Ąžuolynas, a truly Kaunastic Wind Orchestra

18 November, 2021, KFOC staff | Interviews, News, Topic of the month

There is more than one jubilee in Kaunas in November and the number of letters “ą” in the title suggests which anniversary Kaunas Wind Orchestra Ąžuolynas will be celebrating. The 60th anniversary concert was given a similar – only a more musical – name: Ąąąąąąžuolissimo! With the rising glissando, musicians, and chief conductor Giedrius Vaznys invite the public to the Kaunas State Philharmonic on November 20. You can learn more about the program by clicking this link. And now, a short story of glittering copper told by Concert institution Kauno Santaka Art and Culture Project Manager Zita Bružaitė.

Who had the idea to establish a wind orchestra in Kaunas?

In the 1960s in Lithuania, everyone seemed to be obsessed with orchestras. Trimitas Orchestra had already been established in Vilnius by then, so other cities also wanted to have orchestras of their own. Therefore, wind orchestras of Kaunas, Šiauliai and Panevėžys appeared at almost the same time.

Kaunas Wind Orchestra Ąžuolynas was founded in 1961 next to the Vytautas Park of recreation and culture. It would be difficult to trace the very beginning, who exactly put things into motion. Instead, it was a universal idea that floats in the air and is caught at the same time by like-minded enthusiasts. Of course, the orchestra would not have been established without the blessing of the heads of the city.

The name of the orchestra is very Kaunas-like; what is the story behind it?

We have completely likened Ąžuolynas Orchestra with its name; however, it did not come about immediately, only in 1971. The origin of the name is certainly not difficult to explain. The orchestra primarily performed in Vytautas Park at the time, which is part of Ąžuolynas (Kaunas oak grove). So, we can definitely say that the name of the orchestra, which has become the musical face of the city, was born at the very heart of Kaunas, in Ąžuolynas Park. We have this authentic “made in Kaunas” name, making the orchestra’s hometown easily recognizable.

What is the musician turnover in the ever-young orchestra?

The change of musicians in Ąžuolynas is not that frequent. This is probably due to well-established friendships, the atmosphere of the ensemble, and finally, the variety of musical content and concerts. After all, in recent years, Ąžuolynas has realized many exciting ideas: from performances in open spaces to ambitious concert programs with foreign soloists.

We refer to the members of the orchestra, who joined the orchestra before the Lithuanian Independence and are still part of it to this day, as veterans. We are glad that we still have such experienced “oaks” with us.

Which historical events of Kaunas city have become the most important in the list of Ąžuolynas performances during the 60 years?

It is difficult to single out one because Ąžuolynas has been accompanying all essential events in Kaunas for more than fifty years. Still, the orchestra’s musicians of the older generation claim that perhaps the most extraordinary concert took place on the first February 16 after the restoration of independence. The inspector of the orchestra Remigijus Žarėnas (clarinet) and the veteran of the orchestra Robertas Žukauskas (trumpet) unanimously note that the events of that time and the finally independent Lithuania was like a miracle that provided exceptional emotional value to everyone.

The most unexpected concert venues?

Wet concert venues are always unexpected for Ąžuolynas [laughs]. Musicians and their instruments really don’t like rain. But among the truly strange, original, and somewhat extreme places, we could mention performance on the roof of the Jesuit monastery, on the frozen Lake Sartai, in the open bus, in the windows of buildings or just in the courtyards of Kaunas apartment blocks.

Dream concert venue!

Unambiguously, a new Kaunas concert hall. And we hope that in addition to a concert venue, it will become a stable place for Ąžuolynas’ rehearsals; so that we would finally have our real home!

Is there music that is impossible to arrange for a wind orchestra?

Nothing is impossible for talented masters. And if we put our orchestra with a good arranger, the result will always be mind-blowing… in a good way.