Choir director Gido Kokars to receive Great Music Award

Choir director Gido Kokars is to receive the Great Music Award (Lielā mūzikas balva) for his lifetime of achievement, the award’s nominating committee announced Jan. 7 in Rīga. Kokars has led several choirs through his career, has taught at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music and has been principal conductor of several Latvian Song Festivals.

His twin brother Imants, also a well-known choir director and teacher, received the award in 1995.

The Great Music Award is the highest state honor for musical achievement. It was initiated in 1993 by popular composer Raimonds Pauls, who at the time was the minister of culture.

Nominees for other awards are:

  • For debut of the year, pianist Andrejs Osokins, opera singer Rihards Bramanis, and composer and percussionist Rihards Zaļupe.
  • For concert of the year, the vocal group Cosmos; the concert “Dāvida dziesmas” featuring Gunta Davidčuka, Kristīne Adamaite and Artis Sīmanis; and the Oct. 18 opening concert of the Arena Music Festival.
  • For work in an ensemble, Agnese Kanniņa-Liepiņa, Diāna Ozoliņa and Jānis Stafeckis.
  • For individual achievement in Latvia, Diāna Ketlere for her Sept. 23 concert “Eiropas kamermūzikas šedevri” in the Small Guild; singer Intars Busulis for his concerts of jazz and cabaret music and for concerts in support of his album Kino; and Latvian National Opera soloist Krišjānis Norvelis.
  • For interpretation, the chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga for its Oct. 18 performance during the Arena Music Festival; the Riga Dome Boys Choir for its Dec. 30 and 31 concerts in the Luther Church in Rīga; and singer Ieva Parša for her performance in the Nov. 12 concert “Kaislību spēles.”
  • For performance of the year, the youth choir Kamēr for its July 3-4 concerts in the University of Latvia and for its compact disc Pasaules Saules dziesmas; the Nov. 17 performance, conducted by Imants Resnis, of Gustav Mahler’s “8th Symphony” in Arēna Rīga; the Latvian National Opera for the Richard Wagner opera “Zigfrīds.”
  • For new compositions, Andris Dzenītis for “Let it be Forgotten” and “Baložu pasts”, and Gustavs Fridrihsons for “Chiaroscuro.”

The awards will be presented March 3 in the Latvian National Opera in Rīga.

For more on the awards, visit, where music fans also will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites.

Zuika un brāļi Kokari

Honorary principal conductors (from left to right) Roberts Zuika, Gido Kokars and Imants Kokars chat during the opening concert of last summer’s Latvian Song and Dance Celebration in Rīga. (Photo by Aivars Liepiņš, Song and Dance Celebration Office)

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

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