Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ 10-year journey: millions of listeners, unique projects and making choral history in Lithuania

At the end of 2019, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius celebrated its 10-year anniversary by holding two sold-out Christmas concerts at St Catherine’s Church in Vilnius. The concerts, called 10 Christmases Together, were held on December 20 and 21 and 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 the autumn of 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 and best-selling composer Ola Gjeilo, superstar UK vocal ensemble VOCES8, world-renowned UK choir The Sixteen, as well as great choirs from Sweden, the US and Switzerland.

From the beginning, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius has paid a great deal of attention to communication and informing the public about its activities. In 2019, the creators of cult American sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia found one of the choir’s performances and used it in the show’s soundtrack. The choir was also recognized by Gramophone magazine, the most-respected classical music publication in the world. It described Bel Canto Choir Vilnius as “the best-known Lithuanian choir with a wide, stylistically diverse repertoire”.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ media dissemination and reach 2009–2019, key figures:

The Choir’s concerts were attended by more than 15,100 spectators with an annual average of 1,500 spectators.
The choir's performances at festivals, competitions, social projects and concerts by other organizers were seen by more than 80,000 spectators.
Since 2011, the choir’s YouTube channel has amassed 8.9 million views (30.2 million minutes), with an average of 82,000 views per month. The top five countries in terms of viewers are the USA, Germany, Italy, France and Lithuania. The gender split of the channel’s viewers is 65% male to 35% female; 48% of viewers are aged 18 to 44, while 49% of them are 45 and older.
Since 2015, the choir’s recordings on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music have been played an average of 1,900 plays per month, mostly by listeners from the USA, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Lithuania.
The choir’s posts, photos and videos on its Facebook and Instagram reach more than 1.4 million users annually.

Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Egidijus Kaveckas says that the choir’s ten-year results, its reputation and strong brand allows it to confidently turn the next page of its story.

“I am proud of our entire team for achieving so much in these ten years. It’s a rare feat for any choir, whether in Lithuania or abroad. And I believe we’re starting this new decade stronger and more mature than ever with an even higher bar for quality. We’ll continue doing our best to improve, grow and nurture our great community of motivated people, while attracting new team members who wish to dedicate their free time to this worthwhile pastime. I think we’ve proven that a motivated team like ours can achieve incredible results and significantly change the image of choral music, making a new history for it in Lithuania,” said Egidijus Kaveckas.

In addition to collaborating with international musicians and composers, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius has had joint concerts with many Lithuanian musicians, such as the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, ensembles Mikroorkéstra, Giunter Percussion, Vilnius Percussion, string quartet Mettis, pianists Motiejus Bazaras and Artūras Anusauskas, soloists Lina Dambrauskaitė, Joana Gedmintaitė, Ieva Prudnikovaitė, Ieva Gaidamavičiūtė, singers Tomas Sinickis, Jeronimas Milius, Jurgis Brūzga, bands Skylė, Baltasis Kiras and others. The choir has also participated in projects with the best-known Lithuanian conductors Modestas Pitrėnas and Gintaras Rinkevičius and has collaborated with Lithuanian composers Vytautas Miškinis, Vaclovas Augustinas, among others.

Between 2009 and 2017, the choir’s Artistic Director was Artūras Dambrauskas, who was succeeded by Egidijus Kaveckas in 2017. Milda Zapolskaitė serves as the choir’s Assistant Conductor, while Raminta Gocentienė is its Assistant Conductor and Accompanist. Opera singer Liudas Norvaišas was the choir’s Vocal Coach from 2017 until the end of 2019.

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