The IŠ ARTI festival was born in 1997 out of the desire to promote the work of Kaunas-based composers and encourage relationships between Lithuanian musicians from different regions. Gradually, the modest event grew into a solid annual showcase of modern music, featuring more or less new symphonies, dances, psalms, concertos, rhapsodies, suites, conversations and lectureson history.
At present, the idea of the IŠ ARTI festival is to get acquainted, at close quarters, with Lithuanian and foreign musical trends and processes, which embrace local and foreign composers and performers of all generations. The initiators of Lithuanian premieres in the festival have been, among others, the violinist and conductor Vilhelmas Čepinskis, the pianist Lina Krėpštaitė, the Kaunas String Quartet, the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, and many performers from the capital city of Vilnius, including solo performers, chamber ensembles, and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra. Thanks to several years of collaboration with the Lithuanian Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, the IŠ ARTI festival has hosted such performers as the Tallinn String Quartet (Estonia), Antyphodes (Switzerland), the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet (Sweden), the Penderecki String Quartet and the Ergo Ensemble (Canada), Harmonies of the World (Ukraine), the Ebony Quartet (Belgium), the Amstel Quartet (Holland), and the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (Russia). The festival has featured many foreign composers, including Peter Vasks (Latvia), the multi-instrumentalist Klaus Burger (Germany), the composer of electronic music Alvi Curran (USA), Bernd Franke (Germany), Oleg Paiberdin (Russia), Paul Dirmeikis (France), the creator of sound sculptures Hans van Koolwijk (Holland), the Slovenski tolkani project (Slovenia), and the KamerYouth Choir (Latvia).
The IŠ ARTI festival does not confine itself to elite music intended for a small circle of experts. On the contrary, it strives to get closer to the listener, composer and performer, to attract audiences of various age groups and with different backgrounds, and to help contemporary music listeners develop their musical tastes. Since the inception of the festival, the organisers (the Kaunas Branch of the Lithuanian Composers Union and, lately, the IŠ ARTI Public Institution) havecarried out this mission with the help from the Kaunas State Philharmonic Society.