About Us

The State Choir Latvija is one of the tallest lighthouses in the Latvian cultural panorama; its musical radiance complete with the warmest, refined and perfect instrumentation of the vocal culture and the specific sound of Latvian choral tradition is a miracle known the world over – the largest professional choir of the Baltic States is regularly wanted on the concert programmes of the world’s most prominent conductors and orchestras. Since 1997 Māris Sirmais is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the choir, and Māris Ošlejs is its Director. In 2017 the State Choir Latvija celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The musical intelligence and vocal skill of the 50 choristers make Latvija a universal instrument capable of depicting subtle a capellapaintings as well as conjuring up grand vocal symphonies accompanied by a triple orchestra. Choir Latvija has collaborated with such world-renown symphony orchestrasas Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra and others.  It has performed with such outstanding conductors as Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons, Naeme Järvi, Pavo Järvi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, David Zinman, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Simone Young, Tõnu Kaljuste, Andres Mustonen and others. The cooperation with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and its conductor Mariss Jansons on the world tour dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the orchestra ranks among the highest achievements of the choir.

This is a label internationally acclaimed and an academic value as well; the choir is open to innovative projects ranging from the cooperation with Sigur Rós and Kristjan Järvi’s electro-acoustic group Absolute Ensemble, to performanceof Joe Zawinul’s jazz compositions and recordings of the music for computer games and films, and to performances of concert operas and large-scale vocal and instrumental opuses.

Artistic director Māris Sirmais 

Conductor Māris Sirmais obtained a Bachelor’s degree in conducting from Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music where he studied with Ludmila Pismennaja, and his Master’s degree under the guidance of Imants Kokars. He later pursued studies in orchestra conducting at College of Music and Performing Arts in Graz in Austria with Professor Martin Zighart.

Māris Sirmais founded the youth choir Kamēr… in 1990, led it until 2012 and together with the choir has received over a hundred international awards, most significant of them being the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing in Gorizia, Italy, in 2004, as well as three championship prizes and gold medals at the World Choir Olympics in Xianmen, China, in 2006. Since 1998 Kamēr… has been the winner of the choir battlesof the Latvian National Song Festival. Since 1997 Māris Sirmais has been the artistic director of the State Choir Latvija as well as the chief conductor and the artistic director of the International Sacred Music Festival. Under his guidance the choir has staged such outstanding pieces of vocal-instrumental music as Mass by Leonard Bernstein, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake) and La Danse des Morts(Dances of Death) by Arthur Honneger, Tango Mass by Luis Bacalov, The War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, Glagolitic Mass by Leos Janacek, Stix and Don’t Grieveby Giya Kancheli, Les Noces and Oedipus the King by Igor Stravinsky, Opus Fall and Resurrection by John Tavener, Millenium Symphony by Tan Dun, Harmonium by John Adams and many other.

Māris Sirmais has collaborated with such world known conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazi, Mariss Jansons, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Tõnu Kaljuste, Kriss Russman Matthias Jung, Naeme Järvi, Eric Klaas and Andris Nelsons. He has regular performances with Latvian National Opera Orchestra, Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, State chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica, Moscow chamber orchestra Musica Viva, Umeå Symphony Orchestra and string orchestra HelsinkiStrings. He has collaborated with such acclaimed soloists as Maxim Rysanov, Kristīne Blaumane, Egils Siliņš, Aleksandrs Antoņenko, Julius Berger, Gidon Kremer, Nicolas Altstaedt, Douglas Webster, Inese Galante and others.

Within the framework of the project World Sun Songs Māris Sirmais has collaborated with 17 world-renown composers: John Taverner, Giya Kancheli, Sven David Sandström, Leonid Desyatnikov, John Luther Adams, Stephen Leek, Dobrinka Tabakova, Hendrik Hofmeyr, Polina Medyulyanova, Alberto Grau, Ko Matsushita, Thierry Pécou, Vytautas Mishkinis, Urmas Sisask, and Bjørn Andor Drageby premiering their compositions, as well as worked together with Arvo Pärt, Rodion Schedrin, Valentine Silvestrov, Krzysztof Penderecky, Gabriel Jackson and others.

