MY DEAREST 2010 SONG FESTIVAL DIRECTORS AND REPRESENTATIVES
Our American friends are chasing turkeys, roasting nuts, buying pumpkins and preparing for Thanksgiving on November 25. Canadians finished eating their Thanksgiving (October 11) leftovers some time ago and now we Torontonians are watching (I certainly am) the falling leaves and eyeing the squirrels’ furry coats, which would do a fine job of warming our shivering bones. Just now a chubby black squirrel, standing on its hind legs, was peering through my glass doors. It seemed to sense what I had in mind, and scampered off into the bushes. I suppose I’ll have to find a rabbit…or a raccoon…
As I look out into my garden, I’m finally accepting that summer is long gone and only the memories remain. My memories of you are etched deeply into my heart. It’s such a pity that this continent is so broad, and that Lithuania is across the ocean. We draw together for a moment, begin enjoying ourselves, getting to know and love each other, and then disperse with barely enough time to say “goodbye”.
On October 11, I gave thanks for a number of things. From the moment that the 2010 Song Festival was announced in Chicago, you stood with us, cheered us on, wished us strength and supported us for four years. There would have been no Festival without your confidence in us, and without your hard work. How mighty we are together!
Until now I haven’t been able to gather my thoughts to say goodbye as the 2010 Festival’s artistic director. I was still caught up in worrying about Perkūnas travelling across the sky, a female conductor having a wardrobe malfunction; Aras Puodžiūnas’s voice changing; Benotienė’s owls hatching; the conductors’ enthusiastic gestures levitating them from the platform; one of the kids swallowing a glowstick; and especially the men in the back row (apparently they had a table with a white tablecloth, Lithuanian rye bread, bacon, and of course, “skaidrioji”) getting their timing right. They were amazing! The first notes of “O atsimenu namelį “ rang out, and a sea of white handkerchiefs unfolded in the audience.
Our young conductors charmed not only the female choristers, but the entire audience. The new conductors earned the loudest applause. BRAVO TO ALL THE CONDUCTORS!
Of course, without EACH ONE OF YOU, dear DIRECTORS, and without your HARD WORK, even the female conductors’ tight dresses wouldn’t have won over our wonderful audience. Your well-disciplined choristers (they deserve a HUGE “THANK YOU”) were well-prepared and sang their hearts out for two days. All of us—the performers (including the directors, singers, dancers and other participants) and the audience—were able to unite our deepest emotions and take pleasure in being alive, being together and holding our song in our hearts. At the top of my voice: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
And so, goodbye.
Now I’ll be off to find some squirrels, as it’s getting chilly. Before I do that, I’m flying to sunny California for another Thanksgiving dinner (healthy organic turkey and nut cake) next to an ocean sunset. I’ll be thanking God for having given me the opportunity to be with you at the ninth Song Festival, and praying that you’ll continue your work, keep singing, and that we’ll meet again at the tenth Festival.
Today we Canadians have something to be very excited about, as our future king got engaged yesterday. Hmm, where are my white gloves? Surely the Queen will be inviting me to the wedding!?? Between squirrels’ tails, white gloves and turkeys, I’ll have lots to do. Klioriene, perhaps this could inspire a new song?Loving you, Dalia
Before coming to Toronto, please download your Song Festival Info Sheet
TO OUR WONDERFUL IX SONG FESTIVAL CHOIR DIRECTORS AND REPS!
Congratulations on making it this far! The final chords are fading, the scolding and praising is over, and all that’s left to do is to pack your suitcases and be on your way to TORONTO! (I don’t recommend travel by camel; it will take a long time and they’re not very comfortable…) Don’t worry if you forget something at home; we have everything you might need.
As you know, last weekend our city hosted the G20 Summit. As expected, the usual troublemakers did their thing, but the good news is that today the sun is shining, Starbucks has reopened and we’re waiting for you with open arms and hearts and songs. Fabulous teams of volunteers have worked their hardest to prepare a wonderful weekend for your enjoyment. Fun is guaranteed, but we can’t be held responsible for the weather. A few drops of rain won’t dampen our singing.
