About Us

The State Choir LATVIJA is one of the most significant monuments of Latvian cultural life and history. The choir’s musical radiance is defined by the vocal culture and sound of the Latvian choral tradition, characterised by warmth, balance and precision. The State Choir LATVIJA is the largest professional choir in the Baltic states, and it is regularly in demand on the concert programmes of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. Since 1997, the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the choir has been Māris Sirmais, while the choir’s General Manager has been Māris Ošlejs. In 2017, the State Choir LATVIJA celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The 50 members of the State Choir LATVIJA are renowned for their musical intelligence and vocal skill, making the choir a unique instrument capable of performing everything from subtle a cappella pieces to large vocal-symphonic masterworks. The State Choir LATVIJA has collaborated with world-renowned symphony orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and others. The choir has performed with such outstanding conductors as Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, David Zinman, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Simone Young, Tõnu Kaljuste, and others. One of the most significant achievements in the history of the choir was its collaboration with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and conductor Mariss Jansons in a world tour dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the orchestra.

The State Choir LATVIJA is internationally acclaimed both for its academic excellence as well as its innovative projects. The choir’s accomplishments range from collaborations with 
Sigur Rós to performances of Joe Zawinul’s jazz compositions and recordings of the music for computer games and films, to performances of concert operas and large-scale vocal-symphonic works.

Artistic Director Māris Sirmais 

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

Māris Sirmais founded the Youth Choir Kamēr… in 1990 and served as the choir’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor until 2012. In that time, the choir received over one hundred international awards, the most significant 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 1997, Māris Sirmais has been the Artistic Director of the State Choir LATVIJA, as well as the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the International Sacred Music Festival. Under his guidance, the choir has staged many of the most significant works of the vocal-symphonic repertoire, including Leonard Bernstein’s MassJeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake) and La Danse des Morts( Dances of Death) by Arthur Honneger, Britten’s War Requiem, Janaček’s Glagolitic Mass, Styx and Don’t Grieve by Giya Kancheli, Stravinsky’s Les Noces and Oedipus Rex,  Tan Dun’s Millennium SymphonyHarmonium by John Adams, and many others.

Māris Sirmais has collaborated with such world-renowned conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mariss Jansons, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Tõnu Kaljuste, Matthias Jung, Neeme Järvi, Eric Klaas and Andris Nelsons. He appears regularly with the Latvian National Opera Orchestra, Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonietta Rīga, Kremerata Baltica, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra Musica Viva, Umeå Symphony Orchestra and Helsinki Strings. 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.

With the Youth Choir Kamēr…, Sirmais developed the highly acclaimedWorld Sun Songs project, a collaboration with 17 of the world’s leading 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. He has also worked closely with Arvo Pärt, Rodion Shchedrin, Valentin Silvestrov, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gabriel Jackson and others.

Māris Sirmais has appeared with the State Choir LATVIJA and Youth Choir Kamēr… in many prestigious European festivals, where he also leads masterclasses 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 the newspaper Diena on several occasions. Māris Sirmais is an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Order of the Three Stars. In 2011, he received the Latvian Music Recording Award for Ēriks Ešenvalds’ CD O Salutaris.

In 2008 Sirmais 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 an Associate Professor of Choir Conducting at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, and since 1998 has served as a Chief Conductor of the National Song Festival and the National Student Song Festival. In 2008, Sirmais was the Artistic Director of the Gala Concert of the 24th Latvian National Song Festival.

General Manager Māris Ošlejs

Māris Ošlejs graduated from the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in 1982, and from the Faculty of Music Pedagogy of Daugavpils Pedagogical University in 1988, specialising in music pedagogy and choral conducting.

In 2002, Ošlejs completed a training course in Project Management at the Local Government and Project Management Centre of the University of Latvia. From 1988, he served as a lecturer at Daugavpils 

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

SIGNIFICANT CONCERTS, PROJECTS, AND RECORDINGS

  • 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.