July 02, 2012
The mixed choir Sõla, of the Latvian Academy of Culture, performed for United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, American ambassador Judith Garber, and other guests at the United States Embassy in Rīga, Latvia on Thursday, June 28. The choir performed the song “Līgo!”, a folk song arrangement by Ārijs Škepasts.
The event was to celebrate the renaming of the street on which the embassy is located, from “Remtes iela” to “Samnera Velsa iela”, in honor of Sumner Welles, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, who refused to acknowledge the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union in 1940.
Sõla is traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to participate in the World Choir Games. It is the only choir representing Latvia at this event, though Latvia will also be represented by the ensemble Latvian Voices. The choir will be competing in three categories – sacred music, folk music, and mixed choir repertoire. Sõla, along with mayor Nīls Ušakovs, will also be representing Rīga, as the 2014 World Choir Games will take place in the Latvian capital.
This event can be viewed on the Saeima’s You Tube link.
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.
Choir Sõla with Secretary Clinton as well as Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia. Photo courtesy of the United States Embassy in Riga, Latvia