One last time: drive safely, be patient at Immigration. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the IX Song Festival!My final letter from the salt mines… Love, Dalia
Parents who will be driving their children to the rehearsal at the Hershey Centre should bring them inside and leave them in the care of their chaperones. We’re asking that there be no listeners in the concert hall on Saturday. Leave your friends, aunts, uncles, girlfriends, boyfriends and psychoanalysts at home, or at the hotel. We’ll be working intensively and would prefer to impress you during the concert on Sunday, so any non-performers will be politely requested to wait outside on the sunny pavement!
Wow, you’re going to look fabulous! Check out the photos here.
Ladies: bring two brooches! Remember, the bigger the better. Amber and brass really sparkle under the stage lighting. We have three variations of how the shawls will be draped, and during Saturday’s rehearsal we’ll let you know which will be worn by your section of the choir.
And…long hair looks best when put up and we can see your pretty faces; from a distance we’ll all look young and gorgeous. Don’t forget to make up your cheeks and eyes.
Men: don’t worry about your figure, because we’ll be looking at your handsome faces and broad shoulders. Your shirts will be loose-fitting and worn untucked. You’ll impress the audience.
Of course, as you always do when performing, everyone should bring along a couple of safety pins because you know that someone will need them…
I still have to write my seat assignment in my song book: section, row and seat number. If I don’t, I’ll be too distracted to remember them when I see how amazing you all look.
I’ll pack a couple of pencils too because at least one of the conductors will say something very important during the rehearsal and I’ll have to remember that for the concert.
The Hershey Centre prohibits bringing in your own food and drinks. Their snack bars sell water and we’re going to provide a very tasty lunch.
I heard that our Queen (yes, we Canadians have a Queen) will be in Canada this weekend, but she’s not invited to the Festival because you have me! I’m waiting for you!
That’s it for today, but don’t be disappointed, you’ll hear from me again soon.Dalia
Rūta Rusinienė and I have finished “seating” everyone and in few days you’ll receive the placement list for your choristers. Please organize them in advance, let them know where they will be located. I recommend that everyone writes their section number, row and seat in their songbooks. That will help us avoid wasting time finding our seats during the rehearsal. When we (my choirs) sing with others, I always mix them up rather than keeping them together. (Yes, some of us are frequently “mixed up” but that’s not what we’re talking about here!) This results in the best possible combination of voices and promotes focussed teamwork that produces wonderful results.
I’m following that principle here. You’ll find that each of your choristers has been assigned a place where he or she will be content and able to sing from the heart. We did our best; in the event of any errors, we ask that you, the choir directors, devise your own solutions. Every minute of the rehearsal is critical, so it’s essential that we work together to ensure that it goes smoothly.
I have two rehearsals left. This week we’ll be working on remembering and elegantly shaping the phrasing and dynamics for the best possible expression of each song’s meaning. I hope that by now we all know what those meaning are!
Fourteen days left, and my friend Benotienė tells me to buy some makeup. One of the parishioners called out to me loudly last Sunday: “Ah, Dalia, I was reading an article about the Festival and saw that they had used a photo of you when you were young!” I didn’t want to frighten him, but that photo was very recent. So, to avoid frightening all of you, I’ll be shopping for that makeup this weekend, after I get your seating lists sent out.
Please, please: be careful, don’t break an arm or leg and avoid uncooked meat because the Song Festival is just around the corner and we all have to be healthy and strong. We’ll sing, be happy and dance! Now, where are those ballet slippers…?Dalia
We’re very sorry to inform you that we’ll be unable to keep our promise to deliver your concert wear in advance. The boxes were packed and taken to the post office, where we discovered that the export tax was steeper than expected. Not only that, but those of you living outside of Canada would have also have to pay a duty upon receipt. It was decided not to support our governments with the money that was so challenging to collect! Please accept our apologies and our thanks for your understanding. Everything will be waiting for you when you arrive.Dalia-with-increasing-blood-pressure-but-still-in-a-good-mood!
HELLO, MY FRIENDS!
Just a quick note before I pack for my trip to Ottawa and Montreal, where I’ll be rehearsing with our wonderful and hard-working Canadians. They’re counting down the days until the Festival, just as you are. There’s not much time left to listen to the recordings, attend rehearsals, listen to the recordings, order tickets, listen to the recordings, order our choir t-shirts for Saturday’s rehearsal, listen to the recordings, try on our (those of us who are a bit “mature”) skirts and pants to see if they still fit, listen to the recordings and listen some more!!
