Kaunas “Summer Stage”: bold statements by the Ukrainian group FO SHO

Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 is organising an empowering and spirit-lifting party for Ukraine day on June 11th. On that day, the “Summer stage” will be filled with powerful music and deep connection provided by the Ukrainian music bands TONKA and FO SHO. Members of FO SHO are vivid truth seekers. Their hip-hop and RnB style mixes with political and social topics. For the upcoming event, we interviewed the unique Ukrainian trio.

How did you come up with the idea of creating a band?

We are real sisters. We were always singing together and harmonising all our life. We knew that we had a huge age difference. I was older, and we will never be able to form a band. At some point, we took a selfie picture and understood that we looked like a band. I was writing a lot of songs, and I showed her a track called “xtra”, and she fell in love with it. And I said, “let’s do the song together”. And she said, “really?”. So, that’s how our first track came out.

Your songs are very empowering and energetic. Where does that power come from? What is the main message you are sending through the music?

It’s the fact that every person has their unique side, craft, you name it. And that makes every person stand out. And as soon as you find your craft, you are extra. And by the time you are born, and you have a life, you’re son or daughter or parent, you are a human being - you are extra. And everybody has their own background and their own shape, and everything makes us stand out somehow. So, if you think that you have some imperfections, it actually becomes perfect and makes you interesting and extra. We are trying to empower and give people the energy and remind that they are unique and beautiful. Each and every one of us. We also grew up in unique surroundings ,– we were black girls in a Slavic world, and we had our own struggles. In every country, people can find their own stories and be inspired by them if they look from the other side. Not from the negative but from the positive side.

Few days ago you were performing in Forbes Under 30 Summit. You were rapping in the Ukrainian language. Some would say it’s impossible. How did you come up with rapping in your language? Is it new or common in Ukraine?

It’s a new way. It’s a new way because hip-hop hasn’t been popular in Ukraine at all. Ukraine is a Slavic country, and here, in Russia, in Belarus, in other countries like that, they are more into balladic music. So now hip-hop has become interesting nowadays. It’s a challenge. It’s something new. Some say it’s impossible, but we can make it possible. We accepted the challenge. We love our language, and we are exploring it. We are now writing in the Ukrainian language because it is vital to support the culture, especially in these hard times.

Your band performs in international concerts. Isn’t the Ukrainian language a barrier to understanding what you are singing about?

First of all, music is a universal language. Sometimes we like songs without understanding the language, but you can appreciate the beauty of the music. Secondly, the Ukrainian language is a challenge. And not everybody will understand it, but everybody will be able to see the beauty and how this language tastes. It’s a new flavour, and it’s awesome. In order to make the message more digestible, we wrote our first singles in English mostly, because we had something important to say and we wanted the world to understand it. We also wrote a couple of songs in Ukrainian language. During the war we released a song called “U CRY NOW” and it’s both English and Ukrainian.

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, do you think culture, for example, music, can be the right tool to fight in this war? 

Yes, absolutely. Culturally music is a tool to say our truth and speak the truth. Also, we are using our pages on Instagram and Facebook to spread the truth about Ukrainians. And you know, we believe that every craft or business can be used to create peace between nations.

How does your band work? Do you write your songs and music yourselves?

In the beginning, I (Betty) used to write the songs that we recorded. And now Siona is in the process and writing together with me. We are our own producers. We understand what we want. We work with arrangers but we usually lead in the production process. Siona is a professional piano player, Miriyam is a professional violin player, we use these crafts in our music creating process too. We all are working for the same purpose.

What is your purpose as a band?

Our segment is hip hop and r&b. Hip-hop was always about the meaning, the statement you want to talk about. So, we are always about the meaning. If you check our song “BLCK SQR” - we are exposing the truth about Ukrainian artist Kazimir Malevich that Russian propaganda says that he’s a Russian artist. Meanwhile, he’s a Polish-Ukrainian artist born in Kyiv. We also talk about the fact it is a very weird world we live in. We have a lot of money for the covid, for war, for nuclear power, for bombs, but would we have enough money for those who die from hunger? Like, really, in Africa, Asia, many places. We have a lot of good things that we want to talk about. Political stuff. We are optimistic, but we are also about the truth and exposing the meaning that would help our society and earth become better.

Some say: don’t mix politics and culture or politics and sport. You are a perfect example that you must do it. But is it easy/difficult for you to reach that goal? Can music be taken seriously in this kind of topic?

Absolutely. During the war, musicians come to soldiers, and they sing and lift the spirit. Music has a huge influence on everyone. Whether you like it or not, it can switch your mood: make you sad or happy. We think that it’s a big thing and it has an impact on emotions. Sometimes people would like just to have fun: listen to music and dance not thinking about serious matters and that is also okay, but we also should not forget that music is a tool for a good change and that through music we can trigger people's mind to think about some useful topics. We think that right now, music has become so much about meaningless stuff, we want a change, and the change starts with us. There are people creating music with a meaning like Kendrick Lamar or Tyler The Creator, but they are few, so we are part of this minority in music field, that tries to talk the truth and make people consider other things and trigger their minds to think about some meaningful stuff. But we can also have fun. We are not always serious; we know how to have fun. So, we are creating balance.

You are coming to Kaunas “Summer stage” to perform for the Ukraine day we are going to celebrate in Lithuania. How do you celebrate it in Ukraine? Maybe you can share some insides for us?

Cultural food, like “Borscht”, “Palianytsia”. For example, whenever you meet someone for the first time, for the welcoming, we bring big bread that’s called “Palianytsia” and we bring salt, that’s how we welcome our guests. There's also salo, as jewish we don’t eat it because it's a pork meal but Ukrainians eat it. Of course, we sing Ukrainian songs, and we will teach you to sing them. We wear traditional Ukrainian clothes - Vyshyvanka. We also make a crown from different wildflowers like dandelions and cornflowers. Their colours represent the Ukrainian flag.

What greetings to Kaunas do you have?

We are super grateful for the support. It means a lot. You know, it’s like a brotherhood. Because first of all, we are all humans. We get a life in this world and become citizens of a country. We are all kids, and we are all human beings. And thanks to you for standing behind the truth and love. It’s a big thing, and it’s a blessing. We can’t wait to meet you.

Slava Ukraini!

Gerojam Slava!

Partner of the project: “Švyturys Non-Alcoholic”. Friends of the project - Ukrainian Institute.

For the complete Kaunas 2022 programme, please visit www.kaunas2022.eu or the mobile app.

Programme for June events: contemporary festivals and unique experiences

June is going to be the busiest month of the European Capital of Culture year. This month will start and end with festivals that will bring optimism and action to the hearts of the residents of the city and its guests. The action in the rivers will not end after the “Confluence” weekend: the cultural ship “Nemuno 7” will delight with the exhibitions, and discussions of the National Expedition will take place near the river. Perhaps rivers have become one of the routes on the path to the art objects in the Kaunas district? Culture will awaken the courtyards of the city and the contemporary elderships. The music will play on the Summer Stage, and the choirs and jazz will be heard around. There will be no bad weather for culture - the summer of culture begins!

Music Programme of “Optimismo”

OPTIMISMO is a festival that looks back at the industrial past and is full of modern experimental and electronic music. Just as the creators of modernist architecture, defined by political, social, economic and cultural optimism, the creators of contemporary music, presented by OPTIMISMO, dare to experiment with technology and stand out with their virtuosity, non-traditional structure of their works and new creative methods.

When: June 3-5
Where: Industrial and cultural modernist buildings in Kaunas
Organizers: Creative teams of “Digital Tsunami” and “Ghia”.

Robert Magro’s “Visions”

The theatre play “Visions” is a dedication of the Italian contemporary circus director Roberto Magro to Vytautas Mačernis and M.K. Čiurlionis. The play analyzes human’s desire to create and be surrounded by art. The director decided to interpret Vytautas Mačernis’ “Visions” and, with the help of contemporary circus, dance, theatre and music, to reveal the metaphors and symbols hidden in the poet’s work by supplementing them with local stories.