Māris Sirmais has appeared with the State Choir Latvija and choir Kamēr… in many prestigious European festivals, where he also gave master-classes and workshops. The conductor has participated in the recordings of more than 25 CDs. He has been awarded the Latvian Great Music Award ten times and has received the annual cultural award of newspaper Diena on numerous occasions. Māris Sirmais is an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and the bearer of The Three Star Order. In 2011 he received the Latvian Music Recording Award for Ēriks Ešenvald’s CD O Salutaris

In 2008 the conductor received the Award of the Cabinet of Ministers for cultural achievements and earned the title of Riga Citizen of the Year for promoting the name of Latvia throughout the world. He is the Head of the Department of Choir Conducting of Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, since 1998 has been the Chair of the Artistic Board of the National Song Festival and the Song Festival of School Students. In 2008 he was the artistic director of the Gala Concert of the XXIVth Latvian National Song Festival.

General manager Māris Ošlejs

In 1982 graduated from E. Darzins College of Music.

In 1988 graduated from Daugavpils Pedagogical University, Faculty of Music Pedagogy, specializing in music pedagogy and choral conducting (Mg.)

In 2002 received a training course at the University of Latvia in the Local Government and Project Management Center – Project Management (Certificate No 1724).

From 1988 M. Ošlejs was a lecturer at Daugavpils Pedagogical University and worked at Daugavpils Culture Center as manager and conductor of the choir Daugava. Under the leadership of M. Ošlejs, the choir Daugava has visited Austria (1988) and Germany (1990).

In 1990 M. Ošlejs worked at the Latvian Radio Choir as a choir artist;

1991 – 1992 – postgraduate student at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Pedagogy.

In 1993, M. Ošlejs worked as a Daugavpils Culture Center Manager.

Since 1994 Māris Ošlejs has been working as an artist at the State Choir “Latvija” and since 1997 has been the general manager of the State Choir “Latvija” (currently a member of the board of the State Choir “Latvija”).

Since 1998, M. Ošlejs is the initiator and general manager of the International Sacred Music Festival.

State Choir “Latvija” in leadership of M. Ošlejs have successfully collaborated with world-class symphony orchestras – the Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Finnish, Singapore, Israel, Germany, USA, Estonia, Moscow, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestras.

Under his guidance, he has collaborated to make the choir perform in prestigious world concert halls such as Amsterdam Concertgebow, Hamburg, Ladislaus Hall, Lucerne Cultural and Congress Center, Montre Igor Stravinsky Concert Hall, Munich Gasteig, Moscow Peter Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Lincoln Center in New York and others.

He has made personal contacts with conductors: Maris Jansons, Zubin Meht, Neme Jervi, Pavel Jervi, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Simon Yang, Steven Leiton, Andris Nelson, Vladimir Fedoseev and others. He has also been involved in drafting contracts with Warner Brothers, Harmonia Mundi, Wergo, Ondine record companies. With his activity, Māris Ošlejs has received the Latvian Grand Music Award to the State Choir “Latvija” (repeatedly).

In 2003, with his activity, Maris Ošlejs received the award of the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers to the State Choir “Latvija”.

In 2003, he successfully produced the Sacred Music concert and Opening concert within the framework of the XXIII General Latvian Song Festival, in cooperation with the People’s Arts Center.

In 2008, he successfully produced the Sacred Music Concert within the framework of the XXIV Universal Latvian Song Festival, in cooperation with the VN Art Center.

2014 he was the general manager of the World Choir Olympics Sacred Music Concert.

Awards:

In 2014, Māris Ošlejs received the Estonian State award for promoting cultural cooperation between Latvia and Estonia – Mara Land Order (Terra Marina).

In 2006, he received the Polish government medal “FOR MERITS TO CULTURE GLORIA ARTIS”.

He is a laureate of the Diena 2002 Annual Award in Culture.

SINGERS

MOST SIGNIFICANT CONCERTS AND RECORDS OF RECENT YEARS

  • June 2000

    2000-2007 in Germany, Austria – participation in XII, XIIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII International Bodensee Festival.

    2000-2007 in Germany, Austria – participation in XII, XIIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII International Bodensee Festival.

    June 17, 2000
  • September 2003

    within the 6th International Sacred Music Festival the choir organized and performed in the concert of the world famous Estonian composer Arvo Part in the Riga Dome Cathedral.

    within the 6th International Sacred Music Festival the choir organized and performed in the concert of the world famous Estonian composer Arvo Part in the Riga Dome Cathedral.