Darius and his assistants have finished recording all of the songs, except for the six that we’ll be singing with the audience. Please, please: provide CDs for your choristers. Our songs are our gifts to each other; let’s be generous and then we’ll all be able to enjoy and be proud of our work!
The Festival concert conductors have been selected and will be announced in my next email. Everyone was delighted to accept, but one decided to break her arm, hoping that I’d have mercy on her. Unfortunately, that’s not happening and she’ll have to heal as quickly as possible. Of course, conducting with a broken arm isn’t news to Torontonians. In Lithuania in1994, our much-loved Jonas Govėdas broke his arm just before the Festival; he took it in stride and conducted with his cast.
Dear choir leaders, I’m sure there’s no truth to the rumours that some of you haven’t even begun to rehearse certain songs because you don’t like them. Are you testing me? If so, please know that I’m convinced that we’re all very conscientious and committed to fulfilling our responsibilities as we prepare for the Festival. My favourite moments during rehearsals come when I hear the amazing progress that has been made. I believe that you all share those feelings.
LET’S LISTEN TO THE RECORDINGS, SING, REHEARSE AND GET READY FOR TORONTO!
To make learning the songs more interesting and meaningful, Nijolė Benotienė—before her injury—shared her interpretation of two of them: EI, JOVAR, JOVAR! and LIAUDIES DAINA (available in Lithuanian only at this time.) Thank you, Nijole. We’re looking forward to more.
PS. PLEASE, don’t delay learning the six songs we’ll be singing with the audience (Saulutė tekėjo, Palankėj, 1,000 žingsnelių, Eisim, broleliai namo, Stoviu aš parimus and Žemėj Lietuvos)—they’re very important. Rita Kliorienė has harmonized them beautifully, and has promised many more if we do a good job on these. Forward!!!Dalia-from-the-mines-where-the-gold-is-in-sight!
It’s finally sunny again in Toronto, tulips are popping up and birds are chirping very early in the morning. The ice has melted and skating season is over.
However, we don’t have much time to think about all of that, because we’re PREPARING FOR YOU! Meeting, planning, discussing, and doing everything we can to create the Song Festival we all want: a spectacle of sounds, sights, and joy. Rehearsals are in full swing, and the energy is amazing. I expect that everyone has rolled up their sleeves and is listening to the recordings, learning and singing.
There are no “easy” songs. They’re all beautiful and equally important to learn. Do not leave any to the last minute. We have to know the entire repertoire very well so that we can communicate our joy of singing.
KEEP CHECKING THE WEBSITE! Use it to keep up to date with new developments. Additional song recordings were uploaded last week. Thanks to Darius, Rima, Kristina and Saulius, as well as to our “Andriukas”, who’s doing an amazing job on the website along with Dalia Peddle.
We’re all very VERY PROUD of Liudas Landsbergis and Saulius Kliorys, who have planned a weekend of song for our youth choirs at Camp Dainava on May 28-30.
If your choir has a CD that you’d like to sell during the Festival, please contact me and I will send you the necessary information.
Nijolė Benotienė and her colleagues are busy writing various articles about all of us. Thanks to everyone for your cooperation in answering their questions. There can never be enough photos; please send them to Nijole and also for posting to the website. Share your efforts and your love of singing with the world.
The CONCERT WEAR has been ordered. We appreciate the prompt return of your order forms.
You will be standing by voice during the concert. We’ve already begun drawing up the “map”. Be sure to let me know IMMEDIATELY if there is any change in your list of singers.
We have close to 200 volunteers preparing to welcome you, to love you. There is a fabulous and creative concert team, and it’s essential for you to understand the vision at the core of the program in order to give 100% during the performance. Please read Nijolės Benotienės articles on the Lithuanian site: SIMBOLIAI… and PRIE ŠVENTO AUKURO…
Enough! Time to sing, and to start breaking in my new shoes so that I won’t be distracted by sore feet during the Festival. GYVENKIM SU DAINA because there aren’t many days left and lots of work to be done before we see each other. Thank you for your encouragement, which keeps us going.Until next time, Dalia
(Now where did I put that CD with the concert songs…? )
GREETINGS FROM SUNNY TORONTO TO MY SONG FESTIVAL FRIENDS!
