lithuanian chamber orchestra

LKO 31 foto-D.Matvejevas©

A celebrated cultural treasure of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra is widely recognised as one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras. The remarkable history of the orchestra features over a hundred performances with Mstislav Rostropovich and Lord Yehudi Menuhin; a recording of Bach’s 12 Keyboard Concertos and Haydn Concertos for Piano and Orchestra with Tatjana Nikolaeva; Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus narrated by Sir Peter Ustinov and a recent recording of Vivaldi’s violin concertos with Sergej Krylov released by DG. Over the years its soloists have included Janine Jansen, Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope, Oleg Kagan, Yuri Bashmet, Misha Maisky, Natalia Gutman, David Geringas, Daniel Muller-Schott, Evgeny Kissin, Bruno Canino, Sergei Nakariakov, Alexei Ogrinchuk, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Mojka Erdmann, Avi Avital and others.

Based on a group of enthusiastic young musicians, LCO was created in 1960 by distinguished conductor Saulius Sondeckis, who remained at the helm until 2004. A new chapter in LCO’s history began in 2008 with the arrival of Sergej Krylov as their new Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. His dedication to the highest professional standard and finesse of music making, as well as a constant widening of the repertoire, opened new exciting horizons in the Orchestra’s development resulting in more than 200 highly acclaimed joint performances across the world. The critics described the dynamic musical partnership between the orchestra and Sergej Krylov as “a harmonious and conspiring relationship with the orchestra”, “an absolute attunement between the violinist-conductor and the orchestra” and “the charming and aristocratic gallantry, without improper familiarity, but with confidence in each other.”

The LCO has performed to great audience and critical acclaim at major European venues such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna’s Musikverein, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Salle Pleyel and Theatre Champs-Elysees in Paris, St Petersburg Philharmonie, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Mupa Budapest. The orchestra appeared at music festivals in Salzburg, Lucerne, Schleswig-Holstein, Stradivari Festival in Cremona, Sion, Gstaad, Rheingau, and Musikfest Berlin to name just a few.

The LCO has pioneered and inspired numerous works by composers such as Alfred Schnittke, Sofija Gubaidulina, Arvo Pärt, Pēteris Vasks, Gyia Kanceli, Rodion Schedrin, Edison Denisov, Sergei Slonimskij, Lera Auerbach and others, many of whom dedicated their works to the Orchestra. Thanks to an ingenious idea of inviting Schnittke as a harpsichordist in the LCO on its tour to Austria and Germany, the composer was able to bypass the official ban by Soviet authorities on his travel outside the USSR and be present at the premiere of his Concerto Grosso No.1 in the West – a piece written specially for Gidon Kremer, Tatjana Grindenko and the LCO. The live recording of this concert which also included Arvo Pärt’s Tabula rasa became one of the XX century’s bestselling CDs. Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No.3 was dedicated to the LCO to mark its 25th Anniversary.

From the very beginning and throughout its history the LCO has always been a passionate ambassador of Lithuanian music worldwide. The Orchestra has performed over 200 works by M.K.Čiurlionis, Balys Dvarionas, Stasys Vainiūnas, Eduardas Balsys, Bronius Kutavičius, Teisutis Makačinas, Vytautas Barkauskas, Algirdas Martinaitis, Mindaugas Urbaitis, Onutė Narbutaitė, Vidmantas Bartulis, Raminta Šerkšnytė and others.

Throughout six decades the LCO has produced over a hundred recordings of diverse repertoire released on labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, Melodiya, ECM and Teldec.

Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra always supported the progressive civil movement. Together with Lord Menuhin they gave an iconic performance of the Messiah with the African choir in a township outside Johannesburg in the newly liberated of apartheid Republic of South Africa. During Lithuania’s struggle for independence, LCO was instrumental in raising awareness in the Western countries about the tragic events of 1991 and bringing medical and humanitarian help for its homeland.

LCO was one of the first orchestras in the world to start live performances for socially distancing audiences as soon as the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted in early June 2020. They opened Vilnius Festival with two sold out concerts (Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with Sergej Krylov and another concert featuring works by Baltic composers), which were streamed and broadcast over multiple channels and on social media.