• People’s Artist of the USSR
• Recipient of the State Prize of the USSR
Founder of the acclaimed Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and head of the Orchestra of the State Hermitage, maestro Saulus Sondeckis tours throughout the world, participates in major international festivals, has conducted the most prominent symphony orchestras and is a jury member of various international competitions.
The international press has invariably commented on his supreme professionalism, refined musical tastes and artistic bravery in conjunction with his attitude to the finest orchestral performing traditions.
Saulus Sondeckis was born in 1928 in Shiauliai (Lithuania). He began his performing career as a violinist. Graduated from the Vilnius Conservatoire (violin class of Alexander Livont, 1952) and completed a post-graduate study at the Moscow Conservatoire in 1960. In 1963 he spent six months under the tutelage of French conductor Igor Markevitch and his assistant Otto-Werner Mueller.
In 1955 he became Director of the String Quartet of the Vilnius Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis School of Arts. This ensemble won the Gold Medal for youth orchestras as the International Herbert von Karajan Foundation Competition (Berlin, 1976).
In 1960 he founded and remains the Director of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. At the VI Berlin Contemporary Music Biennale in 1977 the orchestra and its Director were awarded the critics’ prize “For the Best Interpretation”. In 1985 Alfred Schnittke composed his Concerto Grosso No 3 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ensemble.
Under the baton of Saulus Sondeckis the orchestra has won widespread international acclaim. Renowned musicians that have collaborated with the orchestra include Yehudi Menuhin, Oleg Kagan, Natalia Gutman, Vladimir Spivakov, Gidon Kremer, Tatiana Grindenko, Vladimir Krainev, Leopoldas Digrys, David Geringas, Karine Georgian, Mikhail Khomitser, Timofei Dokschizer and Virgilijus Kęstutis Noreika among others.
In the 1975–76 season under Saulus Sondeckis the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra was a partner of Professor Tatiana Nikolaeva, giving the Moscow premiere of a series of twelve keyboard concerti by Bach for one, two, three and four soloists with orchestra.
In 1988 Saulus Sondeckis became director of the St Petersburg Camerata orchestra, which included graduates and students of the Leningrad Conservatoire. In a very short period the ensemble achieved extremely high professional and artistic successes and in 1994 was awarded the status of “Orchestra of the State Hermitage”.
As a Guest Conductor, Saulus Sondeckis has appeared with numerous European ensembles including the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonic (Honoured Ensemble of Russia), the Russian National Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Belgique, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Orchestre National de Radio France, the Klagenfurt Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Philharmonic, the Bydgoszcz Symphony Orchestra (Poland), the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestras of Lausanne and Patra (Greece) among others.
Maestro Sondeckis is a regular participant at major music festivals. He has directed the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, founded by Leonard Bernstein. At the Salzburg Festival in 1988 he conducted the ballet Othello (to music by Schnittke and Pärt) featuring John Neumeier’s company. In 1994 he conducted Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Hermitage Theatre.
Saulus Sondeckis has been the recipient of numerous titles, awards and prizes. The most prestigious include 1st prize and Gold Medal at the Herbert von Karajan Competition (1963), the State Prize of the USSR (1987), People’s Artist of the USSR (1980) and Professor of the Lithuanian Academy of Music (since 1977). He was a co-founder of the programme The Hermitage Academy of Music and is President of the Hermitage Academy of Music Foundation (since 1997).