Yin and yang unite in Zigrīdas kalpi

The recent fusion of two groups with youthful Australian Latvian musical talent has resulted in a new sound: Zigrīdas kalpi.

First there was Zigrīda ansamblis, a female kokle ensemble from Brisbane with a fresh approach to the ancient Latvian zither. A few years later in 2006 a group of Aussie-Latvian guys started creating their own original sound in Adelaide and the result was Kalna kalpi.

Says group member Tija Lodiņa of the synergy of the new configuration: “Zigrīda and Kalna kalpi play quite different music. KK have a very traditional, almost a pagan-meets-karavīru-dziesmas, whereas Zigrīda is more post-folk with world music influences. I think that what we bring to the table as individuals is amplified exponentially when we are together—we bounce ideas off each other, take small ideas and run with them until they become something big. And what keeps us going is a shared passion for creating music that we enjoy listening to.”

Zigrīdas kalpi’s first public performance came during the 52nd Latvian Arts Festival (Austrālijas latviešu Kultūras dienas) in Sydney at the end of December, a concert that was well received by the audience. Plans for the group include a performance at the National Folk Festival in Canberra from April 9-13. The festival is also scheduled to be the venue for the release of the combined group’s first compact disc.

Regarding other plans, Lodiņa continues: “We are all excited about the future, but are also realistic about what we can achieve with the restrictions we have, like day jobs, tertiary study and the fact that we live in different states. All of us feel that Zigrīdas kalpi is something really special to be a part of right now. If other opportunities present themselves we will definitely look at them as a group. If nothing else comes up, the ride—already—has been more than worth it.”

More information about Zigrīda ansamblis is available on the band’s Web site, while some details about Kalni kalpi may be found on the group’s MySpace page.

Daina Gross is editor of Latvians Online. An Australian-Latvian she is also a migration researcher at the University of Latvia, PhD from the University of Sussex, formerly a member of the board of the World Federation of Free Latvians, author and translator/ editor/ proofreader from Latvian into English of an eclectic mix of publications of different genres.

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