After last year’s success, the town of Birzhai and the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union (LMU) agreed to join forces once again with the V. Jakubenas Music School to organize the 3rd annual Creative Education Chamber Music Camp “Muzikuokime drauge” (Let’s Play Music Together) in Birzhai. Thanks to the invitation of Professor Petras Kunca, Board member of the association, the ECMTA was also closely associated with the realization of the project. With the strong support of Mrs Irute VERZIENE, Mayor of Birzhai and in the presence of Mr Aleksandras ZELTINIS, member of the Lithuanian Parliament, the session was an even greater success than last year. Led by Professor Kunca, Audronė Žigaitytė-Nekrošienė, President of the LMU, and Rima Zuoziene, Director of the Jakubenas School, the camp has now expanded to include students and teachers from more schools in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia: 24 student ensembles participated, from duos to a 15-member string ensemble, with a great many local students and teachers involved. In all, over 80 students participated, mostly between the ages of 8 and 20, many of them accompanied by their teachers. Repertoire included arrangements of popular pieces and children’s works as well as standard masterpieces, and every concert programme was filled with variety of instrumentation, style, age and level of participants. The spirit of the camp was clearly an excellent balance between ability, careful preparation, and inclusiveness.
Along with masterclasses, rehearsals, and a student concert in the grand hall of the beautifully restored Birzhai Palace, new features included a Brass Quintet concert at the Town Hall, a final concert in the exquisite lakeside Reformed Evangelical Church, performances by Professors Kunca and Melbarde, a theoretical and pedagogical conference for teachers, and a magical reception at the offices of the REC. The broadening of activities to include more locations allowed participants to appreciate both the natural beauty Birzhai’s surroundings and the many restoration projects which are preserving the architectural heritage of the city.
All agreed that the ease and confidence with which all the ensembles performed, as well as their impressive open-mindedness and enthusiasm to learn with various teachers, were a sign of their solid, positive learning foundation, a great tribute to the excellent pedagogical skill of chamber music teaching in this part of the world. Exchanges of ideas between teachers in the masterclasses, and some dynamic collaborative teaching were also an indication of the overall spirit of the camp, warmly encouraged by its director Petras Kunca.
Masterclass teachers included, along with Professor Petras Kunca (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius) and ECMTA Chairman Dr Evan Rothstein (Guildhall School of Music & Drama): Gunta Melbarde (J. Medins Music School No. 1, Riga), Antanas Ladyga (M.K. Ciurlionis Music High School, Vilnius), Kadri Leivategija (H. Eller Music High School, Tartu), Ramute Kalnenaite (M.K. Ciurlionis Music High School, Vilnius).
Conference presentations were given by
- Remigijus Vitkauskas (Lithuanian University of Education): “Music information technologies”
- Evan Rothstein: “Chamber music instruction in general music education in England”
- Gunta Melbarde: “The new pedagogical initiatives of the Latvian foundation We Play Music with Friends
- Kadri Leivategija: “Artistic development question supplementing non formal and formal education in Estonian Schools”
- Petras Kunca: “Psychology of ensemble music pedagogy”