The 23rd International Sacred Music Festival Begins

The State Choir LATVIJA and its artistic director and principal conductor Māris Sirmais invite listeners to mark their calendars for one of the summer’s most anticipated classical music festivals. The 23rd International Sacred Music Festival will take place in Riga from August 18th to September 5th.

The opening concert of the 23rd International Sacred Music Festival, Angels and Demons, will spotlight Iveta Apkalna, one of the brightest stars in Latvian music. The concert will feature organ works from Dmitri Shostakovich, Olivier Messiaen, and Franz Liszt. “The concert will feature works about the demon Lady Macbeth from Shostakovich’s opera, the angels who build the cathedral (in Messiaen’s The Appearance of the Eternal Church), and the music of Franz Liszt, which brilliantly depicts the battles between good and evil which took place internally throughout the composer’s life,” says Iveta Apkalna regarding her chosen program. The opening concert will take place on August 18th at 19:00 in Riga Cathedral.

On August 20th at 20:00 in Riga Cathedral, there will be a concert in memory of the great Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. The performance will feature the composer’s final composition, Tsutisopeli, as well as the vocal-instrumental work Styx, which tells the story of the journey to the world of the dead. Virtuoso violist Maxim Rysanov (Ukraine/Great Britain) will take part in the performance. The concert will also feature the world premiere of Rihards Dubra’s Absolve Domine, dedicated to the memory of Giya Kancheli. The State Choir LATVIJA and Māris Sirmais will continue a festival tradition by collaborating with the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra.

This year, festival artistic director Māris Sirmais has invited two Latvian musicians with whom he has developed a special relationship to create their own concert program. On August 27th at 20:00 in Riga Cathedral, a concert entitled Garden of Players will be presented by organist Kristīne Adamaite and baritone Rinalds Kandalincevs. The concert will feature sacred music from Pēteris Vasks, Jāzeps Vītols, Jānis Mediņš, J.S. Bach, Peter Cornelius, Cesar Franck, and others.

On August 28th, festival organizers invite listeners to visit one of the most intimate concert halls in Riga’s Old Town. A synthesis of jazz and gospel music will take place in the Zirgu Street Concert Hall. The concert will feature an international collection of jazz musicians: Una Stade, Greta Grantiņa and Evelīna Kalniņa (vocals; Latvia), Elīza Apine (guitar; Latvia), Tuomo Uusitalo (piano, Finland), Kaisa Maensivu (bass, Finland), and Joe Peri (drums, USA).

One of the most longstanding traditions of the festival is a concert featuring new compositions. This year, the works of four composers will be premiered: Alvils Altmanis’ Missa Brevis, Renāte Stivriņa’s Seven Moments at the Cross, saxophonist Artis Gāga’s To be prayed, and Uldis Marhilēvicš’ Kyrie and Agios o Theos·

On September 3rd, one of the most highly regarded professional choirs in Lithuanian, the Lithuanian State Choir Vilnius, will delight audiences with a special concert. The choir will present a program of Lithuanian sacred and secular music in St. Peter’s Church, under the direction of the choir’s chief conductor Artūras Dambrauskas. The program will provide an insight into the soundscapes of the world of Lithuanian contemporary music.

Johannes Brahms’ monumental German Requiem will be performed at the closing concert of the festival on September 5th in Riga Cathedral. The performance will feature the State Choir LATVIJA, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, and soloists Elīna Šimkus and Rihards Millers. Andris Poga, artistic director and chief conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the performance.

The organizers of the festival invite listeners to follow the information about the program on the festivals website, www.sgmf.lv, as well as on the social media platforms of the State Choir LATVIJA.