The BYU Singers started their tour through the Baltics in Tallinn, Estonia, where they gave their first concert at the meetinghouse for a local branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Afterward the group enjoyed an Estonian feast prepared by branch members, ending their night with good food and even better conversation.
Proceeds from this concert were donated to a nearby orphanage. Later in the week the group visited the orphanage to paint and do yardwork.
A highlight of the Singers’ second week was their collaboration with the local Estonian choirs HUIK! and the Veronika Portsmuth Academy Chamber Choir. They performed together at St. John’s Church in Tallinn’s Freedom Square. After their performance, a local merchant who had met the Singers the day before gave them heart-shaped pins and affectionately called them her “American grandchildren.”
The Singers’ second week ended in Latvia, where they impressed audiences with a version of “I Am a Child of God” that included a verse in Latvian. One member of the group said, “Singing for the people there was my favorite part. . . . It was really special to sing songs in the languages of Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
On the third week of their tour, the BYU Singers made their way from Riga, Latvia, to Klaipėda, Lithuania, to compete in the 22nd International Stasys Šimkus Choir Competition. The competition took place over the course of four days and hosted choirs from Latvia and the United States as well as Angola, Estonia, Ghana, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. The Singers took first place in the mixed choir, sacred music, and folk choir sections. After receiving special prizes for Best Performance of the Compulsory Piece and for Best Performance of a Contemporary Composition, the group was awarded the Grand Amber Prize for the best choir overall and named the winners of the Grand Prix finals, sweeping every category.
Several Singers remarked that performing Ernesto Herrera’s arrangement of “Agnus Dei” was by far the most spiritual moment of their tour. One member said, “In the performance, I could feel a distinct and spiritual connection to the text of the song. . . . As we sang, I felt united with each member of the choir, with the conductor, and with God.”