Bel Canto Choir Vilnius: Wake up, Europe. The night is over…!
During the cultural festival Culture Night on July 5, 2013, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius presented a social-cultural project – a special concert entitled Wake up Europe. The night is over…! This concert, dedicated to Lithuania’s first Presidency of the Council of the European Union, featured some of the most beautiful European music performed by the Choir and its friends – well-known and prominent Lithuanian musicians – and provided Lithuania’s EU Presidency with a bright, sonorous and elegant opening touch.
The concert featured 60 singers of the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, the internationally renowned Lithuanian mezzo soprano Ieva Prudnikovaitė, the pianist and jazz virtuoso Artūras Anusauskas and the violinist Artūras Šilalė. The Vilnius Percussion Group (artistic director Saulius Auglys), the piper Vytautas Linkevičius, as well as young classical music talents Lina Dambrauskaitė and Milda Baronaitė, students of opera singers Sigutė Stonytė and Asta Krikščiūnaitė at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, also performed in the concert.
Artūras Dambrauskas, artistic director and chief conductor of the choir, says that the concert showcased Lithuania as a brave, self-confident country that is ready for new challenges and victories.
“The Culture Night festival was dedicated to Lithuania’s EU Presidency this year. Music has been and is a very important part of culture of Lithuania and other European countries. Music is also a very powerful tool for spreading social ideas and messages. Therefore we would like to encourage our European friends to forget the pains of the economic crisis and to focus on the future, on forward-looking discussions and on new achievements as well as lessons learned. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius says to Europe: the night is over, let’s think about the future with confidence and optimism!” concludes Mr. Dambrauskas.
The concert delivered several surprises. For the first time in Lithuania, the choir presented the renowned classical piece Bolero by Maurice Ravel, specially arranged for the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, three soloists, piano and percussion by composer Vladimiras Konstantinovas. Usually, this colorful masterpiece is performed by a symphony orchestra; the choir’s ability to emulate an orchestra’s role therefore represented an intriguing challenge.
The concert also featured some symbolism. Because Lithuania took over the EU Presidency from Ireland, the choir’s special performance began with Rising of the Song (in Gaelic, Eirí na Gréine) by Irish composer Michael McGlynn. The sound of a violin and a bagpipe added a specific Irish color to this song of delicate humor. The concert ended with another well-known piece, specially arranged for the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius. A passionate Greek Sirtaki symbolized Greece, which took over the EU Presidency from Lithuania at the end of 2013.
The Bel Canto Choir Vilnius encouraged a renewal of optimism and self-confidence with other great songs by European composers as well. The choir performed Oi aš vakar vakarėlį, the Lithuanian national song, harmonized by Giedrius Svilainis; an extraordinary motet O salutaris hostia by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds; and the temperamental and passionate Spanish habaneras Renaces Tu by Arturo Dúo Vital and El ausente by Jorge López. The legendary song Hijo de la luna by composer and painter José María Cano de Andrés was performed by soloist Ieva Prundikovaitė and added even more intense Spanish colors to the concert.
The concert also featured such classic symbols of European culture as Johann Sebastian Bach’s chorale Jesus bleibet meine Freude from the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147 and Edvard Grieg’s Solveig’s Song from the music for Henrik Ibsen’s drama Peer Gynt. In addition, the choir presented a special piece of contemporary music: a mysterious Book of Gems by French composer Emmanuel Séjourné united the choir with a percussion group, broadening their sound and providing the audience with new experiences.
The Bel Canto Choir Vilnius concert was filmed in HD and recorded live in Surround Sound. In the fall of 2013, the concert was published on the official YouTube channel of the Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, thus becoming available to millions of listeners around the world.
Singers & Musicians
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, soloists Ieva Prudnikovaitė, Lina Dambrauskaitė ir Milda Baronaitė, Artūras Anusauskas (piano), Artūras Šilatė (violin), Vytautas Linkevičius (bagpipe), Vilnius Percussion Group.
The Choir’s chief conductor and artistic director is Artūras Dambrauskas; choirmasters are Raminta Gocentienė, Alfredas Celiešius and Simona Vitkauskienė. Producer of the concert Audrius Valatkevičius.
Wake Up, Europe! concert in photos
Rising of the Sun
Oi aš vakar vakarėlį (Oh, Yesterday Evening I Was…)
Lithuanian national song, harmonized by Giedrius Svilainis
O Salutaris Hostia
Jesus bleibet meine Freude from the cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” BWV 147
Johann Sebastian Bach
Arturo duo Vital
Music by Jorge López; lyrics by Carmen Ortiz
Hijo de la Luna
José María Cano de Andrés
Maurice Ravel (arrangement by V. Konstantinovas)
Solveig’s Song from Edvard Grieg’s music for Henrik Ibsen’s drama Peer Gynt
Book of Gems
Mikis Theodorakis (arrangement by V. Konstantinovas)