Lithuanian culture evolved over a long period of time. The Lithuanian language, traditions, names, national holidays are obvious evidence of identity and wealth of Lithuanian culture. Lithuanian nation has a very significant foundation in folk culture. There are more than a million examples of different genres, such as legends, proverbs, tales, stories, songs collected at the Institute of Lithuanian language and folklore.

The Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebration tradition, which has lasted for a hundred years now, is one of the largest cultural events in Lithuania. Taking place every four years, the Song and Dance Celebration is seen as the most universal manifestation of the Lithuanian national, cultural, artistic, public and political identity nationwide. It has become a link between the archaic folk cultural heritage and a contemporary national culture, as well as the professional art. The tradition and symbolism of the Song and Dance Celebration in Lithuania has been proclaimed by UNESCO a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Every guest visiting Lithuania will be surprised at how many art galleries – public and private, traditional and contemporary, - there are all over the country. Nearly all of the galleries change expositions regularly, thus offering the possibility to see works of many local artists representing different time-periods and styles.

The National Art Gallery is undoubtedly one of the newest and the most modern art centers of the country. It exhibits works of artists valued both in Lithuania and abroad.

If you are interested in the contemporary art, you are welcome at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), which offers demonstrations of installations, visual arts, performances by artists from Lithuania and the rest of the world. It is collaborates extensively with similar centers in Europe and is one of the largest. Therefore Lithuanian artists are often exhibited in exhibitions around the world. The CAC has a permanent exposition of George Mačiūnas Fluxus Cabinet. George (Lith. Jurgis) Mačiūnas, one of the pioneers of the famous movement that had many followers, created mainly in New York, USA, but was born in Lithuania.

Lithuanian filmmaking school is distinguished by its ability to look deep into a human soul. For instance, film director Arūnas Matelis won two prizes at the Silverdocs and Brooklyn Festivals in USA, the prestigious Directors Guild of America Award, and awards at the Amsterdam, Madrid and Leipzig Film Festivals, for his full-length documentary under the title “Before Flying Back to the Earth“ . He was also among 61 nominees for the Academy Award (Oscar) in the category of the Best Foreign Language Film.

The name of Jonas Mekas, who is often called the Godfather of American Avant-Garde Cinema, is also famous world-wide. This filmmaker of the Lithuanian descent, who lives and works in New York, has co-founded the Filmmaker’s Cinematheque in 1964, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of avant-garde films.

Lithuanian ethnic culture played a big role in formation of national culture. . Across the country, you can find a museum, store, and collect artifacts in Lithuanian ethnic group, introducing the ethnic crafts and cuisine. The country has annual festivals of ethnic culture.

Lithuania is famous for its professional choirs, chamber and symphony orchestras, ballet dancers and opera singers to be performed on the big stages of Europe and the world. Jazz lovers know its annual international jazz festival held in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and Birštonas.

Vilnius University, created in 1579, played a major role in the spread of education and science, not only in Lithuania but also in Belarus and Ukraine. Openness of Lithuanian contemporary culture contributed to its integration into European and world culture.  

It is natural that the absolute majority of professional theatres are concentrated in Vilnius. However, theatre is also still alive in other, smaller towns of the country. Nearly all of the theatres regularly go on tours and therefore have devotees across the world.

For instance, Eimuntas Nekrošius is always welcome on Italian theatre and opera stages, Rimas Tuminas is particularly popular in Northern Europe and Russia, and Oskaras Koršunovas is a must in the Avignon and Edinburgh theatre festivals. No less popular are highly modern dance theatres.

The best opera houses and concert halls of the world are more than happy to have opera star Violeta Urmana perform, internationally renowned opera singer Edgaras Montvidas is always welcome in North America and Japan, conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius with world-class musicians are to appear in the most prestigious venues in Lithuania and abroad, Mūza Rubackytė delights her audience from all over the world by  heady piano melodies and many talented singers from Lithuania reap laurels in international contests, where they perform not only the best pieces of classical, but also Lithuanian music.


Source:        www.lietuva.lt