This is Bel Canto Choir Vilnius. The No. 1 choir in Lithuania
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is Lithuania’s best mixed independent choir, uniting more than 50 singers who are deeply passionate about music and choral singing. We perform music in various styles, regularly collaborate with world-class musicians, and participate in competitions and festivals in Lithuania and abroad.
Our purpose is to change the face of choral music and ensure that broader audiences can easily discover its beauty and charm. We have a razor-sharp focus on continuous improvement, and we aim to become the most transparent, creative, and famous choir in Lithuania and anchor ourselves among the best choirs in Europe.
We also develop our community of talented and ambitious people who enjoy making music and spending time together. We want to become the best and most admired choir in Lithuania, too – for our team members and audience.
In 2023, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius took first place at the Lithuanian National Choral Competition finals, retaining the title of the country’s best volunteer choir. An international panel of judges awarded Bel Canto Choir Vilnius 96.3 points – the highest among all choirs in Lithuania. This marks the third consecutive triumph for the ensemble, following their previous victories in 2013 and 2017. Lithuania’s primary choral contest takes place every four years, serving as a platform to assess choirs’ artistic prowess and announce the best in the country.
The Choir also won the Stasys Šimkus International Choral Competition in Klaipėda, Lithuania (2013), Grand Prix at the InCanto Mediterraneo Choral Competition in Italy (2019), was awarded a gold medal at the World Choir Games (2014), participated in prestigious choral competitions in Busan (South Korea), Tolosa, Torrevieja (Spain) and elsewhere.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius became the first Lithuanian choir to present an official YouTube channel and to publish its music on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius also became the first choir in the country to enter the Lithuanian Record Book. In 2015, it ruled over the Lithuanian National Philharmonic stage for three consecutive nights, with 2,000 audience members watching the Choir’s concerts.
In 2016, the Choir repeated its concert attendance records by becoming the first choir in the country’s history to organize a joint concert with a rock star of the choral scene: world-famous composer, conductor, Grammy winner, and TED speaker Eric Whitacre.
In 2018, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius organized its most significant and ambitious project. The Open to the World seven-concert series, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence, attracted 3,500 concertgoers. At the same time, information about the project reached hundreds of thousands in Lithuania and abroad.
During the Open to the World concerts, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius appeared onstage with two of the world’s most famous contemporary composers – Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo; two of Sweden’s best choirs – Svanholm Singers and Sofia Vokalensemble; world-renowned vocal ensemble VOCES8 (UK) and Swiss choir Männerstimmen Basel.
What we are proud of.
Our major achievements
Open to the World with Zero8
An exclusive sold-out evening in Vilnius – the seventh concert of our Open to the World project together with Zero8, one of Sweden’s most popular male choirs. On November 27, we performed a stylistically diverse and unique musical program with our Swedish friends at Vilnius Philharmonic. Over 770 people attended the concert.
Open to the World with Voces8
We continued our Open to the World project with the world-renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8. Together, we presented two sold-out Christmas shows on December 4-5, 2021, at St. Catherine’s Church in Vilnius, with over 660 spectators in attendance.
Studio album OTTW
Open to the World, our first studio album, was recorded at the Paliesius Manor in November 2021. We have chosen some wonderful contemporary choral pieces and are happy to have our long-time friends joining us: the Mettis String Quartet, cellist Augustas Gocentas, pianist Motiejus Bazaras, and Norwegian singer-songwriter Marius Beck.
The album was sponsored by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Lithuanian Neighboring Rights Association AGATA and recorded by Grammy-nominated recording producer Vilius Keras and his team at Baltic Mobile Recordings. The album is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube.
Pause and Refresh
2020 was a year like no other for our choir, too. Due to the worldwide pandemic, we had to postpone our concerts and joint projects with wonderful singers and performers. However, this temporary break gave us the chance to refresh, do our homework, and make plans and preparations for the future.
This year we published quite a few live recordings of our previous concerts. Live album “Together in Vilnius” and a single “Fly to Paradise” are available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and YouTube.
Our 10-year journey together
At the end of 2019, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius celebrated its 10-year birthday by holding two sold-out Christmas concerts at St Catherine’s Church in Vilnius. The concerts, called 10 Christmases Together, were attended by more than 830 people, with tickets selling out a month before the event.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius was founded by a group of passionate choristers in 2009 and has a host of impressive achievements in just ten years since then. Among these are two consecutive victories at the Lithuanian National Choral Competition, entries in Lithuania’s record books, and concerts with world-renowned stars of choral music. The choir has appeared onstage with Grammy-winner and the world’s most popular contemporary composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, one of the world’s most famous composers Ola Gjeilo, superstar UK vocal ensemble VOCES8, world-renowned choir The Sixteen, as well as other great choirs.
At prestigious Tolosa Choral Contest
Between October 29 and November 5, 2019, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius took part in the prestigious Tolosa International Choral Competition in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, northern Spain. The contest is part of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, the best known and most prestigious network of choral contests in Europe.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius competed in the polyphonic and folk/pop music categories and received a combined rating of 8.1 points (81 percent) out of 10 (100 percent). The Choir was invited to participate at this prestigious European contest for the second time.
