Neringa residents and guests of the resort witnessed a moving ceremony at the Mary’s Christian Help Church in Nida on Monday morning. The former President of the Republic Valdas Adamkus was handed in a regalia of the Honorary Citizen of Neringa.

Neringa has always been a favourite spot of Lithuania for the President. He has served as patron of the International Thomas Mann festival for almost 20 years now, and many times took part in discussions programme of the festival.

According to Valdas Adamkus, the humanistic ideals fostered by the festival are very important and especially needed nowadays; the fans of the festival who keep on returning to Nida every year from Lithuania and abroad reassure that there is “a chance for conversation, dialogue, and tolerance”.

The international feast of arts entered the Curonian Spit this Saturday evening for the 23rdtime now, inviting to discuss about homeland, a topic relevant for everyone. Welcoming speech by Valdas Adamkus was a meaningful introduction to an opening event of the festival at Nida’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“23 years seem like a short period during state or nation’s history or, moreover, human history. However, this period was full of events and changes that were followed by hope. It seemed that there will be more self-esteem and understanding, it looked like that we will be able to overcome conflicts, that people will finally realise that the only possible language of our co-existence is the language of respect, tolerance and listening to each other. Unfortunately, it still remains more in a realm of hopes than reality. […]

Does our homeland Europe really provide everyone with a safe and dignified existence in a safe and dignified homeland?” – rhetorically asked the President, referring to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

He urged to listen attentively to Thomas Mann’s words, who speaks as a witness of his times, and sends a message to us all now, because the founding principles of his creation and life were respect towards person, human freedoms, respect towards variety of way to live one’s life and exist as a nation. “When brotherly nations are offended, we neither may remain silent, nor indifferent”, – emphasised Valdas Adamkus and thanked everyone, who contributed in sustaining memory of Thomas Mann.

The theme of “Homelands of Europe” was dramatically continued by a musical performance during the opening event. The famous Austrian baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, laureate of the Grammy Award, professor of Salzburg “Mozarterum” university with a colleague from “Mozarterum”, a piano performer born in Nida, Gaiva Bandzinaite, immersed the public in the search of spiritual homeland by two famous Austrian composers who lived in two different eras. 

A favourite among festival’s fans Franz Schubert (1797-1828) in a way became a commentator for never before performed during the festival Ernst Krenek (1900-1991). Attention was raised by an unusual dialogue of the two composers and also by exceptional mastery and mesmerism of the performers. About 20 years ago, Wolfgang Holzmair who seldom perform nowadays, meticulously arranged and perfectly polished this unique programme of songs.

Guests of the festival will be invited to another exception recital in the Evangelical Lutheran church on 14 July evening. It will be for the first time that a voice of one of the most charming Lithuanian tenors Edgaras Montvidas will sound under the church vaults. The singer, accompanies by a British piano player Simon Lepper, will perform a programme of selected arias and songs. 

Other Monday events also are worth-wile delaying one’s swim in the sea. For the first time a representative of Thomas Mann brother’s family, his grandson Jindrich Mann, a director and writer raised in Czech Republic will invite into a dialogue session at the terrace of the Thomas Mann museum. 

Right after this meeting, an opening of an art exhibition will take place in the Curonian spit museum. Here will be exhibited aquarelle and photography works of two Nida Colony of Artists members, sisters Anna and Helene Michelau, contained in private collections.  Many of the works of these women were known to us only from the titles in old art catalogues.

The day will end by a show of Hans Karl Breslauer 1924 silent movie “The City without Jews”. This work survived the destruction by Nazis by a miracle, having collected pieces of the film throughout the world and reconstructed them into a whole movie. The musical accompaniment for the movie was specifically composed for the festival by sound and media artist Thomas Köner, who will perform live during the opening night.

Please take notice that all cinema nights were relocated to Nida Community House (Taikos str. 17)

Sponsor of the Festival: Lithuanian Council for Culture.