When: May 31 – June 4
Where: The forest of Paštuva
Director: Roberto Magro. Scenography: Paolo Primon, Davide Visintini. Creative team: Džiugas Kunsmanas, Agnietė Lisičkinaitė, Eugenijus Slavinskas, Motiejus Bazaras, Liam Carmody, Pauline Camille Talon.

Tickets are available: here

Culture to the courtyards: Eiguliai, Dainava, Šančiai

“Culture to the courtyards” is back! So, take your seats in the VIP lounges on your balconies or make yourselves comfortable in your own courtyards. In June, professionals of various arts - theatre, dance, contemporary circus, and music - will perform in the courtyards of the apartment buildings of Eiguliai, Dainava and Šančiai. Courtyards filled with culture will delight active courtyard communities that collaborate and join “Fluxus Labas” initiatives.

The schedule of the programme of culture in the Courtyards for June:
June 9–11 – Eiguliai. June 14–16 – Dainava. June 20–22 – Šančiai.
Organizers: “Kaunas 2022”

Admission to the event is free

Festivals in neighbourhoods

Residents of neighbourhoods of Kaunas, in cooperation with art creators and using local stories, each created a festival for 2022. On June 11 in Eiguliai, there will be a musical route “Sounding Walls”, where participants will be greeted by wall drawings and music that reflect the community’s identity. On June 18, the action will continue in Dainava. As mid-summer approaches, the community of Dainava neighbourhood will invite you to the event “Midsummer Magic” in Draugystės Park, which will take you from everyday life to the times when people would draw strength from a harmonious relationship with nature and old customs. The programme of Šančiai Festival “Come as You Are” will take over the programme for St. John’s Day. The initiatives developed in Šančiai for four years: performance, opera, stories, and excursions which will merge into a joint two-day festival in Šančiai. The programme also includes a meal in an authentic restaurant “Kastytis”.

Schedule of festivals in the neighbourhoods:
June 11 – Eiguliai. June 18 – Dainava. June 23-24 d. – Šančiai. Dates and times are subject to change. Organizers: “Kaunas 2022” and neighbourhood communities

Admission to the events is free

“Kaunas Cantat – Kaunas Sings” International Choir Music Festival

Kaunas will be flooded with the sounds of choral music - the tenth international choir festival “Kaunas Cantat”, will be held in the city. Well-known bands from Lithuania and abroad will appear at the anniversary event. The German sextet “Singer Pur” will be among the festival guests performing at the event, and two children’s choirs from Ukraine will join the festival. Among the memorable concerts in the churches and at the Kaunas city fountains, the audience will be invited to sing together during the entire festival.

When: June 09-12
Where: Kaunas
Organizers: Public body “Lithuania Cantat” VšĮ
Admission to the events is free, except for the opening concert at the Great Hall of Vytautas Magnus University on June 9 at 20:00.

Tickets to the opening concert here.

“Contemporary Elderships”: Ežerėlis, Kulautuva, Raudondvaris

The alternate reality of Ežerėlis audio guide will introduce you to the imaginary local reality. On June 9, a photography exhibition (curator Vaida Virbickaitė) will open its doors at the newly established community gallery. The Kulautuva community is organizing a theatre music performance that will tell the story of the place on June 11. Finally, on June 17, the Raudondvaris community invites you to dive into an impressive time travelling – a theatre night trip.

Admission to the events of “Contemporary Elderships” is free.

The programme: is here

Opening the Emerald Road

Look for emeralds in Kaunas district. Emeralds are new artistic objects found in unexpected places. 8 objects were turned into emeralds of by the artists: Tadas Černiauskas Tadao (Neveronys), Vytautas Viržbickas (Čekiškė), Donatas Jankauskas Duonis (Piliuona), Kotryna Čalkaitė (Daugėliškiai), Tadas Vosylius (Bubiai), Mindaugas Lukošaitis (Vandžiogala), Kotryna Čalkaitė (Užliedžiai), Donatas Bielkauskas-Donis (Mastaičiai). Visit the opening of the Emerald Road on June 10 in Alšėnai and Neveronys.

When: From June 10.
Where: Kaunas District

Admission is free

Documentary performance “TAXIS. Attempts to travel distances”

The performance experiment in moving cars tells us about the changing everyday life of taxi drivers. During the performance, nine taxi cars with taxi drivers telling their stories will appear on the streets of Kaunas. Spectators-passengers will have an opportunity to get acquainted with the different daily lives of taxi drivers, the city’s nightlife, the passengers they meet and the stories that took place inside and outside the taxis.

When: June 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, at 19:00
Where: A. Juozapavičiaus pr. 31G
Organizers: Art agency “Artscape” VšĮ

Tickets are available: here

Kaunas 2022 Jazz Stops

The legendary “Kaunas Jazz” presents Kaunas 2022 Jazz Stops - four jazz stops of Lithuanian and European cities in the centre of Kaunas and Vilkija. The most talented jazz creators from Lithuania, Norway, Hungary, Estonia, Luxembourg and Ukraine will perform here. Together with the jazz operators of Dudelange (LU) and Novi Sad (XS), the organizers of the event invite you to a unique project “jazzXchange” at one of the jazz stops. This is a specially created joint work and will be presented to Dudelange and Novi Sad audience later this year.

When: June 18-19
Where: Kaunas (Laisvės Bld. and the Independence Square) and Kaunas District (the amphitheatre of Vilkija berth)

The admission to the event is free

National expedition with Edmundas Jakilaitis

For seven years, the project “National Expedition” travelled by the rivers across Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, Poland, the old estates of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Central Europe. In the middle of June, the expedition will moor in Kaunas for five discussions about the city on the most interesting issues. The city’s residents and guests will be invited to participate in the discussions together with the most famous Lithuanian historians, academics, cultural and art experts. The panels are moderated by Edmundas Jakilaitis / Robertas Petrauskas.

When: June 17, 18, 19
Where: Amphitheatre of Kaunas Castle

Contemporary City Festival “Audra”

A “Storm” is coming. Over a few days, you will see the whole future of Kaunas! Contemporary art installations and electronic, experimental and acoustic music will move into the city's industrial spaces. The Festival of the Modern City “The Audra” is an event that reflects the lifestyle, culture and values of young people, creating a curious community through experience and bold discussions. You will not be able to remain a passive observer at the festival!

When: June 26 – July 3
Where: Kaunas
Organizers: International Association of Art Creators “Freimas”, “Kaunas 2022”, youth organization public body “Kylantis Kaunas” VšĮ.

Exhibition “Memory / Future” by an artist group “Konsortium” (Germany)

Kaunas has an impressive number of modernist buildings. However, the unique history of the city and the international cultural cooperation that once took place here is still inspiring today. A group of artists-curators, “Konsortium” (DE) has invited over fifty artists worldwide to create a collaborative collective sculpture dedicated to this historical period in Kaunas.

When: May 27 – July 1
Where: Gimnazijos g. 4, Kaunas
The admission to the event is free

“Summer Stage” of Kaunas 2022

Throughout the warm season, the heart of Kaunas Old Town - the Town Hall Square - will beat with the rhythm of culture. The most memorable performances, concerts, tastings and meetings will delight the spectators and the audience at the Summer Stage of “Kaunas 2022”. From May to September, you will be offered carefully prepared artistic programme weekends and hundreds of free events with the best Lithuanian and foreign music performers. In the repertoire in June: Golden Parazyth (LT), Kaunas National Drama Theatre performance “Empty Chair”, Fo Sho (UA), “Girių Dvasios” (LT), “Akli” (LT) and at least ten other performances.

