Bel Canto Choir Vilnius: an intimate spring evening at St Catherine Church in Vilnius
A special premiere – Mass for chorus and classical guitar by Latvian composer and guitarist Kaspars Zemītis
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, after its last year’s intensive Open to the World concert series, invited listeners to AcoustiCO, the choir’s first performance in 2019. On May 24, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius presented an intimate spring concert, mostly featuring music by contemporary composers from neighboring Latvia.
AcoustiCO also stared some of the choir’s good friends – guitarist Saulius Lipčius, one of the country’s best young cellists Augustas Gocentas, children’s percussion ensemble from the Vilnius Methodist Art Centre (director Saulius Auglys), and pianist Raminta Gocentienė.
The highlight of the concert was the Lithuanian premiere of mass for choir and classical guitar by Latvian composer and guitarist Kaspars Zemītis. This was performed by the choir together with the composer’s good friend Saulius Lipčius.
Mesa by Kaspars Zemītis is a unique and modern blend of the traditional Latin mass genre together with the sounds of the classical guitar. The contemporary re-imagining of the mass is especially calming, tender, and thought-provoking. The composition features a range of solo passages on the classical guitar, which elegantly intertwine with individual vocal parts of the choir.
The finale – Agnus Dei and Amen – stands out with its especially subtle and tender soprano solo, whose fluttering, wordless duet creates a musical contrast with the slower, more careful choral sounds that follow. This leads to the final section of the mass, Amen, an uplifting ending with the words ‘hallelujah’ and ‘amen’ repeated and eventually fading as the composition reaches its peaceful and calm finale.
During their end-of-spring concert, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius also performed pieces by well-known contemporary composers Eric Whitacre and Ēriks Ešenvalds, somewhat of a staple of the choir’s recent concerts. The programme also featured choral arrangements by pop musicians and composers, such as Carly Simon, Dolly Parton, Josiah Kelley Atwood.
The concert in photos
Let the River Run
Carly Simon, arr. Craig Hella Johnson
My Love is like a Red, Red Rose
Scottish tune, arr. Ēriks Ešenvalds
Buscando Mis Amores
Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine
Mesa. Mass for chorus and classical guitar
Suite for Cello Solo 3. Intermezzo e Danza Finale
Gaspar Cassadó. Performed by Augustas Gocentas
Light of Clear Blue Morning
Dolly Parton, arr. Craig Hella Johnson
Josiah Kelley Atwood, arr. Shawn Kirchner
Artists & Performers
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius
Artistic Director & Conductor Egidijus Kaveckas
Children’s percussion ensemble from the Vilnius Methodist Art Centre
Director Saulius Auglys
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ Artistic director and conductor Dr Egidijus Kaveckas, second conductor and choirmaster Milda Zapolskaitė, choirmaster and concertmaster Raminta Gocentienė, vocal coach Liudas Norvaišas. Producer Audrius Valatkevičius.