Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich played a very special part in LCO history.
For the first time the Orchestra and Maestro Rostropovich toured together in 1990. Next time they met in January 1991, two days after the tragic events in Vilnius, when people died defending Lithuania’s Independence. The Orchestra played funeral music to honour the victims and their families, and early next morning departed to Madrid. In his luggage Saulius Sondeckis brought some photos and footage of the events in Vilnius, and Maestro Rostropovich himself was giving the copies of those photos to the journalists during the press conference. The footage was shown on Spanish TV. All concerts on that tour the great cellist was ending with Bach’s Sarabande from the Fifth Suite for cello solo – the same he played in front of the thousands of people during the fall of the Berlin wall – only this time it was a tribute to the victims in Vilnius. The LCO and Maestro Rostropovich donated 15,000DM for the wounded and the victims’ families, and the Orchestra flew home laden with humanitarian help and medicine.
The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra performed at the opening of 1992 International Festival “Old and new ways to India”, marking 500 years of discovering America. It was a grand scale Festival with concerts staged in St Peter’s Basilica and Coliseum in Rome, Acropolis in Athens, Hermitage in St Petersburg and old Incas town in Peru. The Artistic Director of the Festival was Lord Menuhin and invited celebrity participants included Luciano Berio, Loren Maasel, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Placido Domingo, Martha Argerich to name a few. The opening of the Festival took place in Santa Cecilia’s Hall in Rome in front of specially invited heads of several countries (including Lithuanian leader at the time V. Landsbergis), and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra was performing that night with Maestro Rostropovich as a soloist.