    September 17, 2003
  • October 2004

    the choir performed in four European capitals – Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Tallinn, as well as several other cities. In September 2004, within the 7th International Sacred Music Festival the choir organized and performed in the concert of the world famous composer Sir John Tavener. In May 2004, in Singapore, the choir participated in the first performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in South East Asia, with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lan Shui. On 1 May 2004, in Ireland, the State Choir Latvija represented Latvian choirs at the European Union enlargement celebration with several concerts organised by the European Union and presented within the cultural program Day of welcomes.

    the choir performed in four European capitals – Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Tallinn, as well as several other cities. In September 2004, within the 7th International Sacred Music Festival the choir organized and performed in the concert of the world famous composer Sir John Tavener. In May 2004, in Singapore, the choir participated in the first performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in South East Asia, with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lan Shui. On 1 May 2004, in Ireland, the State Choir Latvija represented Latvian choirs at the European Union enlargement celebration with several concerts organised by the European Union and presented within the cultural program Day of welcomes.

    October 17, 2004
  • June 2005

    the choir performed Igor Stravinsky Les Noces in Singapore arts Festival, as well as gave solo concert performing a cappella program with the conductor Māris Sirmais. In April 2005, the choir participated in the performance of Luciano Berio Coro in Tallinn (Estonia) concert hall Estonia with the conductor Tonu Kaljuste. In February 2005, the choir performed in the concert of Veljo Tormis music, dedicated to his 75 Jubilee, in Riga Latvian Society house.

    the choir performed Igor Stravinsky Les Noces in Singapore arts Festival, as well as gave solo concert performing a cappella program with the conductor Māris Sirmais. In April 2005, the choir participated in the performance of Luciano Berio Coro in Tallinn (Estonia) concert hall Estonia with the conductor Tonu Kaljuste. In February 2005, the choir performed in the concert of Veljo Tormis music, dedicated to his 75 Jubilee, in Riga Latvian Society house.

    June 17, 2005
  • September 2007

    the 10th International Festival of Sacred Music organised by the choir Latvija was widely celebrated. At this festival should be specifically mentioned the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in Latvia.

    the 10th International Festival of Sacred Music organised by the choir Latvija was widely celebrated. At this festival should be specifically mentioned the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in Latvia.

    September 17, 2007
  • February 2008

    the choir Latvija participated in world premiere of Arvo Pärt composition Deer’s Cry in Ireland in the concert Baltic voices. In this concert also compositions by Rihards Dubra – Hail To The Queen of Heaven – and Georgs Pelēcis – Blood Upon A Rose – were performed for the first time.

    the choir Latvija participated in world premiere of Arvo Pärt composition Deer’s Cry in Ireland in the concert Baltic voices. In this concert also compositions by Rihards Dubra – Hail To The Queen of Heaven – and Georgs Pelēcis – Blood Upon A Rose – were performed for the first time.

    February 17, 2008
  • September 2008

    debut of the choir Latvija in the concert hall Finlandia in Helsinki. In collaboration with the Helsinki Symphonic Orchestraand conductor John Storgårds the choir Latvija participated in the first performance of the concert opera by Rodion Shchedrin The enchanted Wanderer (2002).

    debut of the choir Latvija in the concert hall Finlandia in Helsinki. In collaboration with the Helsinki Symphonic Orchestraand conductor John Storgårds the choir Latvija participated in the first performance of the concert opera by Rodion Shchedrin The enchanted Wanderer (2002).

    September 17, 2008
  • March 2009

    debut at the Lucerne festival, in July and at the largest music event in Germany – the Rheingau festival–the choir performed The Sealed Angel by Rodion Shchedrin. After this concert Rodion Shchedrin said that the choir is the best in the world. In May 2010 the record company WERGO issued this concert recording on CD. In September the choir performed in the Season opening concert of the Hamburg Symphonic Orchestra and at the Berlin Music Festival.

    debut at the Lucerne festival, in July and at the largest music event in Germany – the Rheingau festival–the choir performed The Sealed Angel by Rodion Shchedrin. After this concert Rodion Shchedrin said that the choir is the best in the world. In May 2010 the record company WERGO issued this concert recording on CD. In September the choir performed in the Season opening concert of the Hamburg Symphonic Orchestra and at the Berlin Music Festival.