When: from May 9.
Where: Kaunas Town Hall Square
Organizers: “Kaunas 2022” and partners

Admission to the events is free

Summer Stage programme: here

Summer full of culture

During the summer, it will be possible to visit the cultural ship “Nemuno7” by the river or participate in the initiatives of the organizers of “Upynė”. The brass quintet will create a (con)Temporary Music Train, spreading the word about Kaunas on the train route Kaunas–Białystok–Warsaw–Berlin–Esch –Schengen–Brussels. “Kaunas Gospel & Worship Festival” will set up a tent town with concerts by Lithuanian and foreign Gospel choirs and worship groups, film screenings, seminars, creative workshops, and children's programme. And the International Summer School of Modernism “Modernism for the Future”, organized for the fourth year, will introduce you to the treasures of Kaunas architecture and allow you to gain a unique experience of the city as a studio.

Having broken through the wall earlier, an exhibition filled with rebellion, “1972. Breaking Through the Wall” is open at Kaunas Central Post Office. After climbing the Owl Hill, visit the exhibition “Kaunas-Vilnius: Overthrowing the Mountains”, and then, during an hour’s trip, complete your experience with the exhibition at the MO Museum (or vice versa). Finally, refresh the collective memory at the Yoko Ono’s installation “Ex It”, William Kentridge’s “That Which We Do Not Remember” and Marina Abramović’s “Memory of Being”.

The European Capital of Culture programme in Kaunas and the Kaunas region continues throughout the year, with hundreds of traditional and debut events planned for 2022, including exhibitions, festivals, performances and other activities created by local and international artists and Kaunas communities. For the complete Kaunas 2022 programme, please visit www.kaunas2022.eu or the mobile app.

Transform4Europe Culture Festival: From Art Projects to Centennial Marathon

Workshops on creative writing, photography, filmmaking, art, and dance led by arts and culture professionals, as well as learning about other cultures through interaction – these are just some of the activities of the first Transform4Europe Culture Festival. This year, they have gathered several hundred guests from partner universities of the Transform4Europe Alliance, which unites seven universities, to Kaunas, the European Capital of Culture 2022.

Prof. Ineta Dabašinskienė, the VMU Transform4Europe Institutional Coordinator, shared her delight in the Festival’s success: "It is so gratifying that the first meeting of the Alliance, after a long period of limited communication due to the pandemic, convened us to enjoy the student event. Their interest and involvement in creative activities pleasantly surprised the organizers. Students from various programs – from computer science, genetics, and engineering to law and philology – met for the first time to produce a joint art project. We were fascinated by their performance, and the students were excited about the unexpected opportunity to reveal their talents." This initiative is expected to be a good start for the universities in the Alliance to continue their creative projects.

The Transform4Europe Culture Festival has brought together not only the academic community, but also residents and guests of Kaunas. An event on the VMU Agriculture Academy campus attracted many visitors with dances and songs, inviting them to learn languages and learn about cultures over brunch.

During the festival, for one evening, the VMU Multifunctional Center for Research and Studies turned into a hive of modern culture. Accompanied by live music, the spaces of the building were filled with videos and portrait photographs created by students, sensitive poetic collages, drawings and paintings on the walls, and a modern dance performance.

European students also celebrated the centennial of VMU by participating in a marathon event dedicated to the university's centennial. The participants' acquaintance with Kaunas was enriched by the opportunity to join the events organized by the European Capital of Culture. The next event of the T4EU Culture Festival will take place in Poland.

Festival movie: https://youtu.be/uCrCi1Ajt28

Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage in June - Contemporary Ukrainian Artists and a Dedication to Jonas Mekas

In May, the Old Town of Kaunas, the European Capital of Culture, welcomed the high-sounding news of the warm season - the Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage. Every weekend until autumn, concerts and performing arts performances by the most exciting and up-to-date Lithuanian and foreign artists will take place in the heart of the city, on the Town Hall Square. In June alone, 17 events are planned, from an international choir festival concert to guests from Ukraine, Armenia and New York.

Contemporary genre fusion and sound experiments

The first weekend of June will be opened on Thursday with a remarkable fusion of two worlds of music. ‘The Night in the Dream-York Re:shaped’ by electronic music producer Deividas Jaroška and the Twenty Fingers Duo, Lora Kmieliauskaitė (violin) and Arnas Kmieliauskas (cello), promises a cinematographic experience. In this performance, scheduled for 2 June, sound meets dance, computer, and analogue electronic instruments curb the sonic details of acoustic instruments and the virtuosity of the instrumentalists. The result is a new reflection on the relationship between electronic and acoustic music and ritual dances and visualisations.

On 3 June, a special concert of the prodigy Golden Parazyth, who started his career in Kaunas and transformed from a one-man orchestra into a full-scale band, awaits. The project’s new album ‘Empatijos’, is both a gift and a wish for Kaunas. It is music about the world as seen through the empathic eyes of Golden Parazyth.

On Saturday, the National Kaunas Drama Theatre and the Raudondvaris Manor Arts Incubator will present a performance ‘Empty Chair’ dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Juozas Naujalis, one of the most famous figures in the history of Lithuanian music. Director Agnius Jankevičius found the key to the story of this extraordinary man and interwove the actual facts of his biography with fantasies, creating a musical collage story. The performance reveals Juozas Naujalis as a unique educator - the Lithuanian choir he created for street children became a bridge to the first Song Festival in Kaunas in 1924.

The first weekend of June will be rounded off with a sound experiment music workshop on the summer stage, presented on Sunday afternoon by the community projects programme ‘Saugi pradžia’.

Jazz, choir music, and friends from Ukraine

On 9 June, Jazz Academy, a music school in Šilainiai, invites everyone to Town Hall Square to hear a concert by future jazz stars. The original compositions of the Academy’s Lithuanian Youth Jazz Orchestra combine elements of atonality, dissonance and imitation. The works are full of spontaneous deviations, gushing energy and impetuosity. The collective’s concert will be kicked off by a discussion.

Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage will host a special welcome from the traditional international choir festival Kaunas Cantat, which joined the European Capital of Culture programme on 10 June this year. The girls’ choir Vognyk from Kyiv, Ukraine, will perform for Kaunas residents and guests. This group promotes Ukrainian contemporary choral music and presents it outside the country in various European cities.

On Saturday, 11 June, the Ethiopian-Ukrainian sister hip-hop trio Fo Sho and the indietronica project Tonka from Kyiv will perform on stage during Ukraine Day.

Another international highlight of the second summer weekend is on 12 June. On Sunday, a trio from Armenia, led by New York-trained pianist and composer Vanagh Hayrapetyan, will fill Kaunas Old Town with jazz. The programme includes his own compositions, Armenian traditional music and works by ethnomusicology legend Komitas.

Olympic spirit in Kaunas

On 18 June, The traditional Olympic Day, which attracts thousands of sports enthusiasts each summer in Lithuania, returns to Kaunas. Sports activities and other entertainment will take place throughout the day in the newly renovated Santaka Park. In the evening, the ambassador of the European Capital of Culture, Linas Adomaitis will take over Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage. Meetings of the National Expedition will also take place in City Hall Square on that weekend. On 16 June, the evening will be hosted by the mathematical rock band jautì, who recently released songs with singers Monika Liu and Monique.

Midsummer weekend - a dedication to Mekas and post-folklore mood 

2022 is the year of Jonas Mekas not only in Lithuania but also in the world, where the legacy of this Lithuanian artist is highly appreciated. On 22 June, a  live soundtrack to Mekas’ 1966 short film ‘Mysteries’ will be performed in Kaunas.

Jonas Mekas filmed a play ‘Frankenstein’ at the 1966 Cassis Festival in France, organised by the film director Jerome Hill. Jonas Mekas did not like the result and did not release the film. However, he did like one segment of the play, ‘Mysteries’. The only sound that could be heard on film was the sound of the actors’ feet. In May 2000, Philip Glass, John Gibson and Howie Statland created an improvised soundtrack for this play segment and performed it live at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, founded by Jonas Mekas.

