Monday, January 4, 2010

About the Conductor

Many people have asked if I will be conducting the opera, and this is a good question, as many composers are also active conductors. The answer is no, but I am happy to elaborate that answer by telling you a little about who will be conducting. I never actually met him during my time in Vilnius, but I certainly remember his performances.

Ričardas Šumila is a young Lithuanian conductor originally from Kaunas, the interwar capital and the second largest city in Lithuania, and began studying music when he was five years old. By the time he was in the 8th grade, after gaining a solid foundation at the piano and in music theory and history, he was ready to begin conducting as well as composing. After studying conducting with Audronė Marcinkevičiutė and composition with Algirdas Brilius and Zita Bružaitė, in 2003 he graduated from the Juozas Naujalis High School for Music and entered the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater (LMTA) in Vilnius.

In Vilnius, he studied choral conducting with Povilas Gylys and orchestral conducting with the renowned Gintaras Rinkevičius, and it wasn't long before he won the LMTA's prestigious Senate Scholarship in recognition of his outstanding work and his commitment to concert performances.

In the spring of 2007, Šumila finished his undergraduate studies by winning 1st place in the Jaronimas Kačinskas Young Conductors' Competition and in the summer of that same year entered the master's program at the LMTA, continuing his studies with Rinkevičius.

The last couple of years have been especially busy for Šumila. Beginning at the end of 2008 with his work leading the rehearsals of the Pucinni opera Gianni Schicchi, he went on to conduct several opera and musical theater performances throughout 2009, from such well known works as Carmen and Sweeney Todd, to new works such as Rita Mačiliūnaitė's opera, Nebūti ar Nebūti, which he premiered at last year's NOA Festival.

He has been equally active in chamber and orchestral concerts around Vilnius. In the spring of 2009, he conducted both the LMTA Symphony Orchestra as well as the Lithuanian National Philharmonic, including the world premiere of Rūta Vitkauskaitė's Stabai. Also in 2009, he led a unique chamber ensemble for a project titled "Neįprastos istorijos" (Unusual Stories) that consisted of several performances of chamber music and which resulted in a permanent relationship with the ensemble under the new name "InSpe" (pictured below with Šumila).

At only 25 years old, Šumila already has a promising career as a conductor and I am incredibly excited that he so enthusiastically agreed to conduct the premiere of Julius.

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