- 28/01, 19:00
“Nordic tranquillity and Nordic fire meets in him,” says composer Pēteris Vasks of his friend and colleague Juha Kangas. The Finnish conductor, who appears serious and reserved at first, has always been driven by an unstoppable fascination with Baltic and Nordic music, and many will agree that several times he alone has managed to find the key to the mysterious and often baffling Northern world of sound.
- 11/02, 19:00
The world of Latvian symphonic music celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2005, and that was an important and advantageous reason to proclaim the year as the Year of Latvian Symphony Music. On December 11, 2005, a concert was organised to mobilise musicians and fans and to encourage a high-quality new attitude toward local symphonic traditions, as well as contemporary and future music. It was precisely then that the idea of a Latvian symphony concert was established, with the music historian Arnolds Klotiņš proposing the idea to commemorate 125 years of Latvian symphony music.
The Saxophonia Festival invites you to come along on a trip of taste and music to Austria. Good music and fine wine, with professional stories about these two passions – that is a tradition that has been ongoing for some time at the Spīķeri Concert Hall. On Valentine’s Day, the audience will hear melodies from world-famous films such as Lord of the Rings, Captain Hook, Heart of Ice and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as melodies from Austrian films. The Five Sax ensemble is one of the craziest and most exciting saxophone ensembles in the world, bringing together outstanding instrumentalists who have received prizes at competitions all around the world. The five performers come from Belgium, Poland, the United States, Italy and Chile, but they are based in Vienna, where the ensemble performed for the first time – theatre performances and music during the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. The sound of the ensemble is based on the vivid personality of each musician, including diverse national colours and stage charm that are merged with extensive musical interests, ranging from classical music to the rhythms of Latin American dance, from various kinds of folk music to jazz.
- 15/02, 19:00
Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel, Brazilian rhythms, arrangements of folk music from various nations, the fiery tangos of Astor Piazzolla, the ballads of Chick Correa – all of these come together harmonically in the Sax Voyage programme that is presented by the Austrian-based Five Sax saxophone quintet. The audience will enjoy musical tricks that are worthy of jugglers. Five Sax is one of the craziest and most exciting saxophone ensembles in the world, bringing together outstanding instrumentalists who have received prizes at competitions all around the world.
Jānis Steprāns, saxophone (Canada)
Viktors Ritovs, piano
Edvīns Ozols, double bass
Artis Orubs, percussion
The Latvian Radio Big Band
The Saxophonia Festival brings new colour to the dingy winter with playful sounds of the saxophone. Once every two years, the festival brings together the world’s best masters of saxophone performance. French professor Alexandre Doisy will perform music by the Swiss composer Frank Martin, Latvian saxophonist Katrīna Kivliniece will perform Ģederts Ramans’ Saxophone Concerto, which once was performed by the legendary Alnis Zaķis, and Docent Arvīdas Kazlauskas, who was born in Vilnius but teaches at the Latvian Academy of Music, will perform a premiere of an opus by Justė Janulytė. At the conclusion of the evening, the audience will hear music by Rihards Zaļupe, a master of Latvian ambient music who has composed a new score for a saxophone quartet, chamber orchestra and electronica.
Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, saxophone (Norway)
Kouame Sereba, traditional African instruments, voice (Norway)
The Rīga Saxophone Quartet
Jean-Pierre Baraglioli, saxophone (France)
The Latvian Radio Choir
Kaspars Putniņš, conductor
Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue, transposed for saxophone quartet, Rihards Dubra, saxophone quintet Vigilia, György Ligeti, Lux Aeterna for a cappella choir, debus of new opuses by Armandas Aleksandravičius and Ēriks Ešenvalds
The Canadian-born saxophonist and composer Seamus Blake is one of the most important jazzmen in New York, with his heart belonging to the contemporary jazz world of the 1980s and 1990s. He continues the ideas of the distinguished jazz saxophonists Bob Mintzer and Michael Brecker and the winner of an international jazz sax competition named after the legendary Thelonious Monk. Blake’s compositions are elegant and often audacious, full of brilliant improvisations merged with excitement and enviable virtuosity. 25 years of experience with modern jazz have made the composition sense of Seamus Black more delicate. He is a member of several jazz alliances, and he has released 16 albums so far. The most recent one, Superconductor, was released late in 2015, merging electronics and electronic wind instruments. This programme involves arrangements of Blake’s music by the Latvian Radio Big Band for the audience in Rīga. The music will be supplemented by composer and actress Sabina Schiubba, who is a Grammy-nominated member of the New York electric music band Brazilian Girls.
Latvian Concerts have ensured the continuation of the “Really Young Ones” concert series during the next concert season. There will be four concerts for our youngest listeners – preschool children. Outstanding instrumentalists, singers, dancers and actors will appear on stage, and there will be fragments from animated films. The musicians will be dressed in costumes that will be of interest to and familiar for the kids. For half an hour before and after each concert, children will have access to creative workshops.
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One of the trump cards of the incredibly talented German clarinettist, composer and conductor Jörg Widmann is his versatility. He performs regularly with the best German orchestras and is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Widmann's fascinating and adventurous compositions are beloved by maestros Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons, Paavo Järvi and Simon Rattle, who often include his works in their concert programmes.
Thomas Sanderling, the son of the legendary German conductor Kurt Sanderling, largely spent his formative years in the wings of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 1990s he was the Principal Guest Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. Now he travels to Latvia again to reveal the true vitality and mastery of Beethoven in the peak of his fame.
A few years ago the Latvian Radio Choir welcomed Easter with the performance of all German grand master Johann Sebastian Bach's passions, delivering three different renditions of the New Testament's narrative of the Passion of Jesus. The concert series “Bach. Passion. Riga” received the Grand Music Award of Latvia. This year, the artistic director of the of the choir Sigvards Kļava has interspersed the choruses and corals from Bach's passions with Pēteris Vasks' music, ranging from a quiet contemplation in the stanzas by Mother Teresa to calm prayer and jubilations in praise of the Resurrection in his newest works Gloria and Mein Herr und mein Gott, performed by the Latvian Radio Choir together with the chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga and organist Ilze Reine.
Already for several years, Latvian violinist Jana Ozoliņa studies and works in Switzerland, frequently taking additional classes from the renowned violinist Boris Kuschnir. She performs with the Young Eurasian Soloists, chamber orchestra formed by her. In Riga the skilled and spirited soloist will perform the Vivaldi-inspired, melodically throbbing concerto The American Four Seasons by the founding father of American minimalism, Philip Glass. Another unusual encounter proposed by Sinfonietta Rīga will be the one with the string piece by Unsuk Chin, the best-known Korean composer in Europe – inspired by graffiti seen on the streets and embellished with bells and gongs. And finally, a new chamber concerto by the quiet Latvian with an ironic smile Oskars Herliņš.
Concluding its first decade and entering the teen years, chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga in its season closing concert offers a buffet of musical styles. The classical tradition and excerpt from the dashing Don Juan's aria will be presented by Joseph Haydn's first London symphony; the restless, tormented romantic soul will be exquisitely drawn by the Grande Allegro in the spirit of Mendelssohn's violin concerto by the Italian Giovanni Bottesini, dubbed 'the double bass Paganini'; the American Steve Reich will nod to the ancient Jewish Torah chants in his stirring, meandering opus “Eight Lines”; and in the perfect symmetries of the “travel music” by John Adams we will be able to notice the motifs of boogie-woogie, pop and minimalist rock.