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. 

The 60 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, the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammer­philharmonie Bremen, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, The Cadaqués Orchestra, The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, The Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and others.

The choir has performed with such outstanding conductors as Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons, Zubin Mehta, Neeme Järvi, Jaap van Zweden, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, David Zinman, Valery Gergiev, 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 choir has performed on the stages of the world’s greatest concert halls, including the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, KKL Luzern, The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, The National Music Auditorium in Madrid, Lincoln Centre in New York, Shanghai Concert Hall, The Esplanade in Singapore and many others.

The State Choir LATVIJA is internationally acclaimed both for its academic excellence as well as its innovative projects. The choir has participated in recordings produced by NaxosWarner Brothers, Harmonia Mundi, Wergo and Ondine, as well as numerous recording projects by both Latvian and foreign music publishers.

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 has served as General Manager of the State Choir LATVIJA since 1997. He is currently also a member of the Board. Prior to becoming General Manager, he worked for three years as a choral artist in the State Choir LATVIJA. In 1998, he founded the International Sacred Music Festival, of which he has been the General Manager ever since.

Under his administrative leadership, the State Choir LATVIJA has collaborated with world-class orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic. During his time as General Manager, the State Choir LATVIJA has established fruitful relationships with conductors including Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Andris Nelsons, Simone Young, and Paavo Järvi. He has also helped to reach agreements with record companies including Warner Brothers, Ondine, and Harmonia Mundi. Ošlejs’ leadership has also resulted in numerous Latvian Great Music Awards for the State Choir LATVIJA.

Māris Ošlejs graduated from the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in 1982. He later graduated from the Faculty of Music Pedagogy of Daugavpils Pedagogical University, where he specialised in music pedagogy and choral conducting.

In addition to his work as General Manager of the State Choir LATVIJA, Māris Ošlejs has provided leadership to several important cultural events in Latvian music history. These have included the Sacred Music Concerts of the XXIII and XXIV Nationwide Latvian Song and Dance Festivals, as well as the Scared Music Concert of the World Choir Games in 2014. 

Māris Ošlejs’ extensive contributions to music and culture have resulted in awards from the governments of Latvia, Estonia, and Poland.

SINGERS

SIGNIFICANT CONCERTS, PROJECTS, AND RECORDINGS

  • June 2000

    From 2000 to 2007, the State Choir LATVIJA participated in the XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII International Bodensee Festivals.

    From 2000 to 2007, the State Choir LATVIJA participated in the XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII International Bodensee Festivals.

    June 17, 2000
  • September 2003

    Within the framework of the 6th International Sacred Music Festival, the State Choir LATVIJA organized and performed the works of the world-famous Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

    Within the framework of the 6th International Sacred Music Festival, the State Choir LATVIJA organized and performed the works of the world-famous Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

    September 17, 2003
  • October 2004

    The choir performed in four European capitals—Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Tallinn—as well as many other major cities. In the 7th International Sacred Music Festival, the choir presented the works of English composer Sir John Tavener. In May, the choir traveled to Singapore for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lan Shui. In Ireland, the State Choir LATVIJA represented Latvia in a concert organised by the European Union in celebration of the enlargement of the EU.

    The choir performed in four European capitals—Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Tallinn—as well as many other major cities. In the 7th International Sacred Music Festival, the choir presented the works of English composer Sir John Tavener. In May, the choir traveled to Singapore for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Lan Shui. In Ireland, the State Choir LATVIJA represented Latvia in a concert organised by the European Union in celebration of the enlargement of the EU.

    October 17, 2004
  • June 2005

    As part of the Singapore Arts Festival, the State Choir LATVIJA performed Stravinsky’s Les Noces, in addition to an a cappella programme led by Artistic Director Māris Sirmais. In February, the choir celebrated the 75th birthday of Estonian composer Veljo Tormis with a concert of his works in the Riga Latvian Society House. In April, the choir presented Luciano Berio’s Coro in Tallinn with conductor Tonu Kaljuste.

    As part of the Singapore Arts Festival, the State Choir LATVIJA performed Stravinsky’s Les Noces, in addition to an a cappella programme led by Artistic Director Māris Sirmais. In February, the choir celebrated the 75th birthday of Estonian composer Veljo Tormis with a concert of his works in the Riga Latvian Society House. In April, the choir presented Luciano Berio’s Coro in Tallinn with conductor Tonu Kaljuste.

    June 17, 2005
  • September 2007

    The 10th International Sacred Music Festival, organized by the State Choir LATVIJA, was widely celebrated. Particularly notable was the Latvian premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass

    The 10th International Sacred Music Festival, organized by the State Choir LATVIJA, was widely celebrated. Particularly notable was the Latvian premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass

    September 17, 2007
  • September 2008

    In Ireland, the State Choir LATVIJA gave the world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s A Deer’s Cry. In the same concert, the choir presented the world premieres of Rihards Dubra’s Hail, Queen of Heaven and Georgs Pelēcis’ I See His Blood Upon the Rose. In 2008, the State Choir LATVIJA also made its debut in the Helsinki Music Centre, presenting the first concert performance of Rodion Shchedrin’s opera The Enchanted Wanderer.

