical pieces for Music for Vilnius project held this May-July. A courtyard of a former Vilnius’ ghetto, Gediminas Castle Tower, Vilnius University, and other locations that have resonated with the composers are featured in the musical pieces. Compositions by Heiner Goebbels, Germany, and Toshio Hosokawa, Japan, that reflect Vilnius’ cultural, socio-environmental, and architectural sides have already captivated the spectators.

May 22, 2023. The 700th anniversary of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, will be offering numerous cultural highlights to the city’s residents and visitors. From art events to music festivals, Vilnius is catering to multiple tastes this year. One of the anniversary gems, Music for Vilnius, started on May 6th. 

The project invited seven world-renowned composers to draw inspiration from Vilnius’ streets, courtyards, buildings, and unique spaces. During the visits last year, each composer chose an urban object that resonated the most with them and created a 10-40 minute musical piece that varies from electronic solo to large ensemble composition specifically for it. The compositions convey the architectural, cultural, and socio-environmental features of Vilnius, and reflect on the city’s history and plans for the future.

Two out of seven composers’ creations have already been performed for the project. Toshio Hosokawa, one of Japan’s most renowned composers, was entranced by Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, and created a musical piece, Invisible Angels, for violin and accordion to celebrate it. LENsemble Vilnius performed his composition at the Church of St. Johns on May 6th-7th, enveloping the crowds in whispers, silences, and silent songs of the angels—the symbol which best represented Vilnius University for the composer. Hosokawa, who looks for inspiration in Western avant-garde art and traditional Japanese culture to produce his musical pieces, has received multiple awards, including the Japan Foundation award, and Goethe Medal for facilitating cultural exchange between Japan and Germany. 

Heiner Goebbels, a Grammy nominee and the legendary figure of the European theatre from Germany, created an audiovisual installation in collaboration with the video artist René Liebert for the Church of Saint Virgin Mary of Consolation, which was presented to the audiences on May 10th-14th. The composition was born through the yearning to explore the diversity of Vilnius’ churches. Goebbels has created internationally recognized compositions for ensemble and large orchestra, staged concerts, radio plays, sound and video installations, and has won prizes in Prix Italia, European Theatre Price, and International Ibsen Awards, among others.

Other compositions by Ivan Fedele (Italy), Anna Korshun (Ukraine), Agata Zubel (Poland), Beat Furrer (Austria), and Michael Gordon (U.S.) will be performed over the course of the following months. Among the chosen spots of inspiration for their compositions are Gediminas Castle Tower, one of the main symbols of Vilnius, Martynas Mažvydas National Library, a courtyard in a former Vilnius’ ghetto, and others.

Music for Vilnius invites Vilnius’ residents and guests to a journey full of sounds until July 6th.