Kenny Wollesen, Tony Scherr, Jonathon Haffner and Dalius Naujokaitis, members of the New York-based group Himalayas, are coming to Kaunas to provide the 2022 version of the soundtrack for Mysteries. The group will be joined by Eugenijus Varkulevičius-Varkalis, a Kaunas-based artist who has worked with Mekas, William Shore (USA) and Giuseppe Zevola (Italy) for an exclusive performance in the European Capital of Culture.

On the shortest night of the year, the sounds of post-folk music will weave across the Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage. Some of the most exciting projects of this genre in Lithuania - Driezhas and Girių Dvasios - will perform here. Driezhas collective will present an ethnic-electro, synth-pop, ambient programme combining sharp electro-acoustic sounds and soft acoustic lines. Girių Dvasios, or Evaldas Azbukauskas, will create a dub techno lake inspired by Lithuanian forests and Baltic culture.

On 24 June, fans of one of the most interesting musical projects in Lithuania, Akli, will flock to the Town Hall Square. The post-punk/industrial music project from Kaunas, formed while the world was in the grip of a pandemic, was twice nominated as the best band of the year at the M.A.M.A. music awards. All have already played at major events in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They will be joined on stage by the dark alternative and post-punk atmospheric collective Katarsis, whose music is full of experiments and musical explorations.

On the last Saturday of the month, Kaunas-based electronic music producer Palmės Žiedas invites contemporary music lovers to swap the traditional fern blossom plaids for something more exotic. He has just released his third solo album ‘Elektroninė Muzika’, which is about the distant future.

The Colombian electric violin player Diego Esteban will wrap up the month of the Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage on Sunday, 26 June. His music reflects a mix of classical music with electronic beats and dubstep influences. His Latin roots also make a part of his repertoire, which can be mellow and romantic and make you dance and jump. During his time in Lithuania, Diego Esteban has collaborated with Lithuanian producer Vitalijus Saxton and pop singer Justinas Stanislovaitis and other musicians. On 26 June, Justinas will join Diego on stage, and they will be accompanied by a drummer and a guest violinist.

All Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage events are free of charge. Concerts and other shows at Kaunas Town Hall Square are scheduled until autumn. 

The European Capital of Culture programme in Kaunas and the Kaunas region continues throughout the year, with hundreds of traditional and debut events planned for 2022, including exhibitions, festivals, performances and other activities created by local and international artists and Kaunas communities. For the complete Kaunas 2022 programme, please visit www.kaunas2022.eu or the mobile app. 

Midori Takada will premiere her work made of traditional Lithuanian polyphonic music

From 29 June to 3 July, Kaunas will be hit by „Audra“ („the Storm"), a five-day music and art festival in the city's spaces. The nightclub Lizdas, together with the youth of Kaunas city and Kaunas European Capital of Culture 2022 team, is organizing a huge programme of events, which will be scattered around the city's most spectacular urban spots.

One of the festival's most important guests is Japanese percussionist and composer Midori Takada, considered one of the world's pioneers of ambient and minimal music. The premiere of "Silence Birds", a collaborative project between her and several ensembles, will take place in the Grand Hall of the VDU, inspired by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Midori Takada has already visited Lithuania three decades ago, just after the regaining state's independence.

The concert in Kaunas on 30 June is one of the most anticipated and important performances of the Audra Festival. Midori Takada, one of the pioneers of ambient and minimal musical and an icon of modern Japanese music, will present a work that she has been preparing for several months together with local sutartinės (polyphonic Lithuanian traditional songs) ensembles Gaudė and Devynragė.

Each time a new and unique piece is dedicated to the country the artist is visiting. Every live performance of Midori Takada is unique and prepared especially for that occasion. In Kaunas, she will be performing "Silence Birds", a piece that has never been heard before and which was born quite recently and not by chance. Midori Takada composed it with the crimes of Russian aggression in Ukraine in mind. The bird is a symbol of freedom for the Japanese artist, whose songs and sounds she will recreate with the help of traditional Lithuanian and Japanese sutartines. Why the sutartinės? Lithuania and Japan are the only countries where this style of polyphonic singing is still alive.

Midori Takada is a true luminary in the world of ambient and experimental music, playing solo, in various groups and theatre productions. In the 1980s and 1990s, Takada devoted her craft to traditional African and Asian percussion with great success, culminating in her classic album "Through The Looking Glass", which was reissued in 2017. Considered a Holy Grail of Japanese music by many, "Through The Looking Glass" is Midori Takada’s first solo endeavor, a captivating four-song suite capturing her deep quests into traditional African and Asian percussive language and exploring contemplative ambient sounds with admirably precise use of marimba. The result is alternatively ethereal and vibrant, always precise and mesmerizing, and makes for an atmospheric masterpiece and an unparalleled sonic and spiritual experience.

Midori Takada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnYSIDwu3TA

She debuted on the scene of Berlin Philharmonic, performing with the RIAS Symphonie-Orchester Berlin just after graduating from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1974. She continued her career with solo concerts in Japan and abroad.

In the 1980s Midori began to explore the traditional music of Asia and Africa. Her fascination resulted in joint projects with Kakraba Lobi from Ghana, Lamine Konte from Senegal, Farafina Band from Burkina Faso, and Korean musicians: zither player Chi Seong-Ja, flute player Won-Il, and saxophone player Kang Tae-Hwan. She also led Mkwaju Ensemble's innovative percussion project and still performs with free-jazz band Ton-Klami with Kang Tae-Hwan and jazz pianist Masahiko Satoh.

In the past 20 years, Midori Takada spent more time in theaters than in concert halls – composing and performing live music for theater. She regularly works with Tadashi Suzuki and his Suzuki Company of Toga on their adaptations of "Electra" and "King Lear".

Midori Takada: In Motion: https://thevinylfactory.com/films/midori-takada-film-midori-takada-in-motion/

Takada's compositions have a remarkable way of affecting the imagination. Her minimalist, contemplative music is filled with the concept of infinity and reminds us of a moon voyage, falling stars, a journey into the ocean, or a walk in the garden. The trans melodies, initially simple, begin to loop and splinter, their rhythm breaking and thickening, slowly drawing the listener into another reality.

The programme of the Audra Contemporary City Festival is jointly developed by the youth organisation "Kylantis Kaunas", team of the nightclub Lizdas, Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022 and various partners from Greece, Serbia, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland and Japan.

Midori Takada in Kaunas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aydh8AYUA4s

The “Confluence” Effect in Kaunas: thousands of people gathered in the city

How many ways are there to celebrate life? “Confluence”, the second act of the Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy, flooded the city with a multifaceted programme, showing that there are just as many of us. Every resident or guest of the European Capital of Culture created their own celebration formula this weekend. From a dinner table on Laisvės Alėja to wild dances on Town Hall Square, from the question-raising contemporary art in unexpected spaces to the heart- and body-soothing traditional sauna rituals by the river. From the feverish game of Kaunas Beast, which was even more involving than in January, to quiet pauses in art oases or a selfie after climbing the observation tower erected at the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris rivers just for this weekend. “Confluence”, an international cultural festival, was by far the most colourful and eventful celebration to ever hit Kaunas. It is estimated that more than several hundred thousand culture and art seekers attended the events in these days, while performances were created by over 1000 singers, acrobats and actors.

After celebrating the fifth edition of the Courtyard Festival on Friday in the central axis of Kaunas, Laisvės Alėja, on Saturday, the main action of “Confluence” moved to the Old Town and other parts of the city. From the morning onwards, orange balls were bouncing in the “Beast of the Street” tournament by the House of Basketball, while the sauna brothers gathered by the Neris River to set up their fires and prepare for talks on healthier living.

By midday, the most impatient had already dived into three themed mazes set up by Catalan Espectacle Spectacular. The labyrinths required a lot of wandering and head-turning to get through. The reward for successfully solving the puzzles were the performances presented by Kaunas State Puppet Theatre for the Kaunas Puppet 22 International Festival or the incense people could make themselves in the town of creative experiences. Of course, one could also bargain for souvenirs from the traditional fair dedicated to Kaunas’ birthday, which, like the Courtyard Festival, this year was attended by participants from Ukraine and other countries.