    March 17, 2009
  • November 2010

    three debut concerts at White Light Festival organised by Lincoln Centre (New York), including a project with musicians of Icelandic group Sigur Ros participating in the world premiere of Kjartan Sveinsson composition Credo and Jonsi & Alex album Riceboy Sleeps transcriptions for choir and symphonic orchestra. Positive reviews of this concert were published both in The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

    three debut concerts at White Light Festival organised by Lincoln Centre (New York), including a project with musicians of Icelandic group Sigur Ros participating in the world premiere of Kjartan Sveinsson composition Credo and Jonsi & Alex album Riceboy Sleeps transcriptions for choir and symphonic orchestra. Positive reviews of this concert were published both in The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

    November 17, 2010
  • March 2011

    debut with Amesterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, performing Mahler’s Symphony Nr. 8 under guidance of Mariss Jansons.

    debut with Amesterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, performing Mahler’s Symphony Nr. 8 under guidance of Mariss Jansons.

    March 17, 2011
  • October 2012

    debut with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony, conductor Mariss Jansons

    debut with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony, conductor Mariss Jansons

    October 17, 2012
  • January 2013

    Hyperion Records (UK) releases a CD with choral music by Gabriel Jackson A Ship with Unfurled Sails. State Choir Latvija, conductor Māris Sirmais.

    Hyperion Records (UK) releases a CD with choral music by Gabriel Jackson A Ship with Unfurled Sails. State Choir Latvija, conductor Māris Sirmais.

    January 17, 2013
  • June 2013

    debut with Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and its Chief Conductor James Gaffigan, performing “Bells” by Sergey Rachmaninov.

    debut with Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and its Chief Conductor James Gaffigan, performing “Bells” by Sergey Rachmaninov.

    June 17, 2013
  • November 2013

    performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (part of ROC 125th anniversary world tour) and Mariss Jansons at St. Petersburg Philharmony Great Hall and P. Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow.

    performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (part of ROC 125th anniversary world tour) and Mariss Jansons at St. Petersburg Philharmony Great Hall and P. Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow.

    November 17, 2013
  • June 2014

    performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel and maestro Zubin Mehta at Concert Hall MEGARON, Athens, Greece.

    performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel and maestro Zubin Mehta at Concert Hall MEGARON, Athens, Greece.

    June 17, 2014
  • April 2015

    concerts of the Baltic choral music, conducted by Māris Sirmais at the Lincoln Centre and Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York (concerts were part of the public diplomacy and culture programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union)

    concerts of the Baltic choral music, conducted by Māris Sirmais at the Lincoln Centre and Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New York (concerts were part of the public diplomacy and culture programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union)

    April 17, 2015
  • May 2015

    Debut in Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris. Performing Requiem by G. Verdi. Conductor Andris Poga. (Concert was a part of the public diplomacy and culture programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union)

    Debut in Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris. Performing Requiem by G. Verdi. Conductor Andris Poga. (Concert was a part of the public diplomacy and culture programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union)

    May 17, 2015
  • June 2015

    Performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with MDR Symphony Orchestra, conductor Neeme Jarvi.

    Performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with MDR Symphony Orchestra, conductor Neeme Jarvi.

    June 17, 2015
    Performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with MDR Symphony Orchestra, conductor Neeme Jarvi.
  • September 2016

    Participation to the concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Latvian National Symphony orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.

    Participation to the concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Latvian National Symphony orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.

    September 17, 2016
  • April 2017

    Choir debut at one of the most spotted concert halls in the world – Elbphilharmonie with Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

    Choir debut at one of the most spotted concert halls in the world – Elbphilharmonie with Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

    April 17, 2017
    Choir debut at one of the most spotted concert halls in the world – Elbphilharmonie with Mahler’s 8th Symphony.
  • October 2017

    choir debut concerts in Beijing and Shanghai together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, performing Beethoven Symphonie No. 9.

    choir debut concerts in Beijing and Shanghai together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, performing Beethoven Symphonie No. 9.

    October 17, 2017
    choir debut concerts in Beijing and Shanghai together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, performing Beethoven Symphonie No. 9.
  • April 2018

    Brahms “A German Requiem” 150 anniversary concert together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at Bremen Cathedral.

    Brahms “A German Requiem” 150 anniversary concert together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at Bremen Cathedral.

    April 17, 2018
    Brahms “A German Requiem” 150 anniversary concert together with maestro Paavo Järvi and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at Bremen Cathedral.