Being a member of the EBU for seven years already, Lithuanian Radio has offered its listeners ample opportunities to hear live concerts of world's famous performers. Moreover, for several years it has initiated joint broadcasting projects, which included new Lithuanian music and musicians. In March 1999, the Euroradio season's concert 'Myths in Music' has featured, among other works, the suite from the ballet Eglė, Queen of the Grass-snakes by Eduardas Balsys and the monumental symphony-oratorio Epitaphium temporum pereunti by Bronius Kutavičius. For the new millenium's celebration, five-minutes chamber piece ...quasi Viderunt Omnes et Notum Fecit Dominus (1999) by Vytautas Barkauskas was composed on a commission from the Lithuanian Radio as part of the joint EBU project 'Viderunt Omnes' coordinated by the BBC. Among 21 opera performances, scheduled to be broadcast during Euroradio Opera season 2000-2001, the multimillion European audience will hear Kutavičius' new opera The Bear on 11 November 2000.
For this year Euroradio season's broadcast, Lithuanian Radio has ventured the live transmission from the Lithuanian venue and commissioned a new large-scale work to Algirdas Martinaitis. The project was carried out in cooperation with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir under the baton of Gintaras Rinkevičius. Martinaitis' oratorio A Letter to All the Faithful (after St. Francis of Assisi) for treble voice, soprano saxophone, preacher, mixed choir and symphony orchestra was presented to the international audience in live broadcast from the Vilnius Congress Concert Hall on March 13.
As in his other recent works, Martinaitis alludes here to music of the composers with whom he feels spiritual affinity, and particularly to European tradition of modern oratorio, established by such fathers of 'new spirituality' as Carl Orff, Henryk Górecki, John Tavener and Arvo Pärt. In terms of literary and religious inspirations, not a few of his compositions are closely bound up with the personality and texts of St. Francis. According to the composer, St. Francis' writings and sermons have been translated into many languages, his ideas are close to different nations: 'I was not interested in experiments, but rather in a possibility to access broad audience with my music. In this sense, my oratorio is intented to resemble communal singing at the country church, unpretentious canticles of the countryfolk'.
This year Algirdas Martinaitis is given an extra dose of attention at the portrait concerts to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. The first one was given on St. Francis' name-day, October 4, at the St. Francis and St. Bernard Church in Vilnius where the premiere of his Five Invocations was performed among some earlier multilingual works on texts by the Italian friar. On November 14, Martinaitis' new work L'art imité l'art and new versions of Zone and The Dung-beetle Story will be performed by the most distinguished Lithuanian singers and pianists at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall.