Par ĀM jauno speciālo uzdevumu vēstnieku diasporas jautājumos kļuvis Pēteris Kārlis Elferts

Par Ārlietu ministrijas (ĀM) jauno speciālo uzdevumu vēstnieku diasporas jautājumos kļuvis diplomāts Pēteris Kārlis Elferts, kurš līdz šim bijis Saeimas priekšsēdētājas Solvitas Āboltiņas ārlietu padomnieks, savukārt pirms tam – Latvijas ārkārtējais un pilnvarotais vēstnieks Īrijā.

Pēteris Kārlis Elferts iepriekš strādājis par speciālo uzdevumu vēstnieku Irākas atjaunošanā un demokratizācijas veicināšanā, kā arī par Latvijas vēstnieku Pastāvīgajā pārstāvniecībā Eiropas Padomē. Tāpat vēstnieks iepriekš bijis Latvijas Ministru prezidenta padomnieks, Ārlietu ministrijas parlamentārais sekretārs, kā arī ieņēmis arī citus augstus amatus Latvijas valsts nozaru ministrijās un bijis 5. Saeimas deputāts.

Vēstnieka pieredze arī plaši saistīta ar darbošanos diasporas organizācijās un diasporas sabiedriskajā dzīvē: Pēteris Kārlis Elferts bijis Pasaules Brīvo latviešu apvienības pārstāvniecības vadītājs Rīgā, strādājis par skolotāju Sietlas latviešu skolā un Minsteres Latviešu ģimnāzijā, kā arī bijis Latviešu biedrības Vašingtonas štatā priekšsēdis un valdes loceklis.

Ārlietu ministrijas preses un informācijas nodaļa

New release by legendary rock group Jumprava

Famed Latvian synth rock outfit Jumprava, who, having been performing off and on for 30 years, are one of Latvia’s most venerable groups. Though their zenith of popularity was in the early 1990s, they have been one of the most consistent ensembles throughout their decades of activity. Jumprava have stayed true to their electronic roots, and remain one of the most beloved Latvian bands of all time. Songs like ‘Ziemeļmeita’, ‘Tālu aizgāja’, ‘Vēlreiz’, among many others, earned them a place in the Latvian rock pantheon.

It has been a long hiatus for the band. Their last recorded output was Izredzētais, an album of music from the musical of the same name that was performed in Latvia in 2007. Their previous album of new material, Inkarmo, was released in 2005. Perhaps it is no surprise that the group has had limited activity in recent years – member Aigars Grauba has branched out into a very successful film career – directing some of the most popular Latvian movies in recent memory, such as Sapņu komanda 1935 and Rīgas sargi. However, in 2014, after this long silence, the group has returned with their latest album entitled Laiks runā.

Besides vocalist and instrumentalist Aigars Grauba, the group’s core members remain vocalist and guitarist Aigars Grāvers, as well as instrumentalists Ainārs Ašmanis and Aigars Krēsla.

Though the album itself is new, the group noted that many of the songs on the album are actually very old songs, but recorded for the first time. The band members listened to old concert recordings and ‘resurrected’ some of these songs and gave them a proper and modern treatment, as many had been unfairly forgotten.

The combination of both old and new material gives the album a sense of duality. Though certainly the synth rock style that Jumprava gained famed with is firmly rooted in the 1980s and early 1990s, Jumprava still are able to give their songs a fresh sound that never seems dated or even quaint.

The fire that Jumprava displayed in earlier songs like ‘Zem 2 karogiem’ and ‘Prom no pilsētas’ still burns brightly in songs like ‘Glāb’ (music by Grāvers, lyrics by Ritvars Dižkačs), where vocalist Grauba exhorts ‘Glāb mani – es sen vairs negribu būt kosmonauts‘ (Save me, I no longer want to be an astronout) over a thundering beat.

The song ‘Kareivis’ (music by Grāvers, lyrics by Jānis Baltauss), as its title (‘Soldier’) would imply, is in a similar vein, about a soldier dying in a battlefield, and, as time passes, new stems and new rye fields will grow, creating a new battlefield.

Jumprava have always balanced their driving and aggressive songs with more tender moments, and such a moment is on the song ‘Gaiss’ (music by Krēsla, lyrics by Rolands Ūdris), where Grāvers’ hypnotic vocals, repeating the phrase ‘nevar būt par daudz tevis’ (it is not possible to have too much of you) lulls the listener with the song’s dreamy atmosphere.

The decision to record songs that have been in the group’s repertoire for years, if not decades, give this album a sound that harkens back to their golden age of the early 1990s, and that, for many listeners, will make this record particularly enjoyable. Retaining their sense of melody, thoughtful lyrics, and even quirkiness that sustained their popularity for all these decades, Jumprava reestablish themselves as one of the premiere ensembles in Latvia today. Though they have gone for nearly a decade without recording new music, Laiks runā is an exceptional return to form, verifying that Jumprava remain at the top of their game and remain one of the undisputed cornerstones of Latvian rock music.

For further information, please visit Jumprava’s website.

 

Jumprava - Laiks runa

Track listing:

  1. Sākums
  2. Saucējs
  3. Laiks teiks
  4. Neesmu varonis
  5. Glāb
  6. Kur sākums
  7. No rīta
  8. Gaiss
  9. Kareivis
  10. Māmiņ
  11. Ilgas
  12. Gaisma nāk
  13. Sapņu nesējs

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area who lives in Rīga, Latvia. When not working in the information technology field, he sings in the Latvian Academy of Culture mixed choir Sõla, does occasional translation work, and has been known to sing and play guitar at the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs in Old Rīga. Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

Women’s choir Balta records first solo CD

It seems choir music could never be forgotten in Latvia, as choir music, along with folk dancing, enjoys its peak of popularity every five years at the Latvian Song Festival, the last of which was in 2013. Besides bringing together more than 10,000 singers onto one stage, the entire year is spent in celebration of song, and allows for less well known choirs to have their moments in the spotlight.

One choir that shone particularly brightly during the 2013 Song Festival season was the women’s choir Balta, who were recognized as the best women’s choir during the traditional Koru kari competition that is always held the same year as the Song Festival. To celebrate this victory and their achievements, in 2014, the choir recorded its first solo CD, (somewhat unimaginatively) titled Latviešu kormūzika (Latvian Choral Music).

Balta, who were founded in 1999, have been, since their founding, led by conductor and artistic director Māra Marnauza (who also founded the respected chamber choir Fortius). In their 15 years, the choir has had much success in competitions all over Europe.

As they are a women’s choir, it should be no surprise that many of the songs are of a feminine nature and sung from a girl’s point of view.

According to the choir’s website, modern Latvian choir music is particularly significant to them, and this is reflected on the selections on the CD. Though there are some selections from the classic era of Latvian choir music, such as Pēteris Barisons’ ‘Melodijas’ and Jēkabs Graubiņš’ arrangement of ‘Es meitiņa kā smildziņa’, the bulk of the songs are from the modern era.

Composer Ilona Rupaine, who has made a name for herself with her arrangements of Latvian folksongs (witness another Song Festival favorite – the majestic and brilliant arrangement of ‘Saule bridu rudzu lauku’) is represented on this collection by her arrangement of the Latgallian folk song ‘Moseņ’ zeileit’ viesti nesa’, and this mystical song is performed with both mystery and grace by Balta.

One of the most popular compositions at the 2013 Song Festival was composer Ēriks Ešenvalds’ ‘Dvēseles dziesma’ (words by Anita Kārkliņa), and Balta provide their version of this song that extolls the beauty and uniqueness of the regions of Latvia. The original version of the song was for mixed choir, so it is interesting to hear this performed by a women’s choir instead, adding a new dimension to it. Still, though soloist Jānis Misiņš has a powerful voice, his performance is perhaps a bit too operatic, sounding slightly out of place on what is meant to be a tender and soft song about the beauties of Latvia.

The album concludes with composer Kārlis Lācis’ arrangement of the Latvian folk song ‘Es bij’ meita’. Lācis, known for his jazzy arrangements in a popular music style, brings equal measures of humor and playfulness to this song. The choir, defiantly singing about how a girl chooses to remain single for the time being (turning away all suitors – one too fat, one too skinny, one without teeth, and one with pants sagging due to women-chasing), appear at once equally charming and flirtatious. Both ‘Es bij’ meita’ and ‘Dvēseles dziesma’ also feature the nimble piano work of pianist Laimrota Kriumane, whose light touch adds to the charm of both of these performances.

The female choir genre in Latvia (much like the male choir genre) has long been underrepresented in Latvia, and it is a pleasure to have a women’s choir like Balta reconfirming that there is still much beauty and life in these songs. The choir Balta, under the able leadership of Māra Marnauza, have established themselves as one of the premiere women’s choirs in Latvia today. Latviešu kormūzika, covering both old and new, the traditional and the modern, confirm the multifaceted choir’s diversity and ability to shine, no matter the material.

For further information visit the choir’s website.

 

Balta - Latviesu kormuzika

Track listing:

1. Ganu dziesma – Pēteris Vasks

2. Ķekatu dziesma – Pēteris Vasks

3. O salutaris Hostia – Ēriks Ešenvalds

4. Dvēseles dziesma – Ēriks Ešenvalds

5. Ticība – Roberts Liede

6. Melodijas – Pēteris Barisons

7. Lūgšana – Bruno Skulte

8. Es meitiņa kā smildziņa – Jēkabs Graubiņš

9. Caur sidraba birzi gāju – Juris Vaivods

10. Moseņ’ zeileit’ viesti nesa – Ilona Rupaine

11. Es bij’ meita – Kārlis Lācis

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area who lives in Rīga, Latvia. When not working in the information technology field, he sings in the Latvian Academy of Culture mixed choir Sõla, does occasional translation work, and has been known to sing and play guitar at the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs in Old Rīga. Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.