Open to the World
Open to the World was a 7-concert series by Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence. Bel Canto performed together with two of the world’s most popular contemporary composers, Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo, Sweden’s best choirs Svanholm Singers and Sofia Vokalensemble, the elite vocal ensemble VOCES8 (UK), and Swiss choir Männerstimmen Basel.
The aim of the project was to present the world’s best to Lithuanian audiences, to be, create, innovate, learn and improve. Together.
The Choir’s Open to the World project reached a record audience. It attracted 3,500 concertgoers, while information about the project reached hundreds of thousands in Lithuania and abroad.
The best choir in Lithuania
On October 15, 2017, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius took first place at the final of the Lithuanian National Choral Competition, retaining the title of the best volunteer choir in Lithuania for the next four years.
An international panel of judges awarded Bel Canto Choir Vilnius 98 points – the highest among all choirs in Lithuania. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius also won the competition’s Grand Prix.
The first Virtual Reality 360 Video
In July 2017, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius premiered its first Virtual 360° Video, which is also the first one in the history of Lithuania’s choral music! The Choir have chosen a beautiful ‘Lux Aurumque’ by Eric Whitacre for the premiere. The performance of the piece was filmed and recorded live in December 2016 at the Choir’s ‘Revolution Together concert, featuring Eric Whitacre himself. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius premiered its first Virtual 360° Video on the Choir’s Facebook and YouTube channel.
Revolution Together with Eric Whitacre
For the first time, Eric Whitacre – a rock star of the global choral scene, Grammy winner, TED speaker, and one of the most famous composers and conductors of his generation – and the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, joined forces for a special concert, entitled ‘Revolution Together’. On December 11-12, 2016 at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic in Vilnius, Whitacre and the Lithuanian choir performed together for the first time in the history of Lithuanian choral music.
At the prestigious Tolosa Choral Competition
In October 2016, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius performed at the Tolosa International Choral Competition in Tolosa, the Basque region of Spain. This contest belongs to the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, the major and the most prestigious A-level network of choral contests in Europe.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius received 8.1 points (81.2 percent) out of 10 (100 percent) in the highly competitive and complex polyphonic music category. Choir Brevis, another Lithuanian choir that participated in the contest, received the same number of points.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius set a Lithuanian record
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius has earned a place in the national record book. This was reported on June 3, 2016 by Factum, an agency that records Lithuanian records. The Bel Canto Choir Vilnius joined the national list of achievements by holding ‘the longest choral concert tour held on a single stage’ in the history of Lithuania. Late in 2015, the choir performed for three consecutive nights at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall and its three sold-out concerts attracted audiences totaling almost 2 000 people.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius at Expo 2015
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and Vilnius City Municipality ‘s St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra represented Lithuania at Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy. We and the Orchestra performed at the key event of Lithuania’s National Day at this International Exposition. The performance took place at Expo 2015 major concert hall, which accommodated more than 1,000 spectators.
In the club of the world’s best
In July 2014, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius joined the club of the world’s best choirs. At the World Choir Games 2014, organized in the Latvian capital Riga, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius received 90.63 points and won the gold medal. Gold medals at the Choir Games are awarded to the choirs that receive between 80 and 100 points. It was the Choir’s first appearance at the World Choir Games. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius competed in the category of Contemporary Music within the Champions Competition.
Our debut on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon
In spring 2014, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius became the first Lithuanian choir to publish its music on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. Currently we receive 500-900 monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
The best choir in Lithuania
In December 2013, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius rocked the country’s choral music scene and accomplished unthinkable. During the fourth year of its existence, the Choir won the Lithuania’s major National Choral Competition, thus becoming the best volunteer choir in the country. The Choir triumphed at the competition wining the first place (92.2 points) in the mixed choirs category. Lithuania’s National Choral Competition is being organized every four years by the Lithuanian Choral Union and is aimed to assess the artistic level of the choirs and to select the best ones in the country.
Our triumph at the Stasys Šimkus International Competition
In November 2013, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius shone at the Stasys Šimkus International Choral Competition in Klaipėda, Lithuania. International jury of the Competition, which is considered as one of the most prestigious choral competitions in the Baltics, awarded us with the first place prize (91.2 points) in the mixed choirs category. Moreover, we received two special prizes – for the best performance of the mandatory song, and for the best performance of the song by Lithuanian composer.
Our debut on YouTube
In spring 2011, the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius became the first among Lithuanian choirs to introduced its official YouTube channel. Currently we are close to 3 million views on our YouTube channel, enjoying approx.. 50 000 monthly visitors, mostly from the U.S., Germany, France, Ukraine and Lithuania.
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius was also awarded with one of the most prestigious choral awards in Lithuania – Golden Bird award in the category of New Shining Star by the Lithuanian Center for Folk Culture; triumphed at the Ohrid Choir Festival & Competition in Ohrid, Macedonia, where it won the first place in its category; as well as participated in Busan (South Korea) international choral competition and international choral competition of habaneras and polyphony in Torrevieja (Spain).
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is driven by a love of choral music, enthusiasm and creative ambition – the choir’s ambitious name indicates its members’ vision and aspirations: they are ready for a long, hard road in their quest for beautiful singing, a road full of creative experiments, discoveries and adventures.