Folklorists Rūta and Valdis Muktupāvels tour North America

Latvian folklore duo Rūta and Valdis Muktupāvels are performing throughout the United States and Canada, and one of their stops included a performance at the Latvian Lutheran Church in Yonkers, New York, on Saturday, November 16th, as part of the Latvian independence celebration event.

Their performance included Latvian folk songs from all the historical regions of Latvia, including Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Latgale, Zemgale, as well as Selonia (Sēlija). Additionally, the duo performed songs from throughout the Baltic region, including songs from Lithuania, ancient Prussia and Yotvingia.

Rūta and Valdis Muktupāvels perform in a very traditional and authentic style, singing either unaccompanied or with a single instrument. The repertoire was varied, with folk songs of many styles and themes, from wedding songs to dances to children’s songs. The duo incorporated many different instruments in their performance, including the kokle, vargāns (Jew’s harp), guitar, bagpipes, among others.

They were joined by the students of the Yonkers and New Jersey Latvian schools for three songs – two Latvian folk songs ‘Ar vilciņu Rīgā braucu’ and ‘Maza, maza ābelīte’, as well as an original work by Valdis Muktupāvels, ‘Mīl katrs baltu maizes riku’ (words by Imants Ziedonis).

This concert and the duo’s tour were made possible by the Latvian Cultural Society TILTS, with support from the World Federation of Free Latvians (PBLA), the Latvian Ministry of Culture, as well as the American Latvian Association (ALA).

For further information, please visit the TILTS website.

Photo: Kristina Rathode

Rūta Muktupāvela and Valdis Muktupāvels at the Latvian Lutheran Church in Yonkers, NY with the New Jersey and Yonkers Latvian Schools’ combined children’s choir.

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.

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