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  • Latvian Radio Choir Celebrates Rainis and Aspazija in Nationalist Concert
    born 150 years ago this year Rainis words are the focal point of Brauns Daugava a cantata for choir and synthesizer that was composed in 1989 Brauns work has been widely celebrated throughout Latvia as the cantata s final movement Saule Perkons Daugava became a rallying cry for independence The song is a consistent staple of Latvia s important Song and Dance Festivals It is a not unsubstantial risk to intertwine two well known works as Music Director Sigvards Klava did in this programme The two cantatas come from vastly different sonic worlds Brauns Daugava is synthesizer heavy and reminiscent of mid eighties musical theater while Tas Vards combines the soaring melodies of art song with an edgy rock accompaniment It is a major accomplishment for Klava the musicians and light design team that the combined effect was as moving as it was So impressive was the total programme that it is difficult to imagine Lusens or Brauns pieces separate from one another Mezzo soprano Ieva Parsa shined as the star vehicle for Lusens cantata Her varied choices in colour and dynamic range heightened the nuances of the score and her movement through the simple staging felt graceful and unforced Her counterpart in Brauns Daugava tenor Janis Kursevs made the most of a small solo role with his penetrating stage presence As the object of affection for Parsa s Aspazija he was intense and focused Separated by a river of lights mounted on tripods the pair s chemistry was palpable The Latvian Radio Choir was impressive as they offered a commanding interpretation of Brauns dissonant but not complex score It was refreshing to hear the choir in this circumstance as they are so often occupied with the most difficult contemporary music in the repertoire Klava allowed them to sing with power while maintaining balance and clarity Klava should be applauded for his role as creative mastermind in this programme His programme notes emphasized the differences between Rainis and Aspazija Rainis supplying the political fire for a revolution while Aspazija served as the nation s soul and conscience Klava s research and insight into these great Latvian figures was evident in the performance as the programming and staging enhanced the alternating texts The simple stage and light design by Paula Plavniece and Janis Snikers added a powerful visual element to the excellent musical performance One hopes to see more of this creativity in the future at the National Library s Ziedona Hall Also of note in this performance was the participation of the composers as both Brauns and Lusens played at the keyboard for their respective works Brauns was particularly enjoyable to watch he was often moved to join the choir s singing as he played his most popular work from memory The Latvian Radio Choir will finish its 75th anniversary year with concerts in Rezekne Jurmala and Riga Their European Christmas program can be heard in Riga on 30 December Comments Related Articles Vilnius gets vision Gingerbread Mania 2015 Latvian

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/latvian_radio_choir_celebrates_rainis_and_aspazija_in_nationalist_concert/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Riga Bach Festival brings much-needed Baroque performance to Latvia
    Koln Kraemer s interpretations of early Baroque music have been praised for their vigor and intensity and that fire was on full display in Riga His virtuosic playing was highlighted in three sonatas by Buxtehude as well as one by the little known composer Jan Adam Reincken Matching Kraemer in dexterity if not intensity was the ensemble s second violinist Ricart Pellicer Their duets were a high point of the evening remarkably accurate with beautiful phrasing Equally impressive was Kiehr the featured soloist on four Buxtehude cantatas Kiehr has been heard around the world as a favored soloist of Rene Jacobs and Philippe Herreweghe and her operatic career has included works of Monteverdi Purcell Gluck and Cesti Kiehr s vocal tone and flexibility were a perfect match for the cantatas of Buxtehude relatively short pieces that demand tremendous agility to match the virtuosity of the string accompaniment Throughout several difficult passages Kiehr maintained her pristine soprano color thoughtful articulation and phrasing heightened the nuances of the texts The Rare Fruits Council performance is the latest example of the Riga Bach Festival s efforts to bring the world s finest Baroque specialists to Latvia a nation that is unfortunately devoid of early music performances In recent years the Festival has attracted renowned soloists and ensembles such as Jordi Savall Ton Koopman Collegium Vocale Gent and the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin The Bach Festival s website notes that its goal of presenting high quality Baroque music is a natural response to the era of Soviet occupation when Western classical music was not extensively performed due to censorship and artistic restrictions Beyond programs featuring guest artists from other countries Festival Director Aina Kalnciema has worked to include local performers including students and faculty at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Music Academy Kalnciema s Festival has thrived in spite of the increasing financial difficulties for small arts organizations in Latvia According to Kalnciema it becomes harder each year to organize the Festival We have always kept it at a high standard and maintained an enthusiastic audience The troubles facing the Riga Bach Festival are not unique with so many high caliber musical events in Riga there is stiff competition for funding and donors Foreign embassies that previously supported performances of their national artists have offered little help in recent years and major international brands have turned to larger events like the popular Positivus Festival for lucrative sponsorships Nonetheless Kalnciema looks to the future of the festival undeterred She is currently writing requests for sponsors and contemplating invitations to outstanding ensembles and soloists from Belgium France Italy and Spain Her ideal future for the festival would include additional masterclasses and student competitions to inspire interest in early music among Latvian music students The next concert of the Riga Bach Festival will feature the Munich Baroque Soloists in a program of Telemann Vivaldi and Fasch That performance can be heard on December 1st at 7 00pm in Riga s Small Guild Hall Amatu iela 3 Comments

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/riga_bach_festival_brings_much-needed_baroque_performance_to_latvia/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Arts & Events guide
    Conductor Robertas Servenikas Red Bull Flying Bach 20 00 Vilnius Congress Centre Vilniaus gatves 6 FRIDAY NOV 27 Red Bull Flying Bach 17 30 Vilnius Congress Centre Vilniaus gatves 6 Red Bull Flying Bach 20 00 Vilnius Congress Centre Vilniaus gatves 6 Red Giselle 18 30 Lithuanian National Opera Ballet Theatre Conductor Martynas Staskus SATURDAY NOV 28 4th Vilnius Piano Music Festival 19 00 Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall Closing of the Festival Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra artistic director Gidon KremerI soloist Mikhail Pletnev piano Programme Kovacs Tickmayer Webern Bach Mahler Haydn Cornet opera 18 30 Vilnius LNOBT Onute Narbutaite Conductor Robertas Servenikas SUNDAY NOV 29 Bang Crack Swish 12 00 Vilnius Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra Conductor Modestas Barkauskas Programme Grieg Anderson Strauss Saint Saens Prokofiev Offenbach and others The Nutcracker ballet 12 00 Vilnius LNOBT Tchaikovsky Conductor Martynas Staskus TUESDAY DEC 1 We Came As Romans USA 20 00 Vilnius Menu fabrikas Loftas Svitrigailos gatves 29 American heavy music band WEDNESDAY DEC 2 Glenn Miller Orchestra Christmas in the Mood 19 00 Vilnius Compensa concert hall Kernaves gatves 84 Coppelia ballet 18 30 Vilnius LNOBT Leo Delibes Conductