Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday at Our Lady of Vilnius: Recounted by Me

Last night's reception in the basement dancehall of Our Lady of Vilnius featured Veronika Povilioniene un-wimpled and Blezdinga in their street clothes. Ms. Povilioniene immediately became my idol, only in part because I, too, am an alto and have the same haircut. I was inspired by her warmth, vitality and skill.

As I arrived, the group was leading a group of small, enthusiastic children in singing, dancing and pantomime games. The adults ringed the dance floor clapping and singing along, sometimes jumping up to join the fun. A tiny blonde party animal in a striped shirt danced and clapped with contagious exuberance. I was touched to think that my father probably did the same thing at the same age in this very room.

After the children's games, the ensemble performed a set. It was my first exposure to Lithuanian folk music and I loved it. From my frame of reference, I could only liken certain elements to Sacred Harp, sea chanties and Bulgarian Women's Radio Choir. The audience sang along and swayed with the tide of powerful rhythm.

After the final ovation after the "mini-concert", dancing began accompanied by accordion and drum. Lithuanians and others in all sorts of attire, from native dress to proto-punk two-stepped, twirled,clapped, bowed and curtsied.

Like most things that happen here, it was old, it was modern and it was timeless.

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