    In Ireland, the State Choir LATVIJA gave the world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s A Deer’s Cry. In the same concert, the choir presented the world premieres of Rihards Dubra’s Hail, Queen of Heaven and Georgs Pelēcis’ I See His Blood Upon the Rose. In 2008, the State Choir LATVIJA also made its debut in the Helsinki Music Centre, presenting the first concert performance of Rodion Shchedrin’s opera The Enchanted Wanderer.

    September 17, 2008
  • March 2009

    The choir made its debut at the prestigious Lucerne Festival, as well as presenting Rodion Shchedrin’s masterwork The Sealed Angel at the Rheingau Festival in Germany. In September, the choir participated in the season opening concert of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra at the Berlin Music Festival.

    The choir made its debut at the prestigious Lucerne Festival, as well as presenting Rodion Shchedrin’s masterwork The Sealed Angel at the Rheingau Festival in Germany. In September, the choir participated in the season opening concert of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra at the Berlin Music Festival.

    March 17, 2009
  • November 2010

    The State Choir LATVIJA made its debut at the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center in three concerts, including collaborations with the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós. The performances received positive reviews in the New York Times and in Rolling Stone.

    The State Choir LATVIJA made its debut at the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center in three concerts, including collaborations with the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós. The performances received positive reviews in the New York Times and in Rolling Stone.

    November 17, 2010
  • March 2011

    The choir made its debut performance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with conductor Mariss Jansons.

    The choir made its debut performance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with conductor Mariss Jansons.

    March 17, 2011
  • October 2012

    The choir performed with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the first time, once again joining conductor Mariss Jansons for Mahler’s Symphony No. 8.

    The choir performed with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the first time, once again joining conductor Mariss Jansons for Mahler’s Symphony No. 8.

    October 17, 2012
  • November 2013

    The State Choir LATVIJA’s recording of works by British composer Gabriel Jackson, conducted by Māris Sirmais, was released on the Harmonia Mundi label. In June, the choir made its debut with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan in a performance of Rachmaninov’s The Bells. In November, as part of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s 125-year anniversary world tour, the choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with conductor Mariss Jansons in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

    The State Choir LATVIJA’s recording of works by British composer Gabriel Jackson, conducted by Māris Sirmais, was released on the Harmonia Mundi label. In June, the choir made its debut with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan in a performance of Rachmaninov’s The Bells. In November, as part of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s 125-year anniversary world tour, the choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with conductor Mariss Jansons in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

    November 17, 2013
  • June 2014

    Together with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta, the State Choir LATVIJA performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in Athens, Greece.

    Together with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta, the State Choir LATVIJA performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in Athens, Greece.

    June 17, 2014
  • June 2015

    As part of the Latvian Presidency of the European Union, the State Choir LATVIJA presented performances of Baltic choral music at Lincoln Center and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. The choir also made its debut at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, performing Verdi’s Requiem with conductor Andris Poga. In June, the choir joined the MDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Paavo Järvi in a Leipzig performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias.

    As part of the Latvian Presidency of the European Union, the State Choir LATVIJA presented performances of Baltic choral music at Lincoln Center and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. The choir also made its debut at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, performing Verdi’s Requiem with conductor Andris Poga. In June, the choir joined the MDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Paavo Järvi in a Leipzig performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias.

    June 17, 2015
    As part of the Latvian Presidency of the European Union, the State Choir LATVIJA presented performances of Baltic choral music at Lincoln Center and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City. The choir also made its debut at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, performing Verdi’s Requiem with conductor Andris Poga. In June, the choir joined the MDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Paavo Järvi in a Leipzig performance of Des Jona Sendung by Rudolf Tobias.
  • September 2016

    The choir participated in a concert celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.

    The choir participated in a concert celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons.

    September 17, 2016
  • October 2017

    The choir made its debut at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Later in 2017, the State Choir LATVIJA performed in China for the first time, joining conductor Paavo Järvi in concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Shanghai and Beijing.

    The choir made its debut at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Later in 2017, the State Choir LATVIJA performed in China for the first time, joining conductor Paavo Järvi in concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Shanghai and Beijing.

    October 17, 2017
    The choir made its debut at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Later in 2017, the State Choir LATVIJA performed in China for the first time, joining conductor Paavo Järvi in concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Shanghai and Beijing.
  • April 2018

    Together with conductor Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the State Choir LATVIJA celebrated the 150th anniversary of Brahms’ German Requiem at Bremen Cathedral.

    Together with conductor Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the State Choir LATVIJA celebrated the 150th anniversary of Brahms’ German Requiem at Bremen Cathedral.

    April 17, 2018
    Together with conductor Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the State Choir LATVIJA celebrated the 150th anniversary of Brahms’ German Requiem at Bremen Cathedral.
  • May 2018

    On May 4th, the closing concert of the series “Latvian composers for the centenary of Latvia” brought together more than 800 singers. The choir made its debut at the National Music Auditorium in Madrid, performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Orquestra de Cadaqués and conductor Antoni Wit.

    On May 4th, the closing concert of the series “Latvian composers for the centenary of Latvia” brought together more than 800 singers. The choir made its debut at the National Music Auditorium in Madrid, performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Orquestra de Cadaqués and conductor Antoni Wit.

    May 4, 2018