10 Christmases Together. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ Christmas & 10th anniversary concerts
Together with singer-songwriter Marius Beck (Norway), the Mettis String Quartet, soprano Ieva Gaidamavičiūtė, pianist Motiejus Bazaras, and others.
A few days before Christmas, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius (led by artistic director and conductor Egidijus Kaveckas) invited listeners to a pair of exceptionally festive evenings at St Catherine’s Church in Vilnius. On two consecutive nights – December 20 and 21 – the choir and its special guests presented an intimate and heartfelt festive program.
During these Christmas and 10th anniversary concerts, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius harmoniously blended pop, classical, and contemporary choral music. The program mostly consisted of pieces by American contemporary composers Eric Whitacre, Shawn Kirchner, and Craig Hella Johnson, arrangements of pop songs, and Christmas songs.
Inspiring friendship. Marius and Bel Canto Choir Vilnius
The evenings’ main cornerstone was the joint performances by the choir and singer-songwriter Marius Beck from Norway. The choir and Marius first collaborated in 2018, when this talented artist visited Vilnius together with Eric Whitacre and took part in the choir’s Open to the World project. This time, Marius and the choir presented a new program composed of covers of well-known songs and original pieces by Marius himself. These were specially arranged for the choir by another friend of theirs – up-and-coming Swedish composer Henrik Dahlgren.
Making new friends. The Choir and talented guys from the Mettis
Another centerpiece of the concerts was the performance by the Mettis String Quartet. This group, perhaps the best-known chamber music ensemble in Lithuania, performed two solo and joint pieces with the choir. The quartet, founded in 2012, actively performs at the world’s best-known concerts halls and enjoys top rankings at prestigious string quartet competitions.
Egidijus Kaveckas, the choir’s artistic director, noted that the choir’s Christmas concerts delighted listeners with an intimate, warm, and somewhat melancholy festive atmosphere, harmoniously combining a range of musical styles and showcasing the talents of not only the choir’s friends, but members of the choir too.
“Our choir is not just a team of ambitious and talented singers. Many of the choristers are also talented in a number of different ways and we try to foster and encourage that. Choir singers Agnė Aleksejevaitė, Jūratė Bilkštytė, Andrius Gailiūnas, Romanas Matulis, Evaldas Stulgaitis, and Simonas Girdzijauskas sang solo pieces, played guitar and piano, and performed improvised electronic music. We also invited some of our choir singers’ musician children. Valerija Vitkauskaitė, the daughter of baritone Linas and alto Simona, is studying at the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Arts and played the oboe. Our choirmaster Raminta’s son Augustas Gocentas, a student at the prestigious Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, played the cello. I am certain the fact that a number of our team members played a more distinct role in these concerts made them even more intimate, real, and emotional,” said Egidijus Kaveckas.
String Quartet No. 2, Company
Philip Glass. Performed by the Mettis String Quartet
Excerpt from Prologue from Considering Matthew Shepard
Craig Hella Johnson
Light of Clear Blue Morning
Dolly Parton, arr. Craig Hella Johnson
Deer Song iš Considering Matthew Shepard
Craig Hella Johnson
I’ll Be On My Way
Lean on Me
Marius Beck, arr. Henrik Dahlgren
A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera, arr. Henrik Dahlgren
Crosby, Stills Nash, arr. Henrik Dahlgren
Lyrics: John Newton, music: Sufjan Stevens
Arr. Quatuor Ébène. Performed by the Mettis String Quarte
Leonardo Dreams of this Flying Machine
One Sweet Little Baby
Astor Piazzolla. Performed by Augustas Gocentas (cello) and Valerija Vitkauskaitė (oboe)
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Artists & Performers
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, Norwegian singer-songwriter Marius Beck, the Mettis String Quartet (musicians: Kostas Tumosa, Bernardas Petrauskas, Karolis Rudokas and Rokas Vaitkevičius), soprano Ieva Gaidamavičiūtė, pianist Motiejus Bazaras, Augustas Gocentas (cello) and Valerija Vitkauskaitė (oboe).
The choir also invited Artūras Dambrauskas, its previous artistic director, who prepared a piece together with the choir and its alumni.
The choir’s members with featured solo roles: Agnė Aleksejevaitė (vocal), Jūratė Bilkštytė (vocal), Romanas Matulis (vocal), Andrius Gailiūnas (vocal and guitar), Simonas Girdzijauskas (piano) and Evaldas Stulgaitis (electronics).
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is led by artistic director and conductor Egidijus Kaveckas, choirmasters Milda Zapolskaitė and Raminta Gocentienė, and vocal coach Liudas Norvaišas. The choir is produced by Audrius Valatkevičius.