Open to the World ’21 Xmas Live: Voces8 & Bel Canto Choir Vilnius

A very special Christmas in Vilnius: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and world-renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8. Together.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius continues its Open to the World project with a special Christmas concerts in Vilnius. VOCES8 and Bel Canto Choir Vilnius presented a festive and stylistically diverse musical program during two concerts, which took place on December 4-5, 2021 at St Catherine’s Church in Vilnius.

The concerts also featured the choir’s friends Motiejus Bazaras (piano), Augustas Gocentas (cello) and Tomas Byčkovas (hang).

Photo album

Bel Canto Choir’s friendship with the talented British VOCES8

VOCES8 is an octet from the United Kingdom, world-famous and the recipient of dozens of prestigious awards, renowned for its sensitive, light and elegant sound. The vocal ensemble’s repertoire effortlessly combines music from a wide range of styles and eras, from 18th-century polyphonies to original arrangements of jazz and popular music.

The friendship between Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and VOCES8 began in 2021 when this elite ensemble, which performs on the world’s most famous stages, came to Lithuania for the first time. The ensemble took part in the choir’s Open to the World 2018 project, and together they performed two sold-out concerts.

The special friendship between the choir and VOCES8 continues. In 2021, both groups presented a new program of classical, contemporary and easy-listening popular music to the Lithuanian audience. Two sold-out concerts in Vilnius also featured a world premiere – VOCES8 premiered ‘The Sleeping Child’, a piece specially written for the ensemble by renowned British contemporary composer Bob Chilcott.

A joint British-Lithuanian program 

VOCES8 and Bel Canto Choir Vilnius also presented an unforgettably moving and elegant joint program. It featured works by Eric Whitacre, renowned as the world’s most famous contemporary choral composer, Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds and composer Bob Chilcott of the United Kingdom.

Grammy winner Eric Whitacre is a good friend of both Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and VOCES8, and has worked with the two groups on numerous musical projects. His works therefore had a special place in the joint program.

For the first time, the British vocal ensemble and Bel Canto Choir Vilnius performed Eric Whitacre’s exceptionally poignant ‘Child of Wonder’ (from the twelve-movement composition ‘The Sacred Veil’), and composer’s one of the most famous composition ‘Sleep’.

Rolls-Royce of British a cappella ensembles

VOCES8 have earned worldwide fame not only for their unique blend of pure sound, exciting repertoire, and prolific touring activity – the ensemble is also known for its educational work. Their foundation runs music education, leadership and management programs for children, young people and choir directors, initiates research and supports young talent, the ensemble’s singers give masterclasses at Cambridge University and the unique VOCES8 method is used in thousands of schools around the world.

The ensemble receives regular praise from critics, such as: ‘VOCES8 are the Rolls-Royce of British a cappella ensembles’ (The Art Desk), ‘A perfect blend of calm contentment and soaring spirit’ (The Independent), ‘The singing of VOCES8 is impeccable in its quality of tone and balance. They bring a new dimension to the word ‘ensemble’ with meticulous timing and tuning’ (Gramophone Magazine).

Concert Program

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius:

  • Moonlight Sound Design
    Raimonds Tiguls
  • Air on the G String
    J. S. Bach, arr. Miguel Astor
  • Sonnet No. 12
    Valts Puce
  • From a Distance
    Julie Gold, arr. Anna Abeleda-Piquero
  • White Winter Hymnal
    Pentatonix
  • Purple Rain
    Prince, arr. Milda Zapolskaitė

VOCES8:

  • Angelus ad Virginem – Chant
    Arr. Barnaby Smith and Jonathan Pacey
  • Ave Maria
    Josquin des Prez
  • The Sleeping Child. World Premiere Commission for VOCES8
    Bob Chilcott
  • Child of Wonder. World Premiere Commission for VOCES8
    Eric Whitacre
  • Lully, Lulla, Lullay
    Philip Stopford
  • Magnificat Quinti Toni with In Dulci Jubilo
    Hieronymous Praetorius, Joseph Lieber Joseph Mein
  • The Oxen
    Jonathan Rathbone
  • Christmas Lullaby
    David Pickthall
  • Silver Bells
    Jay Livingston & Ray Evans arr. Blake Morgan
  • Let it Snow
    Jule Steyn arr. Jim Clements
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    John Coots & Haven Gillespie arr. Jim Clements

VOCES8 & Bel Canto Choir Vilnius together: 

  • Long Road
    Ēriks Ešenvalds
  • Sleep
    Eric Whitacre
  • Child of Wonder
    Eric Whitacre
  • Jingle Bells
    Bob Chilcott

Artists & Performers

VOCES8 (artistic director Barnaby Smith), Bel Canto Choir (artistic director Egidijus Kaveckas), Motiejus Bazaras (piano), Augustas Gocentas (cello), Tomas Byčkovas (hang).

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is led by artistic director and conductor Egidijus Kaveckas, second conductor and choirmaster Milda Zapolskaitė, choirmaster Raminta Gocentienė, and vocal coach Eglė Stundžiaitė. The choir and project are produced by Audrius Valatkevičius.

Sponsors & Project Partners

Open the the World 2021

Open to the World 2021 is the 6th musical project in the series by Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, during which the choir will perform with world-renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8.

The aim of the project is to introduce the world’s best choirs, vocal ensembles and composers of choral music to Lithuanian listeners, to create, innovate, learn and improve. Together.

The project is sponsored by engineering, prefab, and construction company INHUS, Business Garden Vilnius office park, Newsec, the largest real estate 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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