Under the motto LIFE AND DEATH, the 30th anniversary edition of Banchetto Musicale will present selected various and intriguing programs by performers from Lithuania and abroad. The engagement with the subject of Life and Death was, from the Middle Ages up to the Baroque, more than a philosophical one. This engagement was omnipresent, marked by theological ideologies, by deep introspection, as well as by the preoccupation with right vs wrong, meaningful vs futile, eternal vs temporary. We witness a certain fascination with Death, and the slightly different dealings with it by artists and intellectuals belonging either to the Catholic or the Protestant faith – same with the subject of Life. Political affiliations and positions, whether as a governing majority as opposed to an oppressed, hidden, or oppositional minority, are playing also significant roles in the different dealings with such basic concepts as Life and Death. From the utter sensuality of the Catholic art up to the profound intellectual insight of the Protestant, we will witness a palette of bright and dark colours, spellbinding in their complexity and power.
The COVID-19 pandemic with its difficulties surrounding travels, safety measures, as well as constant changes of policy which affect all areas of organisation and planning of events have taken their toll on our festival as well. While the main theme of our festival was set since last year, some of the planned performances were impossible to have as planned or re-schedule. We will do everything in our power so that all below listed events will take part, and we wish to express our heartfelt thanks for the solidarity and help of our musicians and partners.
In light of these events, we are thrilled to open this year’s edition of the festival with ‘Dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus’, a programme about the mysteries of life and death, performed by ensemble JERYCHO. This performance replaces the programme originally planned – ‘Telemann’s Poland’, performed by the Orchestra of the Time of the Plague – which had to be cancelled at short notice by the musicians due to COVID-19 infection. On the opposite side of the pallet, an introspective journey awaits us in Nima Ben David’s recital “Life and Death”, a magnetic voyage into the melancholic essence of the music for solo viola da gamba. Tallin-based ensemble Floridante, featuring Andrew-Lawrence King, will charm the audience with a programme of English songs of the Renaissance and the Baroque “To see, to hear, to kiss, to die…”. Another planned performance following the main theme of Life and Death, “Actus tragicus”, with sacred works by J.S. Bach and G. P. Telemann is going to be postponed to a later date, due to the travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.
Our festival is launching for the first time the “Fringe Day”, which is aimed at supporting young talents. Two ensembles or soloists with programmes upon the theme “Life and Death” will be given the opportunity to perform for the festival audience. This event will be available via online streaming only. As another streaming event, our festival will show a 2016 Dramma per Musica festival production “Sognando la morte” with Anna Radziejewska (mezzo-soprano), Jacek Tyski (dance) and Royal Baroque Ensemble, dir. Lilianna Stawarz, replacing the real performance which we would have wished for.
Two concerts will take part following the tradition of honouring the historical heritage of our country: “Stella, quam viderant Magi” with madrigals and motets by Giovanni Battista Mosto, by Ensemble Morgaine and soloists, and “Chiara e lucente stella”, a harpsichord recital with music of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Alina Rotaru. Another solo harpsichord recital by Corina Marti, “Jan de Lublin Tablature”, will mark our celebration of the 500th anniversary of Sigismund Augustus and Barbara Radziwill.
“Sounds of Shylock’s Venice” with Italy-based ensemble Lucidarium will be our festival’s contribution to the Year of Vilna Gaon and of the history of Jews of Lithuania.
The field of education will be highlighted this year stronger than in the few previous years. Our festival is hosting the SIGISMUNDUS LAUXMIN International Harpsichord Contest, the first international harpsichord festival in the Baltic States, which will take part this year entirely online. Both rounds, the winner’s gala concert, and additional lectures about music sources of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth will be available via online streaming only.
This year, our festival will also host a singing masterclass on Gregorian chant melodies and their improvisation using fauxbourdon technique with Jean-Étienne Langianni. This masterclass will be crowned by a closing concert “Vespers for St. Hyacinth”.
A concert for children and families cannot miss in this year’s edition of our festival, and it will be offered by the young and talented Lithuanian group GŠ Ansamblis and The Table Theatre, with a program about St. Jacek and his miracles. GŠ Ansamblis will also perform together with Jean-Étienne Langianni in “Missa Dominica in albis”, a mass setting for the second Sunday of Easter.
The festival’s events will be taking place in Vilnius on September 8–27, 2020, at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, the Holy Cross House, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Consolation, the St. Francis of Assisi (Bernardine), and at the Church of the Holy Spirit.