New album spotlights contribution by organ music composer Indra Riše

Latvian composer Indra Riše has, throughout her extensive career, made a significant contribution to Latvian academic music. Over many decades, her works have been performed throughout the world. She composes in many different genres – chamber works, solo works, choir music, and she has composed a number of organ works.

It is Riše’s organ works that are the subject of the album Trumpets of Angels, released in 2021. Collecting works recorded over a fifteen-year period, the album spotlights Riše’s notable contribution to the field of organ music.

Riše’s primary collaborator throughout the years has been organist Ligita Sneibe, a relationship that has been ongoing for many decades. The work ‘Mijiedarbība’ (or ‘Interaction’), the earliest recording on the album (from 2000), features both Ligita Sneibe as well as flutist Imants Sneibis. The ‘interaction’ is between the organ and the flute, the work is a kind of a dialogue between the two instruments. A range of emotions is displayed throughout the nearly sixteen-minute work, and Riše weaves together not just the sounds of the instruments, but also allows each instrument to exhibit a unique personality in this expressive work.

The celebratory, resplendent ‘Eņģeļu taures’ (or ‘Trumpets of Angels’), also featuring Sneibe on organ, is a work dedicated to a deceased friend of Riše’s, and is given a vivid, shimmering performance by Sneibe. Sneibe is joined by flutist Anete Toča on the mystical, mysterious ‘Attālumi’ (or ‘Distances’). The work is divided into two sections, with the dreamy first section then transforming into an almost playful second section, with Toča’s flute giving the work an ethereal atmosphere.

Riše also combines the sound of the organ with vocals on the song cycle ‘Dziesmas par Laimi’, using poetry by the Latvian poet Rainis. On this song cycle, the organ is played by Ilona Birģele, and she is joined by soprano Inga Šļubovska-Kancēviča. The cycle, made up of five brief songs, is full of intensity and passion, as Riše’s composition vividly displays the emotions of these songs of happiness by Rainis. Šļubovska-Kancēviča’s soaring soprano vocals make for a natural fit for these texts, particularly in the ode to the sun in ‘Ar atplestām rokām’, and the aching longing of ‘Melnā apsega’.

‘Uguns rituāls’ (or ‘Fire Ritual’) is inspired by ancient rituals of the Baltic peoples and conjures an appropriately mystical atmosphere. As the composer notes in the CD booklet, the Baltic people would have fire rituals four times a year to mark the solstices and equinoxes. The organ, performed by Ligita Sneibe, makes for an enveloping listening experience, particularly in the section ‘Stihiju piesaukšana un ziedošana’, a work about evocation of the gods and sacrifice, which is at times reverent, at times ominous.

The CD booklet contains an extensive interview with the composer by Dāvis Eņģelis, covering many topics, including the composer’s influences and inspirations. One would have liked to hear more about the compositions themselves, but Riša does provide a few brief notes on each work in the booklet as well.

Indra Riše has established herself as one of the premiere composers in Latvia today, and this collection confirms her stature as a leading composer of organ works. Trumpets of Angels, which features the skills of many notable Latvian musicians and interpreters, also shows the many facets of the sound of the organ, confirming that the organ can still be relevant in modern music.

For further information, please visit Indra Riše’s website and the Skani website.

Trumpets of Angels

Indra Riše

LMIC/SKANi 090, 2021

Track listing:

  1. Eņģeļu taures

Attālumi

  • I
  • II

 Dziesmas par Laimi

  • Skūpsta ticība
  • Prieka ceļš
  • Smaidi mutē
  • Melnā apsega
  • Ar atplestām rokām

 Saules apmirdzētie

  • Laimīgie
  • Trauksme
  1. Mijiedarbība

 Uguns rituāls

  1. Pulcēšanās svētvietā
  2. Stihiju piesaukšana un ziedošana
  3. Aplī iešana

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . 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.

Survey launched to study remote working among Latvians living abroad and return migrants

Restrictions caused by the pandemic have sped up digitalisation processes worldwide and have led to companies and institutions wholly or partly shifting to remote working. Migration researchers at the University of Latvia launched a study with the aim to identify incentives that the government can utilise for Latvia to become a choice for remote working for members of the diaspora and return migrants, as well as to evaluate the main obstacles and necessary adjustments that need to be made to taxation, social support, labour market regulation and in other areas.

As the labour market is transformed, opportunities to make amendments to relevant legislation will help to include in the Latvian labour market those people who are working abroad, or the nature of whose work permits remote working, or, alternatively, promote return migration to Latvia, retaining employment abroad.

Within the scope of the study, commenced in June this year, we have already conducted in-depth interviews and have now launched a survey.

We invite the following people to complete the survey:

  • those of you who live abroad and return migrants who already work remotely or from home (regardless, in which country)
    OR
  • those of you whose work would allow them to work remotely either wholly or in part, without being restricted to a specific place.

