Bel Canto Choir Vilnius invites to open up to the world again in a concert with Sweden's Zero8

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, continuing its Open to the World project, which successfully debuted in 2018, this year presents one of Sweden’s best and most popular men’s choirs, Zero8. On 27 November, at the seventh Open to the World concert at the Philharmonic Hall in Vilnius, Bel Canto Choir will invite listeners to hear barbershop music – a genre that is not performed in Lithuania – and experience the unique sound of this Swedish choir.

Zero8, which unites over 40 singers, this year became the European champions of barbershop music for the fourth time in a row, have won numerous awards, and represented Sweden at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Zero8 started out as a barbershop choir, but also combines this genre seamlessly with classical, jazz and popular music.

A chance for Lithuanian audiences to experience the unique sound of barbershop music

Rasmus Krigström, the leader of the talented Zero8, says that the barbershop genre, which is popular in Sweden with over 1500 performers, has a unique place in the music world: “The origin of barbershop harmony can be traced back to the mid-1800s in the USA, inspired by jazz and blues music. Within a few decades, it stood out as its own genre and there were hundreds of professional barbershop quarters touring around in the USA. Later on, at the beginning of the 20th century, it started to disappear and was largely forgotten because of the rise of pop music, so to restore and preserve it, the Barbershop Harmony Society was formed and it is active to this day.”

Rasmus Krigström notes that the barbershop genre should not be confused with traditional choral music. It has its own rules and sound.

“Barbershop has a few specific rules – it is sung a cappella and features four-part harmony. The genre is also unique in that the melody is always performed by the second highest voice with a harmonizing part above it. It is written in close harmony, so the sound is often feels very rich with elements of jazz. The most distinctive feature of the genre is that barbershop competitions do not allow religious texts. This is very unusual for traditional choral music,” says Rasmus Krigström.

Something for everyone to enjoy

Zero8 is best known as a barbershop choir, but the Stockholm-based group, founded in 2007, does have classical choral roots, so fans of classical choral music will also find lots to enjoy in the repertoire of the Swedish choir.

“Zero8’s journey began when Doug Harrington, a barbershop quartet world champion from the USA living in Sweden at the time, contacted us and suggested that we form a barbershop choir. Initially we focused on barbershop, but later we returned to our classical roots. Our choir members love barbershop, but we combine it with other genres of music to create a special sound and experience for the audience, which we hope Lithuanian audiences will enjoy as well,” says Zero8’s director Rasmus Krigström.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius: we want to breathe fresh air into choral music

Audrius Valatkevičius, the producer of Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, says that the Open to the World project aims not only to present the world’s best choirs, vocal ensembles and contemporary composers, but also to contribute to changing the perception of choral music and its image in Lithuania.

“We are organizing this project on our own with the help of sponsors from private capital and the Vilnius City Municipality. However, the Open to the World concerts are not only about providing a wonderful experience for ourselves and our audience. We hope that they will also inspire singers from other Lithuanian choirs and the younger generation of choir directors,” says the producer of Bel Canto Choir Vilnius.

“In Lithuania, the art of choral music is unpopular and stuck in the past, with a closed and archaic approach to the choral market. We hope that our example will encourage change, and our project will give us the opportunity to draw ideas from the best in the world, to encourage change and improvement. Zero8’s sound is distinctive and wonderful, and we are delighted to introduce them to the Lithuanian audience and breathe some fresh air into the Lithuanian choral music scene,” says Audrius Valatkevičius.

Open the the World 2022

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ Open to the World is a unique choral music project in Lithuania that has now become a tradition. It aims to introduce world’s best choirs, vocal ensembles and composers to the Lithuanian audiences, to promote Western culture, to create, innovate and improve. Together.

This year, the 7th Open to the World concert, will feature Bel Canto Choir Vilnius performing with Zero8, one of Sweden’s best and most popular male choirs.

The project is sponsored by engineering, prefab, and construction company INHUS, Business Garden Vilnius office park, Newsec, the largest property consultancy in Scandinavia and the Baltics, and the Vilnius City Municipality. The project’s media partner is LRT TV and its advertising partner is Ogilvy advertising agency.

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