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The Singing Revolution

  • Wisconsin State Capitol 2 East Main Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Restored Lithuania  &  The Singing Revolution

Madison Vilnius Sister Cities, Inc. and The Honorary Lithuanian Consulate in Wisconsin celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of Lithuania as a modern, independent nation with an afternoon and evening of activities focused on the power of song and the critical role it  has played in recent history.

In 1918, near the end of World War I, Lithuania declared its independence from the Russian Empire after over 120 years of Czarist rule. Lithuanians spent the next 22 years establishing and building a country – creating a democratic government, an educational system, even a national song festival. But World War II brought foreign powers to Lithuanian soil again and with it, a Soviet occupation for the next 50 years.  Memory of and hope for an independent Lithuania stayed alive.

 Lithuanians gather at Cathedral Square in Vilnius during The Singing Revolution 

Lithuanians gather at Cathedral Square in Vilnius during The Singing Revolution 

In the 1980s, a growing public resistance movement – in which hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians participated – used deft political strategy, deliberate and collective nonviolent action, and the power of song to successfully achieve independence from the USSR. Lithuania was the first of the Soviet republics to do so.  It was quickly joined by its Baltic neighbors, Latvia and Estonia, who share this story.

The Baltic countries’ widespread use of song – folksongs, hymns, rock & roll, poetic anthems and choral compositions – is regarded as a key element in the success of the independence movement, 1987-1991, that has been called The Singing Revolution.   Dr. Grazina Miniotaite a political scientist who chronicled the movement, wrote:

This struggle is undoubtedly one of the brightest pages in the history of nonviolent action.

 The Singing Revolution is known as the movement that regained and renewed Lithuanian independence.

 Wisconsin State Capitol, First Floor Rotunda

Wisconsin State Capitol, First Floor Rotunda

The Singing Revolution Program

The Saturday, May 12th activities begin at 1:00 pm in the beautiful Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda, and feature a contemporary choral cantata titled The Singing Revolution, by Kestutis Daugirdas and Rugile Kazlauskaite.  The program is free and open to all.

Madison Vilnius Sister Cities, Inc. is delighted to welcome Kestutis Daugirdas to Madison where Sostines Balsai (Capital Voices) and their guests will perform The Singing Revolution under his direction.  The ensemble includes singers from Madison, Milwaukee, Baraboo, Deerfield, Waupaca, Minnesota and Maryland and choir members from Chicago’s Dainava and Kansas City’s Menulio Sviesa.   

The performance will take place on the Rotunda’s First Floor under the building’s majestic dome.  Program guides will be distributed containing the cantata’s lyrics in both Lithuanian and English as well as historical background for each of the five movements.  The cantata will be sung in Lithuanian.

At the cantata’s conclusion, about 1:45 pm, everyone is invited to move to another location in the Capitol for an interview with Kestutis Daugirdas.  Ample time will also be allowed for people to meet the composer and the singers.  This portion of the day’s activities will conclude at about 3 pm.

For a list of resources to find out more about the power of song, nonviolent action and The Singing Revolution click on The Singing Revolution Program button.