The BYU Singers made their way from Riga, Latvia, to Klaipėda, Lithuania, where they competed in the 22nd International Stasys Šimkus Choir Competition—but not before a stop in Liepāja, Latvia, to explore the historic Karosta Prison and the Northern Forts along the Baltic Sea.
The International Stasys Šimkus Choir Competition began on Thursday, May 12, and included choirs from Latvia, the United States, Angola, Ghana, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and Ukraine. The BYU Singers competed over a span of four days in the mixed choir, sacred music, and folk choir categories of the competition. They were also invited, along with three other choirs, to participate in the Grand Prix finals on Sunday. The awards ceremony brought high accolades from the judges. The BYU Singers were awarded first place in the mixed choir category, first place in the sacred music category, and first place in the folk choir category. They received special prizes for best performance of the compulsory piece and best performance of a contemporary composition. The group was also awarded the Grand Amber Prize (best choir overall), and named winners of the Grand Prix finals. After the awards ceremony, the judges invited the Singers to perform four pieces for the participants of the competition.
While the BYU Singers were in Klaipėda, they were invited to give a solo concert in Palanga’s Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. They sang directly after the church mass, where hundreds were in attendance. Audience members who could not find seats stood, and young children sat in the aisle to get closer pictures of the group’s performance. The Singers’ musical program featured a repertoire from their competition as well as sacred music, including “I Am A Child of God,” with a verse in Lithuanian.
On May 16, the group departed from Klaipėda, driving four hours east to Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius. There they rehearsed with a partner choir to prepare for their final concert on May 17, which took place at the Church of St. Catherine in the heart of the city.