VILNIUS STRING QUARTET
DALIA KUZNECOVAITĖ (1st violin)
ARTŪRAS ŠILALĖ (2nd violin)
GIRDUTIS JAKAITIS (viola)
AUGUSTINAS VASILIAUSKAS (cello)
For more than five decades THE VILNIUS STRING QUARTET, a recipient of several prestigious prizes,has been enjoying the reputation of one of the leading collectives in the cultural life of Lithuania. Its performances have won accolades both in Lithuania and abroad.
The Quartet made its debut in 1965. In 1972, it was awarded the first prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Liege (Belgium); in 1973, it was named after the city of Vilnius. In 1979, the Quartet received the State Prize, in 2002 – Dr. Antanas Razma prize of the Lithuanian Foundation (USA), in 2004 – the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize, in 2005 – the Baltic Assembly Prize. In 2012, for its contribution to culture the Vilnius String Quartet was honoured with the St. Christopher Statuette. In 2015, prof. Audronė Vainiūnaitė, the Quartet’s founding 1st violin, has passed her 50-year-long “musical dowry” rich with over 3500 concerts to her student violinist Dalia Kuznecovaitė.
The ensemble has always felt its mission in putting its namesake on the world map. Having toured around the world, the Quartet has appeared in the world’s top concert halls, such as the Carnegie Hall in New York, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Salle Olivier Messiaen in Grenoble, Mozarteum in Salzburg, etc. In 2013, on occasion of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union the Vilnius String Quartet has given concerts in Egypt and France. The Quartet has represented Lithuania at numerous international festivals and prestigious events, such as “December Evenings” and “Flowers of the North” (Russia), festivals of Bregenz (Austria), Echternach and Bourglinster (Luxembourg), Cervantes (Mexico), Kuhmo and Naantali (Finland), “Liturgical Calendar” (Italy), “Schreyahner Herbst”, “Musica viva”, “Ükermerkische Woche” and Schleswig-Holstein (Germany), the Ohio State University (USA), Mill Hill (Great Britain), “Festival 38e Rugissants”, “Rencontres musicales le Prée”, “De Radio France et Montpellier”, Hector Berlioz, “West-East”, “Les Hautes-Pyrénées” and “Lisztomania” (France), “West Cork” (Ireland), Vilnius, Pažaislis, “Gaida”, “Thomas Mann” and Festival of String Quartets of Vilnius (Lithuania), etc. The celebration of Lithuania’s centenary in 2018 took the Quartet to Tel Aviv and Jaffa (Israel), Kiev, Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Dnipro (Ukraine); the Quartet presented various concerts as well as an educational programme “Lithuanian Music for Lithuanian Centenary” throughout Lithuania, including numerous appearances in Šiauliai – concert in memoriam to Saulius Sondeckis, as well as festivals “Verbum musicale” and “Republic of Montmartre of Šiauliai”.
The Vilnius String Quartet has collaborated with both renowned masters and young performers such as Tatyana Nikolayeva, Mikhail Pletnev, Liana Isakadze, Viktor Tretyakov, Michel Lethiec, David Geringas, Yury Bashmet, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Mūza Rubackytė, Andrius Žlabys, Golda Vainberg-Tatz, Vytautas Sondeckis, Jonė Kaliūnaitė, Indrė Petrauskaitė, Katerina Diadura, Merūnas Vitulskis, Jomantė Šležaitė, Guoda Gedvilaitė, Zubovas Piano Duo, Ugnius Pauliukonis, Onutė Gražinytė, Viktor Paley, Dovilė Kazonaitė and others.
The Quartet’s intriguing and remarkable programmes and concert series draw numerous audiences, refine their musical taste, introduce the Lithuanian listeners with both the music masterpieces and lesser known repertoire, illustrious performers and talented aspiring musicians. The ensemble has accomplished concert series “Art Masters of the World and Vilnius String Quartet”, “Music for String Quartet by Lithuanian Composers”, a fundamental series of eight concerts “Complete String Quartets by Beethoven”, “Complete String Quartets by Haydn”, a series of six concerts “Soirees of Romantic and Contemporary Lithuanian Music”, a series of fifteen concerts “Soirees of Chamber Music of New Countries of European Union”, a series of eight concerts “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Vienna”, a series of nine programs “Quartet and Piano”, etc. Annually, the Vilnius String Quartet presents programmes “Hour of Contemplation”, “New Year Eve Evenings with Vilnius String Quartet”, “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross” by Haydn (during the Holy Week); regularly takes part in family concerts, educational programmes, carries on with a tradition of concert series “Young Lithuanian talents and the Vilnius String Quartet”. In 2018, in “Elated by Art” programme the Quartet shared the stage with winners of various national and international competitions – young performers under the patronage of Rostropovich Charity and Support Foundation. The Quartet presents its connoisseurs with new opuses focusing on Lithuanian music – has performed more than 100 works by Lithuanian composers (half of them being especially dedicated to the ensemble). The collective has greatly contributed to the promulgation of quartet music by Jeronimas Kačinskas, a Lithuanian diaspora composer, performing his works in Lithuania and the USA.
Thanks to its ample repertoire the Vilnius String Quartet has been repeatedly invited to the recording studios in many countries of the world; its numerous recordings are housed at the Lithuanian Radio archives. The Quartet’s record credits currently include over 40 vinyl records and CDs on various Lithuanian, Russian, German, French, Finnish, Swedish, British and American labels. In 2010, a CD of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis’ works for string quartet was released in Sankt Petersburg; together with other performers the Quartet has recorded a CD of Jeronimas Kačinskas’ chamber music. 2011 saw a release of the Quartet’s CDs dedicated to Robert Schumann’s 200th birth anniversary and featuring singers Merūnas Vitulskis and Ona Kolobovaitė. In 2012, the Quartet and singer Liudas Mikalauskas recorded a CD “In the Voice of Maironis” (introduced at the concert in the LR Seimas on August 9th, 2012 on occasion of the World Lithuanian Congress). In 2012–2013, the LNPh released two CDs documenting “Intro musica” concert series recorded with flutist Vilmantė Kaziulytė, clarinettist Vytautas Giedraitis and organist Karolina Juodelytė. In 2012 and 2013, the major record label Toccata Classics released CDs of Vladas Jakubėnas and Jeronimas Kačinskas’ chamber music (which included several opuses recorded by the Vilnius String Quartet). In 2019, the Vilnius String Quartet and soprano Asta Krikščiūnaitė recorded Arvydas Malcys’ Jasmine’s Song featured on the composer’s personal CD.