The French acrobatic troupe Cie Basinga gave an extraordinary, breathtaking show to those gathered at Kaunas Castle. The artist walked on a 230-metre long rope seemingly carefree and was greeted with an ovation for such tricks as a split or a headstand and other incredible movements that have been polished for years, ten metres above the ground. Fifty Kaunas 2022 volunteers worked together to make this performance, accompanied by fantastic live music, a success, creating the rope tension needed for a perfect show.

The initiative “Let's Celebrate the River”, which offered two cultural routes on the Neris and the Nemunas, invited people to discover unity in water. Cultural stops and co-created works of art awaited the inventively dressed, birthday-themed river-goers. “I would say that such routes should exist not only on the city’s birthday but permanently - that is, when travelling on the river by kayak or raft, you always want to visit an unexpected place or event, so I would vote for permanent art stops along the rivers,” commented a participant later after having completed the section on the Nemunas River starting from Petrašiūnai.

Music lovers also received some outstanding gifts - concerts by popular and emerging artists on two stages. On Friday, Justinas Jarutis, Saulės kliošas and Monique greeted everyone in Santaka Park, while on Saturday, Sisters on Wire, GJan and Saulius Prūsaitis took over the main stage. The Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage, which has just been set up in the Town Hall Square, was full of foreign guests, including LÜCY from Taiwan, Bratri from the Czech Republic and Musica Vitae from Sweden. The most interesting Lithuanian artists and performers - Kristijonas Ribaitis, shishi, or Baltic Balkan, who created a massive party after the main “Confluence” show - also performed on the stage that will remain in the square until autumn.

As darkness fell, miraculously - or maybe with the tail wagging the Beast of Kaunas? - the rain stopped, and tens of thousands of spectators flocked to the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers, unwilling to miss the second act of the Contemporary Kaunas Myth trilogy. The show transformed the father of the rivers into a giant stage. The stars of the show were not only the musicians including the Ukrainian Jamala, who stunned with her fiery performance, Giedrė and Jessica Shy, Linas Adomaitis, Beissoul & Einius, Algirdas Kaušpėdas, ROYCE but also canoeists, windsurfers, aqua-acrobats and everyone else attracted to water as the most alluring element.

The actor Dainius Svobonas navigated the audience’s eyes, ears, and souls with his questions right up to the show’s climax, which once again reminded the whole world that Kaunas is not only the centre of Lithuania but also of European culture. Kaunas is a living organism whose heart beats strongest at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers, the mythical birth point of the city. “We are capable of more than we think” - with this statement, Svobonas led the crowd of thousands to continue experiencing “Confluence” and celebrating the art and culture that will help build the city together beyond 2022.

The fastest ones rushed upstream - back to the centre of Kaunas, to the Nemunas Island, where the quickest unveiling of a sculpture in history took place at midnight. Spotlights welcomed the Beast of Kaunas, who finally appeared, showing off his glowing body, and who can now be visited by all who wish. Another new attraction - the tooth of the Beast of Kaunas discovered by ceramicist Remigijus Sederevičius - awaits near the Kaunas Castle. It is said to bring good luck to those who see it and show it to others.

On Sunday, the vector of “Confluence” turned to the Kaunas district. In Zapyškis, the traditional international kite festival “Between the Earth and the Sky” was held, followed by the long-awaited opening of the cultural ship “Nemunas7”. The historic dredge, reborn as an art space, will invite visitors to contemporary art exhibitions, workshops and residencies until the end of the warm season.

The trilogy of the Contemporary Kaunas Myth, which began with the “Confusion” in January and invited to dive into “Confluence”, will culminate in November with the last act - “Contract”. The European Capital of Culture programme in Kaunas and the Kaunas region continues throughout the year, with hundreds of traditional and debut events planned for 2022, including exhibitions, festivals, performances and other activities created by local and international artists and Kaunas communities. For the complete Kaunas 2022 programme, please visit www.kaunas2022.eu or the mobile app.

European Capital of Culture Forum in Kaunas: Visions of Legacy and Lessons from Ukraine

What happens to a city when the European Capital of Culture year ends? Perhaps cultural life is replenished with new festivals, but it is more essential to see people discover their artistic flair and witness stronger, more self-confident communities? Legacy is both a stronger identity and a more robust economic blood flow. Sometimes it’s a newfound love, even a new family. Maybe it’s just a cosier backyard. On 19 May, the fifth European Capital of Culture Forum invited to discuss how Kaunas will live beyond 2022 and hear inspiring and thought-provoking international examples.

Ana Kočegarova-Maj, Head of the Kaunas 2022 Programme, welcomed the Kaunas and European cultural community to the Žalgirii Arena amphitheatre and reminded them that the first such forum in 2018 was organised in search of a recipe for a successful European Capital of Culture (ECoC). How to create projects that have a lasting impact and inspire ambition and change in the local community? This Spring, as the Kaunas 2022 programme gathered momentum and the second act of the Contemporary Kaunas Myth trilogy, Confluence, approached, the forum became a much-needed pause and opportunity to reflect on the work that has already been done and a place to ask questions - how will we live, what goals will we set for ourselves in the coming years? Moreover, as the whole world is witnessing the war in Ukraine, the meeting in Kaunas provided an opportunity to hear first-hand the enormous power of transforming one’s professional skills in the face of terror and the importance of appreciating what we have here and now.

Practical examples from Lithuania and abroad 

The first speaker of the ECoC Forum was sociologist and artist Tadas Šarūnas. The expert, currently conducting an external evaluation of Kaunas 2022’s activities and legacy, playfully presented possible ways to define value and meaning. As an example of how the impact of culture and art cannot be measured in numbers alone, he presented the answer to the question of the meaning of life and the universe, as given by the writer Douglas Adams in his book “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”. A computer that has done countless years of calculations only spelt out ‘42’ in the book. According to the sociologist, numbers seem meaningless when you do not consider what is untouchable and incalculable. Next year, we will be looking at a study based primarily on small success stories that happened in Kaunas. Each of them is part of one immense legacy, one city body.

Beatriz Garcia, Associate Director at the Centre for Cultural Value in Liverpool (UK), gave a more scientific view of what a challenge of the scale of the ECoC can bring to a city. Liverpool’s success as a European Capital of Culture in 2008 was due to many internal and external factors. For example, shortly after the city won the bid, it was announced that the 2012 Olympic Games would be held in the UK capital, London, which was an added boost. Liverpool’s European pride also grew. As the country witnessed Brexit, this city hosted some of the largest rallies for remaining in the EU. Garcia also stressed the importance of sharing data and knowledge - reinventing the wheel each time is pointless. A qualitative assessment of the legacy can only be made by looking at the figures collected from the perspectives of specialists from different fields.

The latter thesis was in a way extended by the presentation “Gold and Coal: Artistic Community Experience”. It presented the work of the Italian director, contemporary circus artist and teacher Roberto Magro with the communities of the Kaunas district as a success story.

One of the speakers, Lukas Alsys, Deputy Head for Culture at Culture, Sports and Science Department, Kaunas District Municipality Administration, reminded that the ECoC title is shared by two municipalities this year. According to him, the inhabitants of the Kaunas district - as many as 25 towns - by joining the co-creation process invited by Kaunas 2022 had the chance to realise themselves in an unexpected way, proving that the language of art and culture is the most universal.

“We are far away from cultural centres, and cultural life here is based on ethnography and folklore - this is not a bad thing, but the repertoire is inherited, the content does not attract external attention, and as an elder, it is important for me that we grow not only in the number of new pavements but also in terms of the emotional connection with our land,” said Šarūnas Pikelis, head of the Batniava eldership. He recalled the community’s acquaintance with R. Magro, who came here to create the performance “Visions”, inspired by the works of Vytautas Mačernis and Čiurlionis: “We remembered that we actually had a forest, we saw it with new eyes - after the premiere, it became a meeting place for people, the forest came to life.”