Are you are in any of these categories? We would be grateful if you would be willing to spend approximately 15 minutes of your time to take part in this study.

The survey may be completed in either Latvian, English or Russian.

We hope this will allow us all to gain valuable information and will assist companies and institutions in Latvia in adapting to the transformation of the labour market in a timely manner, making it easier to work remotely – across borders.

The research project is implemented by the University of Latvia with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.

The survey may be completed until 24 September.

The findings of the study will be published on the website diaspora.lu.lv and migracija.lv.

Inta Mieriņa ir projekta "Labklājība un integrācija migrācijas kontekstā" zinātniskā vadītāja, ieguvusi socioloģijas doktora grādu Latvijas Universitātes Sociālo Zinātņu fakultātē.

Compilation of Imants Kalniņš’ orchestral works released on 5 CD set

Few Latvian composers have achieved a similar level of success and renown as Imants Kalniņš. Both his popular songs and academic works are beloved by many Latvians, and his contribution to Latvian culture is immeasurable.

His academic work, particularly for symphony orchestra, is a cornerstone of the Latvian academic music repertoire, and, recognizing this, the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Atvars Lakstīgala and Māris Sirmais) endeavored to record and release all of Kalniņš’ orchestral works. Released in 2020, the five CD set, entitled Imants Kalniņš: Complete Symphonies & Concertos, gathers all seven of Kalniņš’ symphonies, three concertos, and two additional symphonic works.

A few of the works on this collection were previously released on 2017’s Imants Kalniņš and on 2015’s Sound of Freedom, but this is the first time several of the works (particularly the early symphonies and concertos) are released on CD.

Kalniņš’ best known and most popular symphonic work remains his Symphony No. 4, composed in 1973, nicknamed the ‘Rock’ symphony for its use of rock instruments like bass guitar, as well as its driving percussion. The version on this set is with the instrumental fourth movement (as opposed to the vocal movement used in other releases of this symphony). The appearance of a work in this style (especially considering that it was the early 1970s, still deep within the Soviet occupation of Latvia), achieved a notable resonance in society, and, even today, the work, with its energy and melodic elements, still sounds fresh and vital.

Kalniņš’ first three symphonies, less well known and composed in more traditional, academic styles, still reveal many of the embryonic elements that would make Kalniņš so beloved over the coming decades. The first symphony, composed in 1964, is often weighty and harsh, possibly influenced by early 20th century Russian composers like Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Symphony No. 2 (1965) could be considered more theatrical, the orchestra expressing a kind of dramatic action, but with Kalniņš’ talent for melody now becoming readily apparent (particularly the gentle melody of the second movement). The brief and dance-like Symphony No. 3, with its airy, almost dainty sound, could almost be ballet music, but still has some jarring tonal shifts (the tense, percussive second movement becomes a tragic funeral march in the third movement).

Themes of mysticism and magic often can be found in Kalniņš’ popular songs, and his Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra (2012) also has a mystical atmosphere, with the composer using the sound of the oboe to conjure a vision of an enchanted place of mythical beings. This recording was conducted by noted choir conductor Māris Sirmais, which is perhaps why the sound of the oboe seems to simulate a voice or a song.

Kalniņš added a choir to his Symphony No. 6 (2001), and, on this recording, it is the State Choir Latvija, also conducted by Sirmais. Here Kalniņš is again in storytelling form, with evocative passages seemingly illustrating what might be a victory celebration. The choir appears in the tender, gentle second movement, singing love poetry by Rabindranath Tagore (the text is, unfortunately, not included in the liner notes), while in the fourth movement, the work takes a more somber, sacred turn. This symphony is one of Kalniņš’ most meditative works, presenting a kind of spiritual journey.

Imants Kalniņš is a towering figure in Latvian music, one that has achieved major success in both popular and academic genres, and this collection of his symphonic works serves as a fitting tribute to such an integral figure in Latvian music culture. The Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, conducted by both Atvars Lakstīgala and Māris Sirmais, reveal the vitality and the many facets of Kalniņš music, and Imants Kalniņš: Complete Symphonies & Concertos serves as an emphatic testament to Kalniņš’ indelible contribution not just to music, but to Latvia as well.

For further information, please visit the Skani website

Liepāja Symphony Orchestra

Imants Kalniņš: Complete Symphonies & Concertos

LMIC/SKANI 087, 2020

Track listing

CD 1

Soundtrack to the Film Pūt, vējiņi: Finale

Symphony No. 4

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

CD 2

Symphony No. 5

Concerto for Orchestra

CD 3

Symphonies No. 6 and 3

CD 4

Symphonies No. 1 and 2

CD 5

Symphony No. 7

Concerto for Oboe

Santa Cruz

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . 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.