A quarter of million spectators watched the events of the European Capital of Culture in January

More than a month passed since the day Vilnius and Linz (Austria) became the European Capitals of Culture. Ten projects of culture and art were organised in Vilnius during the first month of the year of the European Capital of Culture that attracted some 250,000 spectators.

“The first events of programme Vilnius – European Capital of Culture held in January revealed the diverse taste of Vilnius public – both contemporary art projects and classical projects of various forms attracted huge crowds of spectators. We hope that with the express of concerts, exhibitions, performances and other projects gaining momentum we will have more visitors from Lithuania as well as abroad,” says Elona Bajorinienė, the Director of Public Establishment Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009.

The New Year`s celebrations had the record number of spectators

The year of Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009 and the celebration of the Millennium of Lithuania’s Name started with events that were held during the New Year`s Eve and the night of January 1 and that opened these two programmes, viz. musical @Hoffmann_Spragtukas and the light performance of Gert Hof. Approximately 200,000 residents and guests of Lithuania watched them in downtown Vilnius, and that was the record number of spectators in the history of cultural events taking place in our country.

In January, more than 20,000 spectators admired the shows held in the open-air skating arena in the City Hall Square, viz. the Ice Mystery with the best Lithuanian ice dancing couple Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas shown on January 1, as well as ice theatre plays and performances of the most promising Lithuanian skaters given each weekend. The ice of the open-air arena in the City Hall Square was also tested by approximately 8,000 residents and guests of Vilnius.

The Georgian art genius captivated Vilnius

The New Year`s performances as well as performances held in the ice arena in the City Hall Square were free for spectators. However, the lovers of culture and art also flocked to events for which you had to pay a fee.

It has been quite some time since the staff of Vilnius Picture Gallery saw so many visitors as in January of this year: since January 2 more than 9,000 people (including 400 from abroad) have admired the collection of 35 paintings of Georgian art genius Pirosmani. The exhibition of Pirosmani`s paintings open in Vilnius until the end of May is visited by about 200 people on a working day and more than 500 on a day off.

On January 16, exhibition Code share: 4 continents, 10 biennales, 20 artists was opened in the Contemporary Art Centre. The exhibition is unique as far as the geography is concerned – alongside the year-long special attention to European culture, this project seeks to introduce the art and culture of Africa, America, Asia and Australia to the residents and guests of Vilnius. Fifteen artists from all over the world participated at the opening of the exhibition. More than 1,000 people visited the exhibition on the opening night at the Contemporary Art Centre; another 1,500 lovers of contemporary art participated in the Code share by the end of the month.

Project ARTscape/MENOrama, which started in the middle of January and which presents art, jazz and cinema of twelve European capitals of culture, opened under the flag of Finland. It is Helsinki that became the first European capital of culture of the 21st century. The exhibition of Finnish artists Aurora Reinhard and Eemil Karila about invisible or ignored phenomena opened on January 15 in Gallery Vartai. The exhibition (open until January 20) has already been visited by 600 visitors.

More than 300 cinema connoisseurs watched films by Finnish filmmakers presented during the Finnish Cinema Programme in Skalvija Film Centre. The introduction to Finland will be crowned with the performance given by one of the most prominent jazz personalities of Finland, viz. saxophonist and composer Miko Innanen and his group Innkvisitio.

European stage masters in Vilnius

The homage to Jascha Heifetz, the Vilnius-born worldwide genius of violin, was paid by project Hommage a Heifetz held in January; the goal of this project was to show multicultural traditions of Vilnius, to get to know artists of various nationalities who lived in Lithuania and their works and to introduce them to residents and guests of Vilnius. On January 9, the residents and guests of Vilnius enjoyed the European Concert held in the National Philharmonic Hall during which the winners and laureates of the most famous European competitions performed a special programme together with the orchestra. And on January 13, orchestra Kremerata Baltica performed on the stage of the National Philharmonic Hall; the audience was the first to hear the 2009 European Tour programme of the orchestra spiced with compositions by composers of various nationalities who lived in Vilnius or originated from Lithuania. More than 60 performers performed on stage to the audience of some 800 lovers of violin music.

The month of January saw the first tour of the legendary Parisian theatre Comédie-Française in Lithuania; the theatre introduced the audience to plays staged by the oldest and the sole state theatre of France as well as to French theatrical traditions. Two plays of Comédie-Française, viz. Les Précieuses ridicules by Moliére and La Festa by Spiro Scimone, were shown on stage of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre on January 29 and 30. Some 2,000 spectators saw the plays.

Sculptures and old handicrafts invite visitors

In January, as part of the visual arts programme, Bi-level appeared on the Neris embankment near the White Bridge in Vilnius. It is a granite sculpture by one of the most prominent Lithuanian sculptors Mindaugas Navakas reminding us of archaic structures and emphasising the specific character of the architectural landscape of Vilnius. Bi-level invites to directly experience the impact of primeval shapes – by entering the sculpture and by going around it; therefore, the exact number of visitors can be “told” only by the sculpture itself.

Project Vilnius Heritage of Handicrafts aiming at the revival of old handicrafts traditions started on the last day of January; the project will include 12 educational events in the city and a two-day St. Bartholomew Fair. The members and spectators of the Convention of the Tanner Mead Fraternity were the first to remember traditions. This convention is historically considered as the roots of Vilnius handicraft shops. The event will include educational sessions on crafts, the activities and characteristic features of craft fraternities, the demonstration of coinage, and the first stage in brewing the mead. The spirits of old handicrafts of Vilnius inspired more than 400 spectators to come.

Creative public campaign Haiku to Vilnius continued in January. All creative people were invited to create Japanese triplets dedicated to Vilnius. The organisers received another 400 triplets; the total of 16,000 haiku were received during the campaign.

For more information contact:

Albertas Barauskas
Press Officer
Public Establishment Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009
Tel. 8 5 211 2099
Mob. 8 698 31 341
[email protected]



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