Magro himself invited the Forum participants to participate in a playful experiment, presenting a unique working method based on seven invisible strings that can be used to control creativity. “One needs an aesthetic experience to teach the mind to be amazed,” said the Italian, recalling that last year in Batniava, he was impressed by the warmth of the people and the dedication of the Lithuanian artists to the process even in the pouring rain. He then told about his trip to Linksmakalnis, a village literally translated as “Funny mountain”. “I remember the first time I went there. I didn’t find a mountain or any fun - just the fact that it was a secret radio town during Soviet times. But they took me to a small museum of angels, and that’s how we created the play “Radio angels”,” recalled Magro, who made Linksmakalnis a famous town. He and contemporary circus professionals from all over the world who have visited the Kaunas area are still in contact with local young people. Amazingly, one Linksmakalnis teenager is already attending a circus school in Kaunas and is seriously considering such a career.

Lessons from the front

At the invitation of Kaunas 2022, Yulia Khomchyn, Head of the Lviv Cultural Strategy Institute, attended the ECoC Forum. The Ukrainian, who briefly introduced the principal idea of the Institute, devoted her presentation to showcasing how her work and that of her colleagues has changed since 24 February, when Russia started the war in Ukraine. The international partnerships that had been established previously took on a new meaning: the Institute sends factual information on the war to colleagues abroad. It has been able to effectively protect heritage assets with the knowledge and advice of foreign partners. Stained glass windows in churches covered in wood, sculptures hidden under sandbags, theatres turned into places of refuge - this has been the daily reality of Lviv, one of Ukraine’s most beautiful cities, for three months.

“We do what ongoing events demand so that we don’t lose what we are made for”, said the guest from Lviv. The CSI also acts as a humanitarian aid centre for Ukrainians arriving from cities under heavy attack and provides information for those in the cultural field, both those wishing to leave and those staying behind to defend their country. Khomchyn also shared a sensitive video clip, an excerpt from the diary of a jazz festival director fighting on the frontline.

“In the face of war, we came out much stronger than we thought. We were able to transform ourselves quickly and professionally - it is something we keep in mind when we think about our potential to rebuild Ukraine after the victory,” said the cultural expert. She also announced that she would like to organise the Ukrainian contemporary art triennial in Kaunas this year - Lublin in Poland is also being considered. However, there is still plenty of time before October. Anyone with ideas is invited to get in touch and share them.

Growing culture, desire to continue 

In the afternoon, Agata Etmanowicz, Audience Development Specialist, Vice President of Impact Foundation from Poland, invited representatives of the Kaunas cultural field to share their experience gained in the training courses provided by Kaunas 2022. She presented the journey of the programme from 2019 to today. The impact of the programme on their organisations was shared s presented by representatives of the Kaunas Biennial, Kaunas Vincas Kudirka Public Library and Kaunas IX Fort Museum. “The experiences of the organisations are different, but the positive effect seen by all is the increased cooperation between Kaunas cultural institutions and the partnerships that have been established,” Monika Straupytė, Acting Head of the Cultural Management Department of the Kaunas Vincas Kudirka Library, told after the presentation.

Immie Jonkmann, Head of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018, shared the case of the region of the Netherlands, which celebrated the ECoC title four years ago. This year, Leeuwarden and Friesland are presenting the first ECoC legacy event, the Arcadia triennial. Among its highlights are hundreds of trees planted in mobile containers, which ‘travel” around the city to remind people of the importance of nature. According to Jonkman, the attitude of the authorities towards cultural projects has changed a lot since 2018, and it has become much easier to get support for ideas and funding.

Both the guest from the Netherlands and Virginija Vitkienė, Head of Kaunas 2022, who followed her, agreed that it is difficult to talk about the legacy of the Kaunas project at this stage when all the activities are just getting underway. Vitkienė presented the most important Kaunas highlights and initiatives, stressed the importance of having supportive partners and revealed which Kaunas 2022 projects will definitely live on in the years to come. These include the ConTempo and Magenta festivals, Kaunas Literature Week, etc.

The main day of the fifth European Capital of Culture Forum ended with the discussion “Post ECOC. A New Beginning”. It was attended by I. Jonkmann, V. Vitkienė, L. Alsys, as well as the Vice-Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Albinas Vilčinskas, and the Vice-Mayor of Kaunas, Mantas Jurgutis. All agreed that the activities should not cease after 2022. After all, the continuation of the project was already discussed in the project application, and both the Government and municipal representatives agreed to it. This is also included in the Kaunas Cultural Strategy.

On Friday morning, some of the guests of the ECC Forum took part in Etmanowicz’s workshop, while others were preparing for the Confluence weekend marathon. Over 60 events - concerts, performances, workshops, etc. - are planned for Kaunas, which celebrates its birthday on 20-22 May.

The complete Confluence programme is available at kaunas2022.eu/santaka or on the Kaunas 2022 mobile app.

A joint exhibition of MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum: „Kaunas–Vilnius: Moving Mountains“

MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum open a unique exhibition about two cities and in two cities. The exhibition "Kaunas–Vilnius: Moving Mountains" explores the coded and inevitable conflict between Kaunas and Vilnius. However, this tense relationship is approached from a positive perspective – the rivalry does not take anything away from the two cities, but pushes them both relentlessly forward. The exhibition is one of the highlights of the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme this year.

By inviting visitors to the exhibition representatives of MO Museum and Kaunas City Museum invite them to reflect on the changing dynamic relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius. And to answer the question: how are these cities related and necessary to each other? The entire exhibition can be seen by visiting both cities – MO Museum in Vilnius and the temporary M. K. Čiurlionis Art Gallery in Kaunas. The exhibition will run till 28 August.

More than external competition

Both cities are associated with stereotypes, with clichés that can't be explained quickly but are familiar to all. However, the curators of the exhibition missed new research about them, so they started by consulting experts in different fields. According to the cultural historian Tomas Vaiseta, the author of the exhibition concept, the exhibition was originally supposed to be about the competition between Kaunas and Vilnius, about stereotypes that could be analysed anthropologically. But as curators delved deeper into the exhibition's material, a different picture of the exhibition began to emerge – a narrative about the relationship between the cities, which is much more diverse than just an external competition.

"The exhibition is about the artistic, cultural and political interaction between Vilnius and Kaunas. The various storylines in the exhibition help to present the multi-layered aspects of Kaunas and Vilnius' proximity and relationship. This is an art and cultural history exhibition, which aims to grasp the constantly evolving and changing images of the two cities, the relationship of the citizens with these cities, their self-perception and even alternative identities," says T. Vaiseta.

What mountains are moved?

The curators of the exhibition have left both an intrigue in the title and a hint to the exhibition's intentions – they have chosen the metaphor of a "mountain" to describe the relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius. A mountain is an obstacle, a challenge, it connects and separates at the same time. Through the four mountains that constantly appear in the exhibition's narrative – Gediminas Hill, Žaliakalnis, Tauro Hill and Owl Hill – different forms of interaction between Kaunas and Vilnius are revealed.

"Although the exhibition is about mountains, there are no real mountains in either Vilnius or Kaunas, only hills. Therefore, "mountain" takes on several meanings in the exhibition. It becomes a metaphor for a complex or resentment, when we want what we don't have. The aspiration to "move mountains", which appears in the title of the exhibition, appeals to the effort to get rid of complexes, grievances and obstacles that prevent one from seeing the true relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius", – says T. Vaiseta.

The motif of the mountain is also physically important, as it is repeated in the architecture of the exhibition, which visually reveals the exhibition as an expedition. Visitors walking freely through the exhibition space will discover mountains, their foundations or ruins. The architecture for the exhibition was created by Julijonas Urbonas and Vladas Suncovas, and the exhibition designer is Inga Navickaitė-Drąsutė.

Works of art created especially for the exhibition

The exhibition features a wide range of artworks: paintings, photography, video art and installations. In total, there are 202 works of art (151 in Vilnius and 51 in Kaunas), including seven works created especially for this exhibition. It was very important for the curators to see Vilnius and Kaunas as cities that interact here and now, that influence each other and that are critically reflected upon by artists. Therefore, the exhibition deliberately includes a number of younger generation artists. The exhibition also features as many as 123 different sketches, posters, cartoons, online memes, children's drawings, videos from social platforms or songs.

Experiences to accompany the exhibition

By delving deeper into the relationship between Kaunas and Vilnius, the curators of the exhibition have expanded the theme in various formats. Therefore, the exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition book analysing the theme of Kaunas and Vilnius from different angles; from artistic, geographical, sociological and even linguistic perspectives. An e-guide to the exhibition in Lithuanian and English will help you experience the exhibition in both Kaunas and Vilnius.

A diverse exhibition team

The co-authors of the exhibition include no fewer than seven representatives from the fields of art, culture, history and other fields of expertise. The author of the exhibition concept is Tomas Vaiseta. Curators and co-curators of the exhibition: Justina Juodišiūtė, Kotryna Lingienė, Kęstutis Lingys, Ernestas Parulskis, Miglė Survilaitė, Rasa Žukienė. The curators of the exhibition were also consulted by: Julijana Andriejauskienė, Marija Drėmaitė, Linara Dovydaitytė, Giedrė Godienė, Lara Lempertienė, Jurgita Verbickienė, Sigita Žemaitytė-Strazdė. Architects of the exhibition: Vladas Suncovas, Julijonas Urbonas, designer – Inga Navickaitė-Drąsutė.


More about the exhibition in Vilnius - https://mo.lt/en/ivykiai/kaunas-vilnius/

About the exhibition in Kaunas – https://kaunomuziejus.lt/exhibition/kaunas-vilnius-moving-mountains/?lang=en

Kaunas will be shaken by the grand “Confluence” weekend: organizers reveal an impressive three-day programme

“It’s like a journey through the three stages of human life - understanding who I am, accepting myself as I am, and being happy with myself as I am,” is how Rytis Zemkauskas, one of the creative masterminds behind Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022, introduced the Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy.

After “Confusion” shook the Lithuanian city in January, on 20-22 May, Kaunas 2022 invites the participants to immerse themselves in the second part of the trilogy, “Confluence”, and to listen to the flow of the waters, to forget the contradictions and to celebrate unity. Over 60 events await in Kaunas and Kaunas district over the festive weekend, from breathtaking aerial acrobat performances and puppet shows to a mystery show influenced by nature and the arrival of the great ship of culture.

A Massive Dinner to Start it All

It is no coincidence that the “Confluence” weekend, filled with togetherness, will kick off with the Courtyard Festival inspired by the European Neighbour Day. According to Kaunas 2022's community programme “Fluxus Labas!” coordinator Simona Savickaitė, the tradition, started by artist Vytenis Jakas in 2017, has survived thanks to the people who look forward to it every year with burning eyes.

“In a couple of hours, around fifty bands will perform on Laisvės Avenue. Tables of cafés, restaurants and people, communities and organisations will be lined up between their podiums. The artists will also entertain from balconies. We look forward to welcoming guests from other European Capital of Culture cities. The event will close with a special concert by the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra at the Soboras,” says the organiser of the Courtyard Festival, inviting everyone to Laisvės Alėja on Friday evening.

The Weekend’s Main Intrigue to Take Place on the Water

The most anticipated event of Saturday, 21 May, and maybe of the whole weekend, is the Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy show “Confluence” itself. “The experience of this event will also depend on the grace of Kaunas rivers: the speed of the current, the water level, the air temperature and the strength of the wind,” intrigues the creative team working on the first show of its kind in Lithuania to take place in flowing water. The artists reveal that the set will feature waves of boats, with projections animating the rivers providing a unique spectacle, and live orchestral music will help the audience sink into a dream.

Over a hundred performers will create an unpredictable impression and perform the technically complex programme at “Confluence”. Obviously, 21 May will be the only opportunity to see such a show, as it is impossible to repeat it.

The organizers are preparing even more surprises. After the grand evening event, at 11:55 p.m., the mysterious symbol of the city - Kaunas Mythical Beast - will show up to Kaunas residents and guests. It will be waiting for the audience nearby the “Žalgiris” arena, in the shortest sculpture unveiling ceremony in the world, which will last only a minute. “People will come to see this sculpture from all over the world,” promise the organizers and reveal that the best way to see the Beast is from afar: from the bike path of Karalius Mindaugas avenue or the Žalgiris Arena bridge by the Carmelite Church.

14 concerts on the Summer Stage

The second act of the contemporary Kaunas myth trilogy will also include Kaunas’ birthday. Performers from all over the world - Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Taiwan and Lithuania - will congratulate the city and its people at the new Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage, located in Town Hall Square.

Among the many performers are the Swedish string orchestra Musica Vitae, JISR, LÜCY, Bratři, Colors of Bubbles, Baltic Balkan, Kedrostuburas, Ministry of Echology and Arklio galia.

50 Assistants Needed for an Aerial Acrobat’s Performance

A 180-metre rope stretched 10 metres high, and an acrobat demonstrating her skills without any safety equipment. Sound incredible? Balance and imbalance, courage and fear, strength and weakness - a whole bouquet of emotions will come together in the Open Lines spectacle created by the world-renowned professionals from France, Cie Basinga. Music, acrobatic rope walks and the synergy of height and air await in just two exclusive performances at Santaka on Saturday and Sunday. The show will start at 4 pm on the Kaunas Castle grounds.

Interestingly, for the performances to run smoothly, a team of as many as 50 assistants is needed to hold the rope from swinging with their body weight. Similar shows by Cie Basinga have already been organised abroad - ropes have been swung at great heights in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France and other countries, with the help of local people - this will be the case in Kaunasm too.

Cultural Routes Along the Neris and Nemunas Rivers

For friends or neighbours, here’s an idea - divide into two groups, team Nemunas and team Neris, and spend 21 May sailing in canoes, boats, or even homemade rafts. The participants of the community cultural route “Let’s celebrate the river!” will be invited to enjoy various educational activities, exhibitions, musical rhythms and workshop areas along the way.

Those who choose the River Neris will be invited to join in creating a large-scale drawing in the art plein air event in the Neris riverfront park. An oasis of peace - an island of music and education - awaits families with children at the P. Vileišis Bridge.

The Panemunė beach will be waiting for participants sailing down the river Nemunas. There will be volleyball and checkers tournaments, a board games area and even fencing classes. At the Panemune Bridge, people are invited to a plein air painting of wooden boats. Yet another art stop will await at the Žemieji Šančiai beach.

The Weekend Finale to be Held in Zapyškis

Everyone is invited to Zapyškis, a town in Kaunas District, to celebrate the “Confluence” weekend finale. After the kite festival “Between the Earth and the Sky”, on Sunday, 22 May, the historical dredge will start a new life here, becoming a cultural boat “Nemuno7“. The main show will start after the sunset. An audiovisual musical narrative about water, sustainability and dialogue will be performed by the duo from Klaipėda “Tykumos”. The artists will voice underground, geological, human inner, visible and invisible water currents, while metal dredge structures will become musical instruments for one evening. All this will be combined with original atmospheric music and authentic folk songs sung by the mixed choir Kamertonas. Spectators are invited to watch the performance from the banks of the Nemunas and plan their visit to the culture boat, where the first exhibitions will already be on display, from 24 May.

Countless cultural events and traces of the Mythical Beast of Kaunas

Also from 20-22 May. Kaunas will host the International Puppet Theatre Festival Kaunas Puppet 2022, the European Culture Fair, the Artists’ Square, a unique Labyrinth Puzzle in the Old Town, and Putvinskio Street Day in the city centre.

