The Banchetto Musicale early music festival came into being in the autumn of 1989. Since then, it has been held every year except 1991, when Lithuania was suffering an economic and political blockade. The festival was directed by Jūratė Mikiškaitė-Vičienė, the founder and leader of the Banchetto Musicale ensemble of Renaissance music and dance, and Darius Stabinskas took over as artistic director in 2003.

One of the regular partners of the festival is the Culture Department of Vilnius City Municipality. Despite the fact that cultural events supported by the city have recently been considerably reduced in number, Banchetto Musicale has survived as one of Vilnius’ most prestigious and important festivals.

Until recently, the Banchetto Musicale festival was the only one in Lithuania devoted to period performance. Hugely important is the festival’s educational mission of acquainting the Lithuanian audience with compositions that have never been performed in Lithuania before. Thanks to Lithuanian National Radio and Television, the entire country’s music lovers could enjoy the experience of watching and listening to many of the festival’s concerts.

Alongside the regular participants of the festival, the lithuanians Elena Čičinskaitė (lute), Darius Stabinskas (viola da gamba), the singers Edita Bagdonaitė and Nora Petročenko, the Banchetto Musicale early music and dance ensemble, the Baltic States Baroque Orchestra and the Brevis Choir and Consort, many internationally acclaimed performers have appeared at the festival, including Barokkanerne, Hans Olav Gorset (recorder) and Knut Johanesen (harpsichord) from Norway; the Kvinterna ensemble from the Czech Republic; Cantus Cölln and Ensemble 1700 from Germany; the Alia Mvsica ensemble from Spain; Amorroma, Traces and Zefiro Torna ensembles from Belgium; Eva Legene (recorder) and the Alba trio from Denmark; the cornett virtuoso William Dongois and Le Concert Brisé, Café Zimmermann and Ensemble Organum from France; the Drevnerussky Raspev choir from Russia; the Hortus Musicus, Tallinn Baroque, and Rondellus ensembles from Estonia; the ensembles Aurora, Accordone and Tetraktys, Edoardo Bellotti (organ) and Lavinia Bertotti (soprano) from Italy; Ensemble Unicorn and the Paul Hoffheimer Consort from Austria; the Ludus ensemble from Latvia; the Romeo & Juliet Choir, the Esk ensemble and the Laude Novella duo from Sweden; The City Waites, Sara Stowe (soprano), Matthew Spring (lute, viola da gamba), Stuart McCoy (lute, vihuela), Jacob Heringman (lute) and the Baroque and Renaissance dance experts Barbara Segal and Mary Collins from Great Britain.

Devoted to the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, dance and theatre, Banchetto Musicale has marked anniversaries of famous composers and has put on a number of stage productions, such as a concert-performance of Monteverdi’s opera ORFEO, which featured the famous British countertenor Nigel Rogers in the title role (1993); a 1620 Neapolitan celebration Festa a Ballo, which was performed by Hortus Musicus and the dancers of the Banchetto Musicale ensemble also in Estonia and Finland (1993); a dramatised banquet A FIFTEENTH-CENTURY FEAST, staged by the Banchetto Musicale ensemble and the choreographer Lieven Baert from Belgium (1994); the Lithuanian premiere of Biber’s Requiem (1994); Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas shown at the Grand Duke’s Palace (1995) and a ballet to Telemann’s Water Music (1999), both directed by the British choreographer and costume designer Jane Gingell; a production entitled FESTA VENEZIANA in the Italian commedia dell’arte style (2000); a dramatised programme VIVA ESPANA of Spanish Renaissance music (2002), prepared with the help of Dirkjan Horringa from Holland; the Euroradio concerts from the Discoveries series FROM THE BRAUNSBERG ORGAN TABLATURE (2004) and MARCO SCACCHI: A PUPIL AND A MASTER (2007); a production of the madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso by Orazio Vecchi, staged in the Lėlė Puppet Theatre, Vilnius (2007).

The festival has also put on a number of masterclasses, by Eva Legene, the harpsichordist Ketils Haugzand, Nigel Rogers, Hans Olav Gorset, Edorado Bellotti, Claudine Ansermet, Alexander Puliaev and Ulrike Heider.

Contact person – Darius Stabinskas, darius@bmfestival.lt