Children's Choir Ugnele
Children’s choir Ugnele comes from Vilnius, Lithuania. It’s the main concert choir of private music school Ugnele, which is a leading organization in Lithuanian choral scene. It’s more than just a choir – besides touring the world and constantly winning awards at international competitions, Ugnele organizes national festivals, conferences and seminars in Lithuania with the aim of promoting choral singing in the country. The choir regularly appears on Lithuanian television and in official events of national importance.
The school’s history begins in 1954, when folk song and dance group Ugnele was established. In 1999, Valerija Skapiene, the present artistic director of the school, began working in Ugnele, and in a few years, the choir started performing separately. In 2002, Ugnele was ranked as a first-class choir in a national choir ranking competition in Lithuania. It has since toured in twenty-two countries around the world, including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others. The choir has also won numerous awards at international choir competitions, the most recent being:
2018: Bali choir competition, Indonesia (gold in Teenage Choirs and Folk Music)
2017: Sibelius choir competition, Finland (gold in Children’s Choirs and Folk Music)
2016: Gorizia Seghizzi choir competition, Italy (best interpretation)
2015: Cantate Domino choir competition, Lithuania (gold in Scared Music by Children’s Choirs)
2014: Ohrid choir competition, Macedonia (best Children’s Choir)
2013: Silver Bells choir competition, Latvia (1st award)
In the beginning of 2019, Ugnele was awarded the Golden Bird 2019 – the most important national choral award presented by the Lithuanian National Culture Centre – as Best Children’s Choir in the country.
In 2004, Ugnele started a national choir festival for children, which now welcomes 50 to 70 choirs from all over Lithuania each year and is the largest children’s choir festival in the country. In 2016, together with Lithuanian National Culture Centre, Ugnele established the United Children’s Choir of Lithuania, which is a national singing network aimed at children from smaller towns and villages. Ugnele also publishes music education books, initiates large public relations campaigns on choral singing and organizes regular seminars for children’s choir conductors working in remote areas.
The choir’s repertoire includes Lithuanian folk music arrangements, European sacred music and works by contemporary Lithuanian artists; in the recent years, the choir has devoted a large part of their repertoire for discovering music by composers from around the world, especially their interpretations of sacred texts and folk tunes.
The name of the choir means “a small fire”, and that’s how the singers travel the world – with a fire burning in their hearts, a desire to represent Lithuania as widely as possible and to perform as best as they can.
Valerija Skapiene, the artistic director of Children’s Choir Ugnele, has the highest level of teaching degree in Lithuania. She also teaches choir conducting at Vilnius J. Tallat-Kelpsa Music Conservatoire, leads private mixed choir Sonoros and conducts at Lithuanian Song Celebrations (UNESCO-acclaimed activities where a choir of 12 thousand singers performs Lithuanian music at a huge arena built specially for the occasion.) Valerija is a Board Member at Lithuanian Choral Association, holds the Status of Art Creator from the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania and was awarded the national Golden Bird 3 times: as best children’s choir conductor (with Ugnele), best adult choir conductor (with female choir Viva) and best new choir conductor (with mixed choir Sonoros).