Open to the World. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius with Ola Gjeilo & Sofia Vokalensemble. Together.

A special night in Vilnius. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius took the stage with Ola Gjeilo, one of the world’s most popular contemporary composers, and Sofia Vokalensemble, one of Sweden’s best choirs!

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, world-renowned composer Ola Gjeilo, and top Swedish choir, Sofia Vokalensemble, presented the second concert of the Open to the World concert series. On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Ola Gjeilo and more than 80 singers from Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and Sofia Vokalensemble met for the first time for an exceptional musical project in Vilnius.

The second concert of the Open to the World series was dedicated to the music of composer Ola Gjeilo. The concert featured the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (artistic director Sergej Krylov), soprano Gunta Gelgotė, other musicians, and Ola Gjeilo himself playing the piano.

After 3 years of friendship, Ola Gjeilo finally visits Bel Canto Choir Vilnius

Norwegian-born Ola Gjeilo is one of the world’s most popular composers of contemporary choral music. Characterized by rich harmonies and textures, Gjeilo’s pieces are known for their lush and cinematic sound.

A student of classical composition at The Juilliard School (NYC) and the Royal College of Music (London), Ola Gjeilo now resides in his adopted country of US, which has greatly influenced his contemporary, yet remarkably familiar style.

Special guests – Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’s friends from Sofia Vokalensemble

Sofia Vokalensemble is one of Sweden’s best mixed choirs with a captivating stage presence and a warm, lyrical Swedish choral sound. The choir was founded in 1995 by Bengt Ollén, who serves as its conductor to this day. Mr. Ollén’s goal is to move listeners by creating music “beyond the notes”. Therefore, the choir focuses on the art of vocal performance and creates a delicate and elegant sound.

Sofia Vokalensemble was awarded the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing in 2012 and has received numerous other international awards.

The concert’s centerpieces – cinematically inspired Dreamweaver and Sunrise Mass

The centerpiece of the second Open to the World concert was Ola Gjeilo’s renowned Sunrise Mass for chorus and string orchestra. This exceptionally light and moving piece conveys the composer’s modern and original take on the centuries-old tradition of sacred music.

Ola Gjeilo notes that he wanted to present the traditional Latin text in a new way – the Sunrise Mass turns a remarkably bright, spacious, almost cosmic sound into one more worldly and rugged, while feelings of lightness are replaced by much more dramatic emotions. The composer even gave new names to the traditional prayers: The Spheres (Kyrie), Sunrise (Gloria), The City (Credo), Identity & The Ground (Sanctus / Benedictus and Agnus Dei).

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius was the first to present the Sunrise Mass to the Lithuanian audiences back in 2014. This time, the piece was performed by more than 80 choristers – singers from Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and Sofia Vokalensemble together.

Ola Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver, composed for chorus, piano, and string orchestra, was another centerpiece of the concert. Dreamweaver’s lyrics were based on Draumkvedet, a well-known Norwegian epic poem, which has quite a lot in common with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius premiered Dreamweaver during their 2017 Christmas concert at St Catherine’s Church and the piece was especially well received by the public. This time, the choir recounted the dreamweaver’s journey through the afterlife together with the full Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra on the stage of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society.

Open to the World

Open to the World is a 5-concert series by Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania’s independence. During the Open to the World Series, Bel Canto will perform together with two of the world’s most popular contemporary composers, Eric Whitacre (USA) and Ola Gjeilo (USA/Norway), two of Sweden’s best choirs Svanholm Singers and Sofia Vokalensemble, elite vocal ensemble VOCES8 (UK), and fantastic Swiss choir Männerstimmen Basel.

The aim of the project is to present the world’s best to Lithuanian audiences, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, to be, create, innovate, learn and improve. Together.

The concert in photos

Open to the World video

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Program. 1st part of the Concert

Evening Prayer
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, Ola Gjeilo (piano) Danielius Praspaliauskis (saxophone)

The Lake Isle
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, Ola Gjeilo (piano), a string quartet, Andrius Gailiūnas (acoustic guitar)

Northern Lights
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Sofia Vokalensemble

Sanctus: London
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Sofia Vokalensemble

Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, Ola Gjeilo (piano), Gunta Gelgotė (soprano) & Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra

Program. 2nd part of the Concert

Ubi Caritas
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Sofia Vokalensemble and Ola Gjeilo (piano)

Sunrise Mass
Ola Gjeilo
Performers: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, Sofia Vokalensemble & Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra

Pater Noster
Vaclovas Augustinas
Performers: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius & Sofia Vokalensemble

Artists & Performers

Ola Gjeilo
Composer, pianist

Sofia Vokalensemble
Artistic director & conductor Bengt Ollén

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.

Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra
Artistic director Sergej Krylov

Gunta Gelgotė

Andrius Gailiūnas
Acoustic guitar

Danielius Praspaliauskis

Concert producers: Ola Gjeilo, Audrius Valatkevičius (Bel Canto Choir Vilnius) and Tomas Icikzonas (Sofia Vokalensemble)

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