International festivals of sacral music DŽIŪGAUKIM… ALELIUJA taking place in Marijampolė region are loved by performers and listeners. Music ennobles a man, enriches his inner world, gives joyful association moments, strengthens community, provides great pride of music culture. Annual event of sacral music taking place in Marijampole, cherishing traditions of musical life, attracting more and more music groups and performers, giving happiness of musical cognition to town dwellers and guests proves it.
The festival of sacral choral music „Džiūgaukim… Aleliuja“ – a great emphasis of St. Easter time, making bright the cultural life of the people from Sūduva region during the whole period of St. Easter. Every evening in St. Easter octave of Saint–Vincent–de–Paul church beautiful sounds of sacral music chords are performed by Marijampolė municipality and the neighbouring municipalities vocal groups(choirs, vocal ensembles and soloists). On Sunday after Easter Sunday choirs from all over Lithuania scatter in the churches of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, sing in St. Mass. After St. Mass they perform sacral music program, introduce listeners to their creative work, after the concert they communicate with local people. On Sunday afternoon groups gather in Marijampolė and end Sunday after Eastercelebrations with a big concert in which they not only perform their music pieces, but take part in a common program. Since 2009 the festival takes place for seven weeks, i.e. concerts take place in all Easter period. Every Sunday in Saint–Vincent–de–Paul Parish Churchand other churches in the Diocese of Vilkaviškis during St. Mass and after it the choirs sing from different towns of Lithuania and foreign countries. Not only sacral but secular music concerts take place, music sites are organized where the choirs interact and shareexperiences. On Whit Sunday the festival ends with sacral and secular music concerts in Marijampolė.
We present a brief overview of festivals held. In the spring of 2000 the first regional festival of sacral music took place in Marijampolė in which 12 best adult and children’s choir groups of Marijampolė region participated.
In 2001, in the second sacral music festival not only amateur but also professional choirs, vocalists, vocal ensembles participated. 18 groups from all over Lithuania performed sacral music in churches of Marijampolė.
In 2002, in the third festival of sacral music choirs not only from Lithuania participated but also from Suwalki (Poland). 22groups participated in total. Within seven days 34 concerts of sacral music were organized in the churches of Marijampolė County.
In 2003, in the fourth international sacral music festival participated 25 groups of vocal music from Lithuania and abroad. 42concerts were organized in the churches of Marijampolė and in the churches of neighbouring regional municipalities. The festival endedwith the final concert at Saint–Vincent–de–Paul Church in Marijampolė in which 12 choirs participated.
In 2004, in the fifth International sacral music festival participating groups performed its programs not only in the churches of Marijampole county, town and municipality, but also concerts were held in the neighbouring county halls and churches.
In 2005, in the sixth international festival of sacral music 21 groups participated. 29 concerts were organized. Choir from Suwalki Cultural Center, Chamber Choir “Suvalkija” from Marijampolė and Youth choir of Marijampolė college together with music lovers of Vilnius Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tadas Šileika, prepared and performed St. Moniuškos” Litany of Dawn Gate “. Performance of large scale music piece with the Symphony Orchestra has become a tradition for all other festivals.
In 2006 the seventh international festival of sacral music was dedicated to W.A. Mocart’s 250- th birth anniversary, 24groups participated in it. 15 groups from Lithuania and abroad participated in the final concert.
The eighth international festival of sacral music in 2007 has become a festival cycle where every day the boys’ choirs, churchchoirs, professional choirs, amateur choirs, chamber choirs and vocal ensembles, small festivals of foreign choirs took place. There wereorganized 57 concerts in 22 churches and cultural centres. High-level international groups participated in the festival such as LatvianJumpravas female vocal ensemble “Anima solla “, Polish boys’ vocal ensemble “Concentus”. The festival featured a variety of music:from grigalian chorale, Renaissance choral music masterpieces to contemporary music scores. The leaders of the neighbouring municipality became interested in the festival and organized festival echoes (continuation) of the eighth festival of sacral music in theirlocal churches, cultural centers. Expanding of Marijampolė sacral music festival in Poland, in wonderful Wigry Basilica the sacral musicfestival “Salve Regina” took place, where participated the groups from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland that performed best in Marijampolė festival.
The ninth international festival of sacral music in 2008 was distinguished for number of groups. Every single day was like afestival. On children and youth day nine groups participated – from kindergarten-age groups to sacral music school groups; in Šakiai municipality in the evening of groups seven vocal ensembles and two soloists participated, on boys’ choir day there were over 200 boys and youngsters as participants. In total participated 45 groups, 16 soloists, Vilnius Amateur Symphony Orchestra (in total 1112participants), 60 events were organized.
In 2009, in the international sacral music festival that was dedicated to the millennium of Lithuania’s name mentioned 72groups, 26 soloists participated. Total number was 2453 participants. 42 events were organized. Seven festival concerts were dedicatedto the constant revival and promotion of choral traditions of Lithuania’s Millennium state. It was Lithuanian vocal music evenings where the presentation from ancient times to modern choral music took place. Over 10 thousand listeners took part in the events .
The eleventh international festival of sacral music held in 2010 and dedicated to the foundation of the 70th year anniversaryand the restoration of the 20th anniversary of Saint–Vincent–de–Paul parish extended the traditions of the former festivals. That was one of the greatest vocal music festivals not only in the region, but also in Lithuania in which 41 groups, 20 soloists participated, 74 eventswere organized with 12 thousand listeners. The festival is expanding every year, increasing the number of concerts, artistic level of the groups is rising, new traditions are introduced that take root. The novelty of the eleventh festival – “Big works for Small areas” – presentation of concert programs not only to Marijampolė and municipality centers of the surrounding regions, but also to the dwellers of remoted places. The festival was different from other festivals of sacral music in that it was organized not only religious but alsosecular music concerts.
The twelfth international festival of sacral music took place in 2011 in which 48 groups (1450 participants), 12 soloists participated, 81 event was organized. The festival involved groups from Russia, Germany and Poland. It was organized 10 music sites attended by 2-5 groups. The choirs shared creative ideas, performed a common repertoire, the contacts between conductors andensembles were established. As a result several common projects were prepared and the concerts like the festival continuation were held in Lithuania and abroad in September, October.
Festival organizers maintain contacts not only with the groups, but also with prominent choral art creators: composers, choir leaders. Festival organizers, advisors became such known choir leaders as Professor Vytautas Miskinis (Vilnius), Professor AlbinasPetrauskas (Kaunas), Kastytis Barisas (Vilnius), Saulius Liausa (Vilnius), Rasa Viskontaitė (Vilnius), Rasa Gelgotienė (Vilnius), Vakaris Lopas (Vilnius) Vita Vaitkevičienė (Kaunas), Lina Lukošienė (Vadžgiris), Birute Vžesniauskienė (Lazdijai), Aldona Šyvokienė (Prienai),Grzegorz Bogdan (Poland).
Thanks to Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre, Marijampolė county administration, Marijampolė municipality administration, Monsignor Juozas Pečiukonis of Marijampolė Saint–Vincent–de–Paul parish priest, Vilkaviškis diocesan deans, singers and the leader of Marijampolė chamber choir “Suvalkija”, the cultural center of Marijampolė, cultural workers and businessmen- sponsors of Marijampolė and surrounding municipalities the festival is increasing, bringing together an increasing number of artists, giving a great feast of the soul to the performers and listeners.