History and Activity
The Department of Chamber Ensemble at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre was founded in 1964. The background for the establishment of the department was determined by a dramatic increase in the popularity of the chamber music genre in Lithuania; new ensembles came into being, e.g. the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, the Lithuanian Quartet, and the Philharmonic Wind Quintet, which performed a classical repertoire in their concert programmes and encouraged Lithuanian composers to create chamber music. The main body of the teaching staff of the newly established department included the members of the Lithuanian Quartet — the violinists Eugenijus Paulauskas and Kornelija Kalinauskaitė, the viola player Jurgis Fledžinskas and the cellist Romualdas Kulikauskas — who were the first in then-soviet Lithuania to have reaped laurels at international competitions in Hungary (Budapest, 1959) and Belgium (Liege, 1964). Teachers at the Department of String Instruments such as violinist Prof. Saulius Sondeckis, the cellists Prof. Povilas Berkavičius, Prof. Silvija Sondeckienė and others were among the teaching staff of the Department of Chamber Ensembles during the first years of its activities. The following teachers of the Department have left an indelible mark on its creative and pedagogical activity —violinists: Prof. Petras Kunca, a member of the Vilnius Chamber Quartet; Prof. Kazimieras Kanišauskas; primarius of the Čiurlionis Quartet, Assoc. Prof. Rimantas Šiugždinis; Prof. Rusnė Mataitytė, violinist of the piano trio Kaskados; and Audronė Šarpytė; cellists: Assoc. Prof. Michailas Šenderovas, a member of the Lithuanian Quartet; Prof. Domas Svirskis; Assoc. Prof. Iminas Kučinskas; Prof. Rimantas Armonas, a member of the piano duo Armonas Uss Duo and The Armonai Trio; the lecturer Romeo Svirskis; pianists: the composer Prof. Julius Andrejevas, Jūratė Klovaitė and Violeta Tamašauskaitė-Coutaz.
Since 2019, the Department of Chamber Ensembles, together with higher music education institutions in Austria, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, offers the joint international chamber music study programme ECMAster.
The teachers of the Department of Chamber Ensembles are artists who have won national, government and various other awards. The Department devotes assiduous attention to the promotion of Lithuanian chamber music, and since 1999 an annual international competition for Lithuanian chamber music performances has been organised. The teachers of the Department have been actively involved in the organization of the Stasys Vainiūnas International Chamber Ensemble Competition, which is included in the European Alink / Argerich catalogue. The Department of Chamber Ensemble has continued a longstanding tradition of International Student Chamber Ensemble Festivals for more than half a century.
The Department is actively involved in international activities. It is a member of the ECMTA, the European Chamber Music Teachers’ Association and ECMA, the European Chamber Music Academy. The LMTA’s partners in the ECMA are higher music education institutions from Austria, Italy, the UK, Norway, France and Switzerland. The students and teachers of the Department have been vigorously involved in the Erasmus+ and Nordplus exchange programmes. Every semester, two or three prominent professors from European higher music education institutions run master’s courses for LMTA students.
Currently, over 160 students are studying at the LMTA Department of Chamber Ensemble, forming over 80 ensembles of different compositions, from duet to sextet. In Lithuania and abroad, the Department of Chamber Ensembles is represented by award-winning ensembles of students and graduates such as the string quartets Mettis, Adora, Archi Quartet, Trio Claviola, Amber Trio, and Modo; the ensembles SubtiluZ and Tutto a Dio as well as many as-yet unnamed but already impressive, creative and promising chamber ensembles.
Prepared by Prof. Rimantas Armonas, Head of the Department of Chamber Ensemble