We Canadians are very proud of our Olympic gold medals. Having watched the races and competitions, I’ve decided to take up figure skating. Before I shop for skates and sign up for lessons, I have some INFORMATION for you.
Please read carefully and be sure to meet all deadlines.
The concert wear committee consists of Ramunė Stravinskaitė, Ramunė Stravinskienė and Jūra Landry. The order forms have already been sent out to the children’s choirs, and the men’s order forms will be sent out shortly. Order forms will not be required for the women, as we will order shawls (wraps) for you. There will be a single order placed for ALL the items, so if you miss the deadline you’ll be out of luck. In that case, you’ll be clapping, rather than singing.
WOMEN in the youth and adult choirs will wear their own black blouses or dressy t-shirts, black slacks (not jeans) or long black skirts, and black (or dark) shoes (not running shoes), and provide their own amber or brass brooches for the linen shawls (wraps?) that we will supply.
MEN will wear black pants (not jeans) and black shoes (not running shoes). We will order your linen shirts and sashes.
We’ll look fabulous! Check out the sample photos!!
Darius Polikaitis and his talented singers continue to work hard, recording our songs. Be sure to check the website at least a couple of times every week for new postings. During rehearsals it becomes very obvious who has been practicing with the recordings. They’re developing as choristers and are happy with their performance. And that makes me happy too! (But I’m still going to buy those skates.)
By the way, I have some good news: we’re patting each other on the back because we can now finish NEBUVO TAI ŽEMĖ without a break, and without complaining afterwards. The recordings are excellent and, after listening to them every single day between now and the concert, we’ll amaze the entire village! So, everyone: courage and perseverance!
The CHILDREN will sing without songbooks! Our kids are very capable and the books are a distraction. My choristers have memorized almost all of the songs from the website. Their parents tell me that even they’ve learned the repertoire because their kids have been singing along with the recordings at home.
ADULTS AND YOUTHS will be singing the national anthems and VIEŠPATIES PASAULIS from memory, and the other songs with the songbooks. Of course, by July 4 we’ll have everything memorized too.
During the performance, our expert photographers, Daina and Romas Puteris, will produce a visual display on several huge screens to show everyone who we are and how we live. Daina and Romas are asking every choir to submit at least 3 photos to email@example.com by March 25. One should show your city’s most famous landmark, the others ─scenes from your Lithuanian community’s events.
It will be fun to see our own and our friends’ smiling faces, but also to show each other where we live, what we do, what we enjoy.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your patience! For checking (at least 50 times by now) the lists, for the encouragement, the photos I “talk” to when I need to focus, the 150 daily visits to the website, the hotel reservations (we own the Marriott), and for your trust.
Three choirs are coming from Lithuania, one from Punsk and one from London, England ─ how exciting!!
Enough for today. I’m off shopping for my skates. (I don’t understand why one of my tenors suggested yesterday that I’d be better suited to being a goalie on a hockey team and should forget the figure skating…)
BE HAPPY AND SING, EVERYONE!Yours, Dalia-from-the-salt-mines
WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?
I wish you all the best in 2010 as we shift into high gear with renewed enthusiasm for our work. Of course, every turn of a new calendar page brings new anxieties because there is still so much to be done in the coming months. When my heart starts pounding and my hair stands on end, I remember that I’m not travelling down this path of song for only myself, and I’m not travelling alone. I draw comfort and energy from all of you – directors, representatives, singers. You are very dear to me and I’m looking forward to seeing you on July 2.
In Toronto the beehive is buzzing with preparations to welcome 1,000 choristers and many, many listeners. Singers: stay healthy, attend every rehearsal, and practice singing everywhere – at home or in your car – with the excellent recordings provided. Choir directors: inspire, lead and teach your singers. Representatives: support your directors by meeting all the administrative deadlines. Everyone planning to be part of the audience: keep adding those coins to your piggy banks and get ready to join us and experience the beauty of song. Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto!
OUR SEMINAR AT DAINAVA IS OVER, BUT IN MY THOUGHTS AND IN MY HEART, “I AM THE SONG”!
