Ventura Music Festival – Ventura CA

MC22 – New Ideas Chamber Orchestra – NICO

From Executive Director Susan Scott

Dear Friends,

The New Ideas Chamber Orchestra – NICO – is a young string ensemble helmed by the charismatic Gediminas Gelgotas who serves as founding artistic director, conductor, performer and composer. Founded in Lithuania in 2006, the group has drawn raves internationally ever since, often described as “the modern chamber music equivalent of rock stars” and almost always cited for “captivating, highly original” performances.

With support from the Lithuanian World Arts Council, VMF had the privilege of presenting NICO’s U.S. debut in May 2019 as part of our 25th anniversary season. They were – and created – a sensation. “Captivating and highly original” indeed. They choreograph their performances! Female violinists in long gowns and 5” heels perform brilliantly while moving around the stage. The audience loved it. Multiple ovations. A real memory-maker to be sure.

While NICO’s diverse repertoire includes the classical masterpieces, they take them “off the beaten track,” mixing classical with pop or “new music” idioms to reveal beauty with a new edge. NICO also performs Gediminas’ original compositions, of course, and these innovative works, performed in the dynamic fashion described earlier, are engaging younger and new audiences for classical music while retaining (and engaging anew) older audiences.

The piece Gediminas chose for MC22 – “Higher Energy” – is one of his compositions. Alas, no sensational choreography in this one – but I think you’ll see why descriptors like exciting, glam, rock star, original, dramatic and the like figure into NICO reviews. In his greeting, Gediminas talks about the work and his “musical language;” about the challenges of performing as Europe and the world start to open from Covid; and how he and his NICO colleagues are also finding it a time for inspiration.

If you attended their concert last year, I know you’re happy to see them here. If you didn’t, I hope you enjoy the introduction.