On 3-7 July, the traditional songs, melodies and instruments of various cultures will be played for the eighth time in Šiauliai. The biennial international folk contest-festival “The Flower of the Sun” is set to bring together representatives of traditional music culture from 11 countries: Chile, India, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
Zenonas Ripinskis, the member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of International Dance Festivals (FIDAF) and the event director, says that “The Flower of the Sun” is the only festival with such a large number of participating countries not only in Lithuania but also in the Baltic states.
During this year’s festival, there will be more than 30 events, most of them will be held in different places of Šiauliai city – boulevard, Šiauliai State Drama Theatre, shopping and entertainment centre “Saulės Miestas,” Šiauliai Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, to name but a few.
“The Flower of the Sun” is a competitive festival. In the two-day contest, Lithuanian and foreign ensembles and performers will compete in even six categories: traditional folk dance groups, choreographed arrangements of folk dance groups, instrumental music groups, traditional singing groups, solo vocalists and solo instrumentalists. Participants will be evaluated by international experts from Spain, Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania, who will be chaired by the Lithuanian ethnomusicologist Dr Loreta Sungailienė. Dance performances by foreign and Lithuanian ensembles for the contest will be presented on 4 July at the Radviliškis Culture Centre, whereas the contest for musicians and singers will take place on 5 July at Šiauliai State Drama Theatre.
The “garland” of events of “The Flower of the Sun” will start on 3 July with a festive parade of the participants down the boulevard and the opening concert on the Great Stage of the festival. The five-day festival will abound with concerts, parties, folklore presentations of different countries, while on 6-7 July, the boulevard will be flooded with the uproar of folk artists and craftsmen’s fair.
An exceptional event of the festival is the traditional Night of Art and Culture under “The Flower of the Sun,” which will take place on 5 July. In the boulevard, the city residents and guests will find themselves enjoying the colourful festivities lasting until midnight with sounds of music performed by international musicians, songs, dance lessons, poetry readings, line dance performances, puppet theatre and workshops, exhibitions, various artistic actions, game presentations and other activities. The cafés and restaurants situated in the boulevard will be open to welcome everyone.
On July 6, the Coronation of King Mindaugas and the Day of the National Hymn will be commemorated by a special project, “Lithuania – a Jewel in the Crown of World Cultures”. Foreign folk musicians will spread to Northern Lithuania and participate in festive events together with local communities. They will perform in Šiauliai, Akmenė, Radviliškis, Kelmė, Pakruojis, Pasvalys and Telšiai districts. Meanwhile, in Šiauliai, Lithuanian performers will present their festive program on the Great Stage of the festival. The event will include singing-together with ethnomusicologist Dr Loreta Sungailienė and Lithuanian folklore ensembles; the concert by the multi-instrumentalist, Saulius Petreikis and his ensemble “World Orchestra;” singing of the national anthem of Lithuania, followed by the concert of expressive folk-rock band “Žalvarinis”.
On 7 July, the last day of the festival, the concert “To Human and God” will traditionally attract folk, religious and academic music lovers to Šiauliai Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, filling its vaults with sounds of various nations, authors and musical instruments. The 8th International Folk Contest-Festival “The Flower of the Sun” will end with a final gala concert of performers from all participating countries in the boulevard. At the end of the concert, the winner ensemble of the Grand Prix will be solemnly announced.
“The Flower of the Sun” is organised every two years by the public organisation “The Balts’ Centre” and the partners – Šiauliai City Municipality and Šiauliai University. Since the first festival in 2005, the event has been attended by folk performers from more than 40 countries. “The Flower of the Sun” is included into the official list of events by the International Organisation of Folk Art IOV (under UNESCO) and the Federation of International Dance Festivals (FIDAF). This is one of the largest folk festivals in the Baltic countries. Over fourteen years it has earned recognition both in Lithuania and outside its borders. The main sponsors of the festival are Šiauliai City Municipality and the Lithuanian Council for Culture.
According to Darius Daknys, the artistic director of the festival, the whole event will stand out for its diverse and rich program, which will undoubtedly allow every visitor to experience many unforgettable moments and great emotions.
Photo: Andrius Aleksandravičius