Kaunas Music Ensemble "Ainiai"
Kaunas Music Ensemble “Ainiai” was established in 1991 by the initiative of Jonas Urbonas and Petras Venclova. The ensemble operated without legal status as a group of amateurs for about a year. In 1992 “Ainiai” became the first professional ensemble in Lithuania legitimized as a budgetary authority. The composition of performers in the ensemble has changed a few times, however, only musicians and soloists with higher musical education play in the orchestra. All performers are also multi-instrumentalists.
Kaunas Music Ensemble “Ainiai” toured in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, England, Poland, France, Norway, USA, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, South Korea and other countries.
One of the most memorable concerts for “Ainiai” happened in Oslo Town Hall (Norway). After the performance, the city representatives expressed their regret that even for 50 years such music was under the Iron Curtain. A sincere thank you was sent to the staff of the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania.
Concerts at the Lithuanian community home in England were a great success for the ensemble. Additionally, “Ainiai” earned exclusive permission to play in Covent Garden, where many well-known artists started their musical paths.
In Beverley Music Festival (UK), Ainiai surprised the audience and the fellow participants. The ensemble showed how church music could be played differently and earned sympathy from the audience. After a performance in Detmold, the orchestra received an invitation to play at Hamburg’s fair.
A meeting with Valdas Adamkus, the president of Lithuania, was one of the most memorable events during the tour in the US. The president’s speech about the ensemble: “in terms of Lithuanian music, Kaunas Music Ensemble “Ainiai” should be mentioned separately”. The orchestra performed in various festivals, churches, fairs and Lithuanian communities abroad.
The ensemble is a regular participant in Kaunas city days and other Kaunas festivities. Since the very beginning, alongside the concerts for adults, the ensemble has been carrying educational activities. Ainiai performs in schools and kindergartens. Currently, one of the main priorities of the ensemble is educational activities. The cooperation with Lithuanian schools and kindergartens is a continuous effort. The programs are professional and designed for children. They are arranged by the recommendations of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania.
More than 20 traditional Lithuanian instruments are played during the concerts. A few of those instruments are birbynė, kanklės, horns, reeds, skudučiai and much more. Not only traditional Lithuanian songs and dances are performed with these instruments, but also original arrangements, composed by various composers.
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