Kaunas 2022 also invites the attendee of “Confluence” to visit the European Capital of Culture exhibitions. The National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum and the Kaunas Picture Gallery are hosting retrospectives of William Kentridge and Marina Abramović. At the same time, the exhibition “1972: Breaking through the Wall”, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the burning of Romas Kalanta, awaits at the Kaunas Central Post Office.

Traces of Kaunas symbol - the Mythical Beast - will be spread throughout the city during the weekend. Ceramist Remigijus Sederevičius will present a unique sculpture of the Beast's Tooth. Moreover, after picking up a special mask at the information centres, Kaunas residents and guests of the city will be invited to take part in the game - visit the venues and collect stickers, for which they will receive special prizes.

Additional train routes Kaunas-Vilnius will be available during the weekend. Trains will leave from the Capital of Culture on Friday at 9:50 p.m., on Saturday at 11:40-55 p.m. and Sunday 09:50 p.m.

Traffic restrictions during the events

During the events, traffic will be restricted in Kaunas Old Town (from May 20 at 12:00 p.m. to May 22 at 9:00 p.m.), Užnemunės str. in one traffic lane (from 12 May at 6:00 p.m. to 22 May at 00:00 a.m.) and Užnemunės str. in all lanes (19 May 4:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. on 20 May and from 01:00 p.m. on 21 May until 2:00 a.m. on 22 May)

The complete programme of the Kaunas 2022 weekend “Confluence” is available on kaunas2022.eu and the Kaunas 2022 mobile app.


Kaunas 2022 to Open a Summer Stage: Around the World of Music and Culture in 80 days

On 12-13 May, Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022 will open a new Summer Stage, the essential cultural gift of the warm season for the city. Every Thursday to Sunday until mid-September, Kaunas Town Hall Square will host concerts, performances and other creative activities by Lithuanian artists and international guests.

The location of the new cultural space - Town Hall Square - fits perfectly with Kaunas 2022’s primary motto, “From Temporary to Contemporary”. It is one of the most traditional places in the city, where the sounds of today’s music will symbolically resound throughout the season, and later, the square will undergo reconstruction.

During the eighty days of stage activities, Kaunas aims to host performers not only from Lithuania and Europe but also from Asia and South America. The most interesting Lithuanian bands and Kaunas 2022 ambassadors will perform here. Audiences will also enjoy stage performances by Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre, Kaunas National Drama Theatre and other events.

Guests from Latvia and Germany for the Opening Weekend

On the occasion of the opening of the Summer Stage, unique gifts from Lithuanian and foreign artists are being carefully packed. The stage will feature four performances and as many different styles of music.

On Thursday, 12 May, Latvian indie-rockers Carnival Youth, one of the most successful bands of the new generation in the Baltics, will return to Kaunas after a two-year break. Back in 2016, the trio received the European Border Breakers Award. The band will present their latest work exclusively for Kaunas.

The Summer Stage will present an exclusive duo – a tandem of Algirdas Kaušpėdas (Antis) and Victor Diawara (Skamp). The songs of Antis, which sparked a true musical revolution during the independence movement in the 80s, remain relevant to this day. A special duo will present a new intriguing programme.

The opening weekend’s highlight will be the eccentric electronic music duo Beissoul & Einius, who rarely appear in Lithuania these days. On Friday night, the performers will surprise not only with their endless energy and exceptional sound but also their looks.

On Friday, for the first time, Germany’s TOYTOY, a jazz band whose music has already captured the hearts of many music fans, will take to the Lithuanian stage. The quartet’s music is inspired by hip-hop rhythms, contemporary classical notes and art-pop sounds.

14 concerts for the Birthday of Kaunas

Coincidence or not, the second act of the contemporary Kaunas myth trilogy, “Santaka”, will also celebrate the city’s birthday. Performers from all over the world - Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Taiwan and Lithuania - will greet Kaunas and its guests on the Summer Stage. As many as 14 performances will offer an alternative soundtrack for the city’s birthday.

The three-day music programme on the Summer Stage will start on a lighter note, with guitar music merging with jazz rhythms before building up to an electronic music fiesta. And for those who love the sounds of world music, there will be a bouquet of exciting performances in the world music programme, with four guests from Asia and Europe.

The local alternative noise-rock band Sraigės efektas will amaze the participants of the Santaka weekend with the sounds of a guitar. They will be joined by a female rock band Shishi, often described as the most vital trio in today’s Lithuanian music, breaking standards about women in alternative music. Both bands have been nominated for the M.A.M.A. (2021) Awards in the Alternative Band of the Year category.

Later will come jazz rhythms by the quartet Juzt. Although the group was formed only a few years ago, it has already conquered the Lithuanian jazz scene - the performers can boast first prizes in a handful of competitions. Kristijonas Ribaitis, an indie and electronica artist whose post-punk sound motifs can be heard in his work, will bring sharper sounds to the stage and invite everyone to dance.

On Saturday, the second day of the Santaka weekend, the Swedish string orchestra Musica Vitae will tell the legends of Sweden through the sounds of historical genres. JISR, a band from Munich, Germany, will combine Western and Eastern cultures. On the same day, pop/indie sounds from Taiwan will also take the stage, with LÜCY, an artist with hundreds of thousands of internet streams. She will later be appearing at major European festivals this summer.

The Czech DJ duo Bratři, frequent performers in the most exciting European locations, has also added Kaunas’ birthday to their itinerary. So did the Lithuanian rock band Colours of Bubbles, twice awarded M.A.M.A. Rock Band of the Year. After dark, after the big Santaka mystery, Baltic Balkan, famous for their around-the-world folk music raves, will bring the buzz back to the Town Hall Square.

As the Santaka programme will draw to a close on Sunday, the band Kedrostuburas, which enchants with rock, hip-hop, soul and jazz music, will light up the Town Hall Square with upbeat sounds. The reggae/dub band Ministry of Echology, who have released three albums in their career and are preparing a fourth, will also be in Kaunas to present new music on the Summer Stage. Another welcome guest of the Santaka weekend is the art-rock band Arklio Galia, who will perform on saxophones, guitars, plates and drums, while the band members will play librettos on the most intriguing topics.

Last Weekend of May Packed With New Albums, Hip-hop Legends and African and Chilean Rhythms

African rhythms will bring spring to a noisy close in Kaunas. On 25 May, the African Drum Festival comes to the Summer Stage. The cultural event “African Days” has been presenting African culture for a decade and spreads the word about this continent every spring – stoked to have them in Kaunas!

On 27 May, Subhira from Chile will join in the music therapy. One of the country’s most innovative ensembles in the world music genre, their compositions blend the rhythms and languages of South American nations, progressive and contemporary world music, jazz and folklore. They are brought to Kaunas by the World Sounds Festival, which will offer more exotic surprises this summer.

Lithuania’s most loved rock band Garbanotas has prepared a long-awaited gift for Kaunas - on 26 May, they will present their new album on the Summer Stage.

And then there’s a surprise for urban culture lovers - the legendary hip-hop festival “Live from Kaunas Streets” will return to the city for one day, on 28 May, taking the audience back to 2005-2014. The festival, which is of great importance for the development of Kaunas underground culture, has contributed to the entry of artists such as Lilas and Innomine, MC Mesijus, Tie Geresni, Micro One and others into the music scene. Hip-hop fans will be able to see legendary artists such as Vaiper, Erke, MC Messiah and others again.

Another international, but in fact very local, highlight on the Summer Stage is planned for 29 May. The Kaunas 2022 programme “Memory Office” is organising a klezmer music concert “Songs from Testimonies”.

All Kaunas 2022 Summer Stage events are free of charge. For a full schedule of concerts and other activities, visit kaunas2022.eu, the Kaunas 2022 app or the calendar at kultura.kaunas.lt.