Latvian music academy names pianist Ozoliņš honorary professor

Latvian-Canadian pianist Arturs Ozoliņš has been named a honorary professor of the Rīga-based Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, which last year marked its 90th anniversary.

The academy announced the selection Sept. 7. Ozoliņš, who studied in Toronto, Paris and New York, is to receive the honor during the academy’s 91st anniversary concert, which is scheduled Jan. 11. Ozoliņš was chosen, according to a press release from the academy, for his work in popularizing Latvian music and for his unrelenting pride in his Latvian heritage.

Ozoliņš becomes the 33rd honorary professor chosen by the academy, which is the only higher education institution in Latvia devoted to music, according to school’s website. Other recently named honorary professors include composer Pēteris Vasks, conductor Mariss Jansons and pianist Vilma Cīrule.

The 64-year-old Ozoliņš was born in Lübeck, Germany. His parents were World War II refugees from Latvia. From Germany, the family moved to Argentina, but when Ozoliņš was 12 they resettled to Canada. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia of Music, at age 14 Ozoliņš was chosen by conductor Walter Susskind to perform a concerto with the National Youth Orchestra. In the 1960s he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Nadia Reisenberg at New York’s Mannes College of Music. Ozoliņš also studied with Vlado Perlmuter in Paris.

The encyclopedia describes Ozoliņš as “a champion of Latvian piano music in Canada and abroad” and notes that he has recorded works by Latvian composers Jānis Medins and Tālivaldis Ķeniņš.

Ozoliņš has performed many times with orchestras in Canada and the United States, as well as in France, Russia, Australia, Lithuania and Latvia.

In 1981, Ozoliņš won the Juno Award, presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, for the best classical music recording. In 2002, the Latvian Ministry of Culture honored Ozoliņš with a Great Music Award (Lielā mūzikas balva) for his performance in Rīga of piano music by composer Lūcija Garūta as well as for his work in popularizing Latvian music around the world. Ozoliņš also has been awarded the Order of Three Stars, Latvia’s highest civilian honor.

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