DELFI: Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is the first Lithuanian choir to do it

November 28, 2015.

At the end of the year, the six-year-old Lithuanian best mixed voices volunteer choir – Bel Canto Choir Vilnius – will do something what none of the Lithuanian choirs has ever done it throughout the entire history of the national choral music.


Just before Christmas, on December 20-22, for three consecutive nights Bel Canto Choir Vilnius will reign over the stage of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall, becoming the first choir in the history of the Lithuanian choral music, attracting the audience of more than 1800 people.

This year Bel Canto Choir Vilnius invites audience to celebrate Christmas with an innovative and unprecedented program, featuring three premieres performed for the first time not only in Lithuania but the whole Baltic region.

One of them will be Deep Field, the latest piece for orchestra, chorus and mobile app by Eric Whitacre, one of the most famous contemporary American composers. For the first time in the history of classical music, the performance will integrate a special Deep Field mobile app installed on the smartphones and used as an instrument, while the audience will become the part of the performance.

For the first time in the Baltic States, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius will also present another boisterous piece by the same composer, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas!, as well collection of the best pieces by one of the most famous British composers Sir Karl Jenkins from his famous Adiemus series. Eric Whitacre, a rock star of the contemporary choral music, granted Bel Canto Vilnius the permission to premiere his newest pieces in Lithuania, while Sir Karl Jenkins granted the permission to arrange the selected pieces from Adiemus for mixed voices choir, orchestra and soloist.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius will perform with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (artistic director Sergey Krylov) and additional orchestral composition, as well as the Giunter Percussion ensemble, jazz singer Neda Malūnavičiūtė, pianist Artūras Anusauskas, electronic music artist Artūras Bulota and others.

Artūras Dambrauskas, Artistic Director of Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, says that a marathon of three consecutive nights at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic is not only the historical event for the national choral music, but also the enormous challenge for the choir.

“For my great 70 singers’ team it’s not only a unique event that will leave an indelible imprint on the history of the national choral music. So far, we view this as the great responsibility and challenge. Singing for three consecutive nights in the overcrowded Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall would be a special challenge for any choir or singer since it demands both perfect preparation as well as an emotional maturity. It is a great honor for me to take on this historical challenge with Bel Canto Choir Vilnius. It is especially gratifying since the choir consists of volunteers, receiving no payment for singing and even paying themselves for the possibility to pursue the meaningful and outstanding hobby. I am certain that with the energy, ambitions and motivation of this choir we can advance even further”, said Artūras Dambrauskas.

Audrius Valatkevičius, President of Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, stated that this non-traditional and motivated choir has set even more ambitious targets.

“For several years now, with its friends’ and sponsors’ assistance, the choir is patiently targeting to achieve the clear aim and ambition – to change the image of choral music in Lithuania. It is no secret that the choral world in the country is still conservative and archaic, lacking the vision and ambition at least to come closer to the prevailing attitude and investments dedicated in most of the Western world. We think that somebody should attempt changing that situation; we cannot allow the overall level of the national choral music to slide down to the bottom with each year. We know that choral music is beautiful, special and suggestive since this is our experience while singing. Hence, we wish its beauty and possibilities could reach the widest possible audience. That is exactly why we are trying to stage the exceptional concerts, also focusing on the overall mood and atmosphere where the music is performed, i.e. acoustics, scenography lighting, elegance, and aesthetics. We think that concerts should start not from the first chords, but from the entrance to the concert hall, the atmosphere, and the aura”, contends Audrius Valatkevičius.

Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is the choir of volunteers established by the initiative of singers. It is another unique feature of the choir, because usually choirs are established and fostered by their choirmasters. Having invited Artūras Dambrauskas to take the duties of the Artistic Director, the singers managed to reach excellence in just four years and were recognized as the best Lithuanian mixed choir at the Lithuanian National Choral competition in 2013.

A year later, in 2014, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius achieved another great success at the World Choir Games, one of the most important worldwide choral competitions. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, together with other choirs from around the world, was awarded with the gold medal, thus joining the league of world’s best choirs. Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is not financed by the state with its budget consisting only from the members’ contributions and support granted by sponsors. Nevertheless, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius became the first Lithuanian choir to present its official YouTube channel, and was the first Lithuanian choir, which presented its music on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

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