Open To The World ’23: Zero8 & Bel Canto Choir Vilnius

Zero8, Sweden’s best and most popular male choir, joined forces with Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, recognized as the best choir in Lithuania, for their second collaboration in Vilnius. Together, they presented a new festive program that seamlessly blended classical, contemporary choral, barbershop, and popular music.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius presented a special evening in Vilnius. On December 3, in the cozy St Catherine’s Church, more than 80 Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and Zero8 singers delivered a diverse, daring, and distinctive musical experience. The concert also featured pianist Motiejus Bazaras, with solo roles performed by choir singers Mindaugas Rumšas (saxophone), Justinas Stanevičius, and Agnė Bagdonavičienė (vocals).

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Choras Bel Canto

Growing Friendship Fueled by Enchanted Audiences and Love for Vilnius

Zero8 has made a name for itself as a barbershop, jazz, and pop choir, but it eventually expanded its repertoire to include classical works. With a group of over 40 singers, Zero8 has won the European Barbershop Championship four times in a row, received numerous awards, and represented Sweden at the 2019 Eurovision Choir Contest.


The bond between Bel Canto Choir Vilnius and Zero8 began in 2022 when the famous Swedes visited Lithuania for the first time to participate in the Open To The World 2022. Both choirs performed a mind-blowing sold-out concert at the Philharmonic.

Zero8 returned to beloved Vilnius in 2023 with a new program featuring the best music ever written for a male choir. They skillfully and tastefully combined classical, Swedish traditional, pop, and jazz music. The choir members always sing what they love, showing their passion for music from the bottom of their hearts.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius program featured works by the world’s most famous contemporary composers, including Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, Ola Gjeilo, and Lithuanian composer Donatas Zakaras. In addition, the choir performed several popular music arrangements.

During this performance, the choir pleasantly surprised the audience with a striking choreography accompanying composer Jake Runestad’s energetic ‘Nyon Nyon’ and Billy Joel’s famous ‘River Of Dreams.’ Paulius Šinkūnas created the choreography for the choir.

A One-Of-A-Kind Evening: 80 Singers from Zero8 & Bel Canto Choir Vilnius at the Cozy St. Catherine’s Church

The concert featured a spectacular finale, too, with a special highlight being the treasure of Ukrainian heritage, the song “Shchedryk.” The Swedes and Lithuanians will perform this song together as a call to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.

“Shchedryk” tells the story of a swallow who flies into a man’s house and, with its song, tells him of a rich and beautiful life when spring comes. Composed of a four-part archaic motif, “Shchedryk” was arranged in 1916 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. Its melody later found new life in the English Christmas song “Carol of the Bells,” now an integral part of festive repertoire worldwide.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius first performed “Shchedryk” in 2010. The song’s recording remains the most popular on the choir’s Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube channels and has been used on the soundtracks of several films. One such film is the biographical drama “Sisi & Ich,” which debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in 2023.

Concert Program

Choras Bel Canto

Evening Prayer
Ola Gjeilo

O Magnum Mysterium
Morten Lauridsen

Conversion of Saul
Z. Randall Stroope

Laiškai Sofijai
Donatas Zakaras

Trent Reznor, arr. Eric Whitacre

The Seal Lullaby
Eric Whitacre

White Winter Hymnal
Fleet Foxes | Pentatonix

River of Dreams
Billy Joel

Nyon Nyon
Jake Runestad


Angelus ad Virginem

Veni, Emmanuel
Traditional, arr. Jan-Åke Hillerud

In Winter’s House
Joanna Marsh

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
John Frederick Coots & Haven Gillspie, arr. Rasmus Krigström

Northern Lights
Ola Gjeilo

Stig In Lucia
Solveig Hernth-Grippe

Hej, Dunkom Så Länge Vi Levom
Traditional, arr. P. J. F. Vilhelm Svedbom

Richard Strauss

In My Life
John Lennon & Paul MacCartney, arr. Steve Zegree

Godec Pred Peklom
Traditional, arr. Nana Forte

Jean Sibelius

Zero8 ir Choras Bel Canto kartu

Labrinth, arr. Owen Ladd

Shchedryk (Carol Of The Bells)
Traditional, arr. Mykola Leontovych

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year
Edward Pola & George Wyle, arr. Rasmus Krigström

Artists & Performers

Zero8 (artistic director & conductor Rasmus Krigström)
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius (artistic director & conductor Milda Švelnienė)
Motiejus Bazaras (piano)

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ artistic director Milda Švelnienė, choirmasters Raminta Gocentienė and Stasė Žaltauskaitė-Malūnavičienė, vocal coaches Eglė Stundžiaitė and Eimantas Bešėnas. “Open To The World” and choir producer Audrius Valatkevičius.

Sponsors & Partners

Open To The World 2023

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius’ Open To The World is a unique choral music project in Lithuania that has become a tradition. This year it will evolve into Vilnius’s first-ever vocal-choral music festival. It aims to introduce modern choral music, the world’s best choirs, vocal ensembles, and composers to Lithuanian audiences, promote Western culture, and create, innovate, and improve. Together.

Open To The World 2023 guests include Grammy-nominated VOCES8, the world’s best and most popular British vocal ensemble; Zero8, Sweden’s best and most popular men’s choir; Sweden’s premier vocal ensemble Ringmasters, Dagilėlis, the best boys choir in Lithuania, and Norwegian vocalist and guitarist Marius Beck.

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

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