I am very grateful to Rita Klorienė, who designed such a splendid and rich seminar program. Also, my appreciation goes to Aušrinė Širvinskienė, who decorated our surroundings with musical symbols, adapting interesting rituals and uniting us as a singing family.
My thanks to Rusnė Kasputienė and her crew, who didn’t let us go hungry, thirsty, or to lose any weight despite our hard work, and to “Miss Fun,” Kristina Kliorytė, who so aptly described each participant’s contribution and rewarded him or her with just the right gift.
Frank Bianchi, director of the Cleveland Symphony’s Youth Choir, filled our “goody bags” with engaging ideas, professional advice and humour.
Our indispensable accompanist, Ričardas Sokas, transformed the piano into a full orchestra. Because we were so engaged, we didn’t realize the sun was setting even though we started practicing at 9 o’clock in the mornings.
Petras Aglinskas delighted us with his masterful playing and touched our hearts with his guitar strings in the “Cabaret.” Surrounded by beautiful music and friendship, we felt thankful to be together.
Together we “read” the 2010 Festival’s repertoire and became acquainted with the intricacy of the notes and songs, and convinced that no choir at the Festival will have a chance to get bored: we’ll be moving and singing from the heart, the way we did on the August 20-23 weekend at Dainava.
We left the Seminar inspired to work hard, and motivated by the understanding that our work and values are determined not by the towns or countries we live in, but by the people who share our ideals and love of music. As we sang in the final song, “it is not the place, but the person, who captivates our hearts”. Let’s all live the next 10 months in song.
I send my best wishes, I thank you, and I wish you great success!Yours, Dalia Viskontienė
DEAR PARTICIPANTS OF THE NINTH LITHUANIAN SONG FESTIVAL SEMINAR
Heartfelt thanks to each of you for your sincere collaboration, cooperation and friendship, which allowed us to get through a very rigorous schedule. It once again became apparent how much can be accomplished when we come together and contribute our unique talents towards a common purpose. Every one of you, from conductor to accompanist, from singer to jokester, to those who offered their kind words and quiet support just by being there, was an important piece of the beautiful mosaic we created together. How beautiful it was, how truly greater the whole was than the sum of it parts, and how different it would have been had any one of its pieces been missing. And so I say thank you to each of you for your whole-hearted participation in the seminar program.
Thanks to Rusnė Kasputis and the wonderful chefs, Regina Greenhalch and Milita Buruchinaall. All of you kept our tummies from growling and made sure that we had plenty of energy to conquer the 38-song repertoire! This is not to mention the wine and snacks you provided, which allowed us to unwind after a hard day.
Speaking of relaxing, wasn’t our very own “Dainava cabaret” and guest guitarist, Petras Aglinskas a super way to end the day? A warm thank you to you, Petrai.
A big thanks to Aušrinė Širvinskienė for the beautiful poster, which welcomed us as we entered the hall, provided the backdrop at our rehearsal sessions, and created much excitement for the upcoming festival. Thanks for the song, which we continue to create together. Thanks, too, for the fabulous “ice-breaker” activities you organized for our first evening, which helped us meet new faces and rekindle old friendships.
Thanks to SUPER-ACCOMPANIST, Ričardas Sokas. How simple you made our jobs as conductors. How easy it was to lead the group when you offered such strong support while eyeing every nuance.
I am certain I speak for all of us when I say the seminar would not nearly have been the same without Frank Bianchi: what an inspiration he was to us all. Frank, from all of us, a most sincere Lithuanian AČIŪ! You are remarkable.
And Kristina Klioryte, aka Miss Fun – you were… FUN! Witty, quick, never allowing us to get too serious. Thank you, my child.
I am thrilled knowing that our upcoming preparations for the Ninth Lithuanian Song Festival will afford us many opportunities to work closely together.
As I reread this letter, I come across many superlatives. I’m just not sure I’ve written enough of them! And so, let me take the opportunity to thank you once again for the fantastic atmosphere you created. It was so good to have been able to spend several days together and bask in the goodness and warmth, which emanated from you.
I hope that you will keep sharing the spark you put in your hearts as the seminar came to a close, and keep the fire going…
DAINA AŠ GYVENU!With respect and heartfelt wishes, Rita Kliorienė