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Peterborough

‘A Lithuanian Christmas’

Monadnock Chorus welcomes composer Kristina Vasiliauskaite

The Monadnock Chorus is going global with their annual Christmas concert this year, with “A Lithuanian Christmas.”

The featured piece for this year’s concert will be “Magnificat,” a contemporary piece sung in Latin. And Kristina Vasiliauskaite, the composer, has traveled from Lithuania to be in the audience on Saturday and Sunday to hear her piece performed for the first time by an American choral group.

“It’s an honor to have her come,” said Monadnock Chorus Artistic Director Jim Sharrock in an interview Monday. “She’s something of a hero in Lithuanian cultural circles.”

That won’t be the end, however, with selections from “Dainos Chorui” by Jeronimas Kacinskas, a Lithuanian native who fled the country when his life was threatened by the Soviet Army, and taught for many years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The songs are settings of poems by notable Lithuanian writers.

Kristina Vasiliauskaite will not be the only Lithuanian native actively involved in the Monadnock Chorus production. Soprano soloist Jurate Svedaite-Waller collaborated with the chorus in 2011 performances of the John Rutter “Magnificat,” and she will be returning this year to participate in the chorus’ nod to her home country. Svedaite-Waller teaches voice on the faculty of Connecticut College in New London, Conn.

It was actually Svedaite-Waller’s participation that gave Sharrock the idea to center this year’s concert around Lithuanian music. In the past, the chorus has done themed concerts, and this seemed to fit the mold, Sharrock said. Half the concert will focus on classical Lithuanian music, while the other half will focus on Lithuanian folk tunes and carols.

Sharrock noted that the variety gives an idea of the breadth of Lithuanian music, and adding folk tunes allowed him to incorporate several elements that are more closely linked with the folk tradition.

A Lithuanian dance troupe, Samburis, which has performed throughout New England, will be featured in colorful traditional costumes, performing traditional carols and dances. And the chorus will have a backing of a traditional stringed kankles, a Lithuanian plucked string instrument in the zither family. Simona Smimova, a kankles soloist visiting Boston this year from Lithuania for advanced study at Berklee, will be performing with the chorus.

After the chorus performs in Peterborough, they will take the show on the road and perform in Boston at a Lithuanian church, where Kacinskas, the composer of “Dainos Chorui,” performs as a organist.

Performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Peterborough Town House. Tickets can be ordered at www.Monadnock-Chrous.org. Seats are $20 apiece with reduced prices for groups of six or more. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the website, Steele’s Stationers in Peterborough or Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough. For further information, call Herb Motley at 617-943-5657.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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