Sunday, 17 March 2013

Nemuno Dukros (Daughters of Nemunas)

Uršulė Juciene, Anelė Urnevičienė,
Birutė Budrienė, Teresa Gasiunienė

Kur bėga Šešupė, kur Nemunas teka
Tai mūsų tėvynė, graži Lietuva

(Where the Šešupė runs, where the Neman flows That's our homeland, beautiful Lithuania)
Almost every Lithuanian can recite these words by heart. It is so well known that it is treated as an unofficial national anthem.

The Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Women from 1961 organised an annual “Šupini” (mixed concert).  The women wanted to strength these concerts with Lithuanian songs and so a women’s vocal quartet was formed.  It was led by Anelė Urnevičienė.

The quartet first performed on May 15th 1965.  The group comprised of Birutė Budrienė, Uršulė Juciene, Teresa Gasiunienė (soprano), and Anelė Urnevičienė (Alto).  They were accompanied on the piano by Nemira Masiulytė Stapleton.

The group was a great success and so began to perform at festivals, literature evenings, gatherings, national festivals, at Baltic gatherings and at the Baltic homes.

On occasion they became a quintet with soprano Agota Kaminskienė. On other occasions N. Urmerienė and N. Vitkunienė joined them.

In 1971 they released an album of 16 songs, the record was called “Rankšluostiniausiu Lietuva Tėvyne”. They chose the name of Nemuno Dukros (Daughters of the Nemunas).  Performing on the album were members Birutė Budrienė, Agota Kaminskiene, Uršulė Jucienė, Anelė Urnevičienė The first side was accompanied Rasa Kubilius and the second  by Nemira Masiulytė. J Česna produced it, the covering photo was taken by A. Budrys, cover design by Pranas Pušdešrys and Administrator was P. Gasiunas, advisor was soloist A. Gučiuvienė.  The record was launched at the Lithuanian Catholic centre on February 22, 1972.

At various times the group was accompanied by Nemira Masiulyte-Stapleton, Rasa Kubiliutė-Mauragienė, Maria Dumčiuviene, R. Ziukelytė, Svietynas Kubilius, R. Pranckunaitė, S. Vasilauskienė, Dalia Kaminskienė, Father A Savickas, R. Kubaitienė, Algis Laurintaitis, and organ player J. Ramanauskas.

In 1975 Uršulė Jucienė left the group and Saulenė Pusdešrienė joined.  It was again a quartet which remained until 1981.  During that year Anelė Urnevičienė left and Saulenė Pusdešrienė became leader. In 1984 two young singers joined, Judita Nekrošius and Zinaida Vencius. Now a quintet they sang where they were asked and required.

On 30 November 1985 at the Lithuanian Catholic Centre a concert was held to celebrate the 20th year of the group.  Birutė Budrienė, Agota Kaminskienė, Judita Nekrosienė, Zinaida Vencienė sang with Saulenė Pusdešrienė as Manager.  Also performed was Sietynas Kubilius who gave a recital.  While the singers rested their husbands poet Kazimieras Kaminskas recited a poem and Pranas Pusdešris spoke.  Pranas also made the stage decorations. The concert was choreographed by Elena Varnienė.

In 1986 the choir was invited to perform at Melbourne’s Lithuanian catholic Women’s 35th anniversary.  They were accompanied by Zita Prašmutaitė.

Another Nemuno Dukros concert was given on December 9th 1989 with the same quintet as previously, the same manager and accompanist.  Twenty eight songs were sung, the first half was called Nemuno kloniais (Nemunas hollows) and Tėvynės laukais (fields of homeland).  The second half ‘Ilgesio dainos’ (songs of longing) and Lietuva širdyje nešu (Lithuania, I carry you in my heart).

Pranas Pušdesris wrote of them
Gyvuokite, dainuokite ‘Nemuno Dukros’, išeiviškos nostalgijos pagimdytos, ją sugebančios perduoti savo dainose, kad mes vis giliau pasinėrę svetimybių jūroje, nepamirštume Nemuno ir Tėvynės, aušros nušviečiamais keliais. 

Following her husband’s death in 1991 Saulenė Pusdešrienė hesitated to continue. Birutė Budrienė is the only singer who has sung since the group was conceived. 

Nemuno dukros sing songs of longing, they celebrated Lithuania’s independence but in their heart the pain of living over 50 years without being able to return to their homeland still exists.

The daughters of Nemunas sang well in to the 2000’s.
Uršulė Juciene, Anelė Urnevičienė,
Birutė Budrienė, Teresa Gasiunienė
Accompanied by Rasa Kubiliute


1.  Nemunas is the largest river in Lithuania.  It flows through Lithuania before draining into the Curonian Lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea at Klaipėda.  It is the northern border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast in its lower reaches.  

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