Choir Anima’s album of Livonian songs compelling, engaging

The Livonian language is one of the world’s most endangered languages, and it is spoken by less than fifty people worldwide. Though the Livonian culture has a thousand years of history, over time their numbers have dwindled, however, though their numbers are few, the remaining speakers, as well as many Livonian culture enthusiasts, have kept the language alive through music and songs.

Livonians, a Finno-Ugric people, lived mainly along the shores of the Baltic Sea in Latvia, in the Kurzeme region as well as the Vidzeme area. This served as the inspiration for Laura Leontjeva, conductor of the mixed choir Anima (who are based out of Saulkrasti, a town on the shores of the Gulf of Riga and an area where the Livonians lived), to record an album of choir works in the Livonian language. The album, entitled Jūrd. Saknes. Roots., was released in 2018.

Kokle virtuoso and composer Laima Jansone provides a driving arrangement of the Kurzeme Livonian folk song ‘Tšītšorlinkizt’ (or Chichor-birds), which also features a powerful vocal performance by Julgī Stalte, a singer of Livonian descent and a member of the traditional folk ensemble Skandinieki. The song, which compares the bounty of the local waters (elsewhere the flounder are weak), as well as the hard working girls of the village (elsewhere the girls are lazy), has a hypnotic quality to it, as the soaring vocal performances are balanced by the mantra-like chanting of the word ‘Tšītšorlinkizt’

The centerpiece of the collection is composer Uģis Prauliņš’ suite of Livonian folksongs entitled ‘Līvu sasaukšanās’ (or Livonians calling to each other), a multi-faceted collection that includes Livonian texts gathered from many different areas. The rousing ‘Kašķē, kangē’, a song about preparing for a wedding, begins this journey, which then leads to the more mystical ‘Urū! Rīrī’, a song about milking a cow. Prauliņš himself provides the synthesizer accompaniment, which is used with great effect in the celebratory ‘Līgo!’, a song of midsummer and the preternatural elements of that celebration.

The tender and tranquil ‘Lūotum’ (or ‘Hope’), a song with words by Julgī Stalte and music by Edgars Beļickis, closes out the collection, and provides for a serene conclusion, with its words about flowing with the Aģe river.

The CD booklet includes the texts for all the songs (in Livonian, Latvian, and English), as well as extensive notes on Livonian history, culture and language, presented by linguists Uldis Balodis and Valts Ernštreits in both Latvian and English. The booklet also includes notes on the even rarer dialects, such as the Ludza Estonians, or Lutsi, as well as the Leivi, southern Estonians that lived in the territory of Latvia.

Jūrd. Saknes. Roots. reveals that the Livonian language still has vitality and can inspire musicians and performers. Though the songs are in a language that very few will understand, the performances and arrangements are compelling and engaging, and the choir Anima and conductors Laura Leontjeva and Matīss Tučs provide vivid interpretations of these works. The album is not just a valuable document of a nearly extinct language, but also a musical journey that reveals the richness of Livonian heritage.

For further information, please visit the choir Anima website, as well as the Livonian heritage website.

Jūrd. Saknes. Roots.

Koris Anima

Lauska, CD085, 2018

Track listing:

  1. Tšītšorlinkizt – Laima Jansone

Līvu sasaukšanās – Uģis Prauliņš

  • Kaškē, kaņģē
  • Urū! Rirī!
  • Velikine armakene
  • Lelū!
  • Līgo!
  • Käkānikā
  • Aģoug – Uģis Prauliņš
  • Lūotum – Edgars Beļickis

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.

Latvian-Azerbaijani singer’s collection of lullabies meditative, soothing

LEILALI, or Leila Alijeva, is a singer, songwriter and arranger of both Latvian and Azerbaijani descent. LEILALI performs in meditative and calming style, fusing both Latvian and world elements into her songs. Her first album, Samtainā tumsa (or ‘Glowing Dreams’) was released in 2018, and is a collection of lullabies inspired by the music of many different world cultures.

As the title and song list would indicate (all the songs have either ‘dream’ or ‘lullaby’ in their titles), this will be a very placid and reserved collection of songs, all of which are quiet, even fragile – a kind of meditation or calm reflection. The artist describes the songs as being ‘full of unconditional love, care and acceptance to calm and support the soul’. On the album, Alijeva is joined by storyteller Inin Nini, guitarist and clarinetist Viesturs Melders, and Laura Melne performing additional instruments.

The artist also indicates the inspiration for each of the works, such as ‘Invocation of Dreams’, which was inspired by South American ceremonies and traditions. The minimalist performance, with just a few, sparse notes from the guitar and a repeated mantra of ‘nei nei nei’ brings the listener to a trance like state, the first step in the journey to the dream world.

‘God’s Lullaby’ begins with night sounds, which then leads into an a cappella chant, inspired by the indigenous South American tribe the Yaminawá, which then leads into a plaintive melody combined with a whispered Latvian child’s lullaby, which then gradually dissipates at the end of the song.

‘Lullaby from the Soul of the East’ begins a four song sequence that is inspired by lullabies from the four corners of the Earth, beginning with a song inspired by ancient Persian wisdom. The CD booklet contains little information about what LEILALI is actually singing about, which certainly adds to the mysteriousness of the performances, but one does occasionally wish that she added a bit more information about the inspiration for the songs, if not a translation of the words.

‘Lullaby from the Soul of the West’ then follows, inspired by a Native American song, and is a shamanistic song backed by rhythmic, pulsating drumming. ‘Lullaby from the Soul of the South’ has Balkan elements, combined with a whispered Latvian text, is accented with a mournful clarinet melody.

