KTU Folk Art Ensemble Nemunas is 70

KTU Folk Art Ensemble Nemunas is 70

Successful beginning and achievements

The origins of KTU folk ensemble – a song and dance ensemble established at Kaunas National Vytautas Magnus University at the end of 1949. Aloyzas Čižas, the concertmaster of National Kaunas Drama Theatre, was invited to be the first head of the ensemble and officially employed as the senior preparator at the Faculty of Chemical Technology. On 22 April 1950, the first concert of the ensemble took place in Chamber III of the University and in the summer of the same year, the ensemble participated in the Song Festival in Vilnius. On 1 January 1951, the University was reorganised into Kaunas Polytechnical Institute and its Medical Faculty into Kaunas Medical Institute. The reorganisation impacted half of the members of the ensemble; however, despite these difficulties, KPI ensemble participated in the SSRS amateur art review at the end of 1951 where it was awarded the first premium. In 1955, the ensemble won the title of the absolute best ensemble of the TSSR and in the same year, participated in the V World Youth and Students Festival in Warsaw. It was awarded the title of the LSSR distinguished ensemble at the end of 1958 and in 1963, KPI dance and song folk ensemble was given the name “Nemunas”. Since 1963, “Nemunas” has concerts abroad each year. A significant trip in the history of the ensemble was organised to Canada in 1967 where it performed at the exhibition  Expo’67. During this trip, the members of the ensemble learned the song of the Lithuanians from Canada “Stoviu aš parimus” became the hymn of “Nemunas” sung only on the most festive occasions. Apparently, the lyrics to this song were written and read by student Vanda Panavaitė-Stankienė at the literature night in 1942. Later, people turned this poem into a song the Lithuanian partisans loved to sing. The 1000th concert took place in 1969 when the ensemble celebrated its 20th anniversary. In 1978, “Nemunas| became the first amateur Lithuanian folk art ensemble with a full concert programme “Nemuno daina” (“Song of Nemunas”) – back then, it was a high artistic achievement. In 1989, just before the 40th anniversary, the ensemble prepared its programme “Atgimstančiai Lietuvai” (“For the Reviving Lithuania”) and toured the country with this programme. During the Soviet occupation, the ensemble had the following art directors: A. Buzys, L. Gadliauskas, A. Balčiūnas, A. Bartusevičius, P. Jurkonis, V. Švedas.

When Lithuania regained its independence

When Lithuania regained its independence, “Nemunas” often toured with its concert programmes in Europe, participated in the World Lithuanian and Student Song Festivals, various other festivals. Currently, it is more and more actively cooperating with other student organisations and participating in social activities. After the restoration of the statehood, the art directors of “Nemunas” were P. Jurkonis, J. Urbonas, H. Ganusauskas, and since 2003, the ensemble has been led by Margarita Tomkevičiūtė.  The folk art ensemble “Nemunas” is the winner of many awards: in 2001, the ensemble received the highest award of the Lithuanian National Culture Centre – “Aukso paukštė”, it is the winner of the competitions “Kadagys” (2001) and “Klumpakojis” (2006), in 2010, the ensemble won the second prize in the competition “Klumpakojis” and won the first prize in the competition  “Kadagys”. “Nemunas” has visited Finland, Poland, Germany, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic,  Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Italy, France, Great Britain, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, Croatia, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rika, Canada, USA, China, Japan.

“Nemunas” continues its old traditions and creates the new ones: in early autumn, the members are invited to the Zeppelin Feast, new members are honoured in the November Party, the wish of the freshmen to become the members of “Nemunas” is tested in their christening in spring, Mis “Nemunas” is elected on the Girls Day and Mister “Nemunas” – on the Guys Day. One of the most beautiful and ceremonial celebrations of “Nemunas” honouring its members who have spent at least five years in the ensemble is the graduation of the members.