A festival named after Thomas Mann, the grandmaster of German literature, that is held in Nida every mid-summer, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. One of the secrets to its longevity comes through the loyalty to tradition of the like-minded people who organise the event. It is this loyalty to tradition that reassures us to keep up with the challenges of the pandemic: as every year, on July 10-17, 2021, a wide range of fine art and contemporary art exhibitions, music, word and cinema programs await the resort’s audience.
Over the quarter of the century, the Thomas Mann Festival has evolved to be much more than a summer entertainment for holidaymakers – not only for of its intellectual content, but also because preparatory works for an upcoming festival start a year in advance, right after the completion of a current festival. Specifically for this festival, a piece of academic music is commissioned. We are not afraid to include pieces of classical music that are rarely played, and later, performers are glad to include those pieces in their repertoires performed in Lithuanian and foreign concert halls. The cinema program includes films of German, Polish and Lithuanian cinematographers that are highly rated by the experts and the audience alike, besides, we hold live meetings between the audience and film makers. During the 25 year-span, the festival’s word programme was able to invite the most prominent European personalities – politicians, intellectuals, researchers, artists – who were not indifferent to the issues raised by the festival.
According to the organiser of the event, Dr. Lina Motuzienė, Director of the Thomas Mann Cultural Centre, this year, similarly to the last year, the organisers plan to closely monitor the country’s epidemiological situation and are ready to implement all recommendations as proposed by experts, ensuring the safety of the participants and the audience.
“We are getting ready to receive everyone, ensuring safety and warm welcome, who are planning a holiday or a short stay in Neringa during this season of cultural events, restricted by the pandemic; we are welcoming everyone who missed discussions, exhibitions and concerts”, – emphasised Dr. Lina Motuzienė. As always, a week-length festival will invite to three different events every day: concerts of classical music, openings of exhibitions, discussions and literature readings as well as cinema programme.
The majestic chords of the festival’s opening concert will be sounded in the Nida Lutheran Church on July 10, Saturday, 7 p.m. The works of W.A. Mozart and A. Dvořákas will be perform by an ensemble of Lithuanian virtuoso musicians performing in this country and abroad, and who specifically assembled for this event, including winds, cello and double bass.
The festival will provide opportunities for the music lovers to meet foreign musicians: the singer Benjamin Appl (Baritone, Germany), and the piano player Simon Lepper (Great Britain) who are coming to perform in the event. The debut programme includes a performance of two musicians who work and create in Austria: the violin player Wonji Kim-Ozim and the piano player Irma Kliauzaitė. The audience will get to hear a concert of probably the most famous piano duo of this country: the winners of the Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Prize Rūta Rikterė and Zbignev Ibelhaupt.
An exceptional project has been prepared for the closing event of the festival which will be held a week later, on July 17, Saturday, 8 p.m. Specifically for the festival, the Chamber Choir Aidija lead by Romualdas Gražinis together with instrumentals and soloists rehearse a Baroque Music masterpiece – opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.
This year, continuing the thematic cycle of „Cultural Landscapes“, the festival will focus the attention of the participants and the audience on the phenomenon of coastlines. Following the observation prof. dr. Ruth Leiserowitz, a member of the curatorium, who are shaping the programme of the festival, the concept of „cultural landscapes“ is often associated with cities, because cultural life takes place and concentrates in cities. However, because of that, we, people of the Baltic sea countries, often turn our backs, undeservingly, to the sea, and underrate the coastline, which is a point of elemental dialogue that invites us to see further into the distance, towards new inspiring opportunities and goals.
These insights will be a point of inspiration for the word programme, which includes the following participants: playwright, screenwriter and film director Marius Ivaškevičius, historian, political scientist and journalist Sergej Medvedev (Russia), historian, ecocide and genocide researcher prof. Ewa Domanska (Poland), Monsignor Florian Schuller (Germany), other Lithuanian and foreign intellectuals. The guests will be joined by the chairwoman of the Thomas Mann Cultural Centre’s Curatorium dr. Irena Vaišvilaitė and other members of the curatorium dr. R. Leiserowitz, dr. Nijolė Strakauskaitė, assoc. prof. dr. Aurimas Švedas, poet and translator Antanas Gailius, author dr. Laurynas Katkus, winners of the festival’s essay competition for the young people which has been undergoing now. The events of the word programme will be taking place in the Thomas Mann Memorial and the Curonian Spit History Museums; in addition to the discussions, the audience will be able to listen to reading from the Thomas Mann works.
The art programme will call to a new outlook in analysing the past of the Art Colonies: the exhibition of the curator Irmantė Šarakauskienė „Women Artists in Art Colonies on the Baltic Sea Cost” will be opened in the Curonian Spit History Museum; the opening ceremony will be followed by a meeting with a community of artists from the Vilnius Academy Art Colony in Nida who are continuing the art colony tradition in Nida.