Latvian elements can be heard in the concluding song, ‘Lullaby from the Soul of the North’. With folk song quotations, along with a slow tolling of a gentle bell, the song then reaches a crescendo (which, for this album, is a very reserved crescendo), with the repeated refrain of ‘visapkārti-i gaisma ausa’ (the light dawned all around), and then floats off into a dreamy state at its conclusion.

LEILALI’s Samtainā tumsa is a soothing and immersive listen, at once deeply spiritual and pensive. Even though it is a quiet and reserved, the explorations of lullabies with world elements provides for a peaceful and relaxing journey.

For further information, please visit the LEILALI Facebook site.

Samtainā tumsa


Lauska 2018

  1. Invocation of Dreams
  2. Dream Ceremony
  3. Lullaby from the Heart
  4. God`s Lullaby
  5. Mother Earth`s Lullaby
  6. Lullaby from the Soul of the East
  7. Lullaby from the Soul of the West
  8. Lullaby from the Soul of the South
  9. Lullaby from the Soul of the North

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.

Latviešu zinātnieki Berlīnē atsaucīgi sadarbībai ar Latviju, veidojot kustību #ziniLV

Sestdien, 22.februārī, pēc Eiropas Latviešu apvienības (ELA) aicinājuma uz pirmo pieredzes apmaiņas un sadarbības diskusiju tikās Berlīnē strādājošie latviešu zinātnieki un pētnieki. Tikšanās apliecināja zinātnes diasporas gatavību sadarboties ar partneriem Latvijā gan zinātnes kopprojektos, gan plašākā zināšanu apritē – ar iesaisti praktiskās iniciatīvās inovāciju un tehnoloģiju pārneses jomā Latvijā vai rīcībpolitikas veidošanā. Tas sasaucas ar topošās zinātnes diasporas kopienas #ziniLV mērķiem.

“Pēc pieredzes gūšanas Dānijā un Vācijā vēlos savas zināšanas nodot Latvijai, sekmēt inovāciju pienesumu ilgtspējīgai – vides un sabiedrības priekšā  atbildīgai – attīstībai,” diskusijā uzsvēra Evita Milana, Dānijas Tehniskās Universitātes doktorante un Berlīnes Tehniskās Universitātes Uzņēmējdarbības centra tehnoloģiju pārneses menedžere. Pētniecības un sabiedrības norišu ciešā saikne atklājās arī kino pētnieces Astras Zoldneres atziņās, kuras analīze par senioru atspoguļojumu pēdējās desmitgades kinodarbos atklāj augošo nepieciešamību sabiedrības novecošanās kontekstā izskaust stereotipus par vecāka gadagājumu cilvēkiem.

Savukārt Lana Saksone, Šaritē psihiatrijas doktorante un metazinātnes pētniece Berlīnes Veselības institūtā, norādīja uz ieguvumiem, ko Latvijas zinātnes produktivitātei sniegtu sadarbība ar minētajām iestādēm zinātnes kvalitātes metrikas un indikatoru izstrādē. Pēc Aigas Šemetas, ģermānistikas pētnieces un latviešu valodas pasniedzējas Grefsvaldes Universitātē, pieredzes stāsta raisījās viedokļu apmaiņa arī par Latvijas un Igaunijas universitāšu salīdzinošo atvērtību sadarbībai ar ārvalstu pētniekiem, kā arī par nacionālās identitātes lomu zinātnes starptautiskajā kopienā. No Rīgas sarunā piedalījās Ieva Siliņa, Latvijas Jauno zinātnieku apvienības valdes priekšsēdētāja, kura norādīja uz to, ka šis ir īstais laiks, kad zinātniekiem atgriezties Latvijā, lai piedalītos zinātniskajā un reformu darbā Latvijas konkurētspējas celšanai; arī no ārvalstīm sadarbībai ir plašas iespējas, veidojot starptautiskus konsorcijus pētniecības grantu piesaistei un popularizējot zinātni Latvijas sabiedrībā.

Ar šo diskusiju ir aizsākta zinātnes diasporas kopienas #ziniLV veidošana, sadarbojoties IZM, ELA un citām diasporas organizācijām, kā arī ieinteresētajiem partneriem Latvijā. Šogad plānotas līdzīgas diskusijas ar latviešu zinātniekiem un pētniekiem  Minhenē (Vācijā), Cīrihē (Šveicē), un, iespējams, Vīnē (Austrijā), un interesi šo kustību izvērst izrādījuši arī latvieši Briselē (Beļģijā), un Upsalā (Zviedrijā). Sadarbībā ar Berlīnē darbojošos diasporas latviešu sarunu klubu “LaVa” intervijas ar zinātniekiem un pētniekiem paredzēts atspoguļot arī podkāstu formātā.

Lai sekotu informācijai par gaidāmajiem pasākumiem un sadarbības iespējām, ikviens ir aicināts pievienoties LinkedIn grupai “#ZinātneLatvijai – Vācijā, Austrijā un Šveicē”, kā arī sekot ar mirkļbirku #ziniLV iezīmētajai informācijai ELA mājas lapā ( un ELA Facebook vietnē. Ja vēlaties aktīvāk iesaistīties tīklošanās pasākumu un diskusiju rīkošanā savā pilsētā vai nozarē, sazinieties ar ELA, rakstot uz!

Informāciju sagatavoja: Elīna Pinto, / +352 691 981 524

* Sadarbības pasākumi ar diasporu zinātnē un pētniecībā tiek īstenoti Izglītības un zinātnes ministrijas īstenotā ERAF projekta Nr. “Integrētie nacionālā līmeņa pasākumi Latvijas pētniecības un attīstības interešu pārstāvības stiprināšanai Eiropas pētniecības telpā” ietvaros.

Elīna Pinto ir Eiropas latviešu apvienības politikas referente.