500 diaspora Latvians to be among song festival performers

About 500 Latvians from abroad—including a folklore ensemble from Luxembourg that accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total—will be among the thousands of singers and dancers participating in this summer’s All Latvian Song and Dance Festival, according to event organizers in Rīga.

The diaspora Latvians will be coming from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Groups include three folk dance troupes, the 49-member folklore ensemble from Luxembourg and 13 choirs, said Aiva Rozenberga, spokeswoman for the song festival.

The festival runs from July 5-12 in Rīga. The choirs will participate in the opening and closing concerts, while the dance troupes will take part in the grand performance in the Daugava Stadium.

Among the Latvian groups from abroad registered for the song festival are the Swedish-Danish Latvian Choir, directed by Arta Stepiņa; the Latvian Choir of Canada, directed by Andrejs Vītols; the Berlin Latvian Choir, directed by Rudīte Līvmane-Lindenbeck; the Latvian Choir of Stockholm, directed by Gaida Rulle; the Canadian folk dance troupe Daugaviņa led by Selga Apse; the Chicago Men’s Choir, directed by Māra Vārpa; the Straumēni Mixed Choir from the United Kingdom; the Latvian Choir eLVē from Ireland; the New York Latvian Choir, directed by Andrejs Jansons; the Jampadracis Latvian folk dance troupe from Ireland, led by Solveiga Slaidiņa; the folklore group Dzērves from Luxembourg, led by Aiga Ožehovska; and the Sydney Men’s Choir from Australia.

The number of diaspora participants has decreased since 1990, the first year Latvians from abroad significantly participated in a song festival in the homeland. A total of 841 diaspora Latvians in 28 groups were part of the 20th All Latvian Song and the 10th Dance Festival, according to festival organizers.

In 1993, a total of 27 Latvian groups from abroad with 700 persons participated in the 21st All Latvian Song and 11th Dance Festival.

Song festival organizers did not provide data for the 1998, 2001 or 2003 festivals, but Rozenberga confirmed that the number of diaspora participants has continued to decrease.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

4 thoughts on “500 diaspora Latvians to be among song festival performers

  1. Given the difficulties in getting tickets to the Song Festival events this year, with many people who relied on internet bookings experiencing frustration with the system and giving up in despairs, I wonder how many diaspora Latvians will be in the audience to watch their fellow countrymen perform? I think an investigation into the ticketing and its radical overhaul are needed.

  2. The Choir comming from Australia is a mixed choir and is called “Kengurzemes Atbalsis”. It has 32 voices that hail from the far flung corners of Australia including Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. On the 4th of May it participated in the “Song Accross Latvia Festival” by comming together in Melbourne for a weekend of combined rehearsing culminating in a dress rehearsal open to the Melbourne public. The conductors were Lolanta Larmane, Lilita Daenke, and Marija Perejma with wonderful accompaiment by Viktorija Macens. The Men from this choir plan to participate in the opening concert where they will sing the male choir repertoire.

  3. Don’t forget the other group from ‘downunder’ – Jurmalnieki dancers from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

  4. I know the Luxembourg group and they are not diaspora Latvians but Latvians temporarily working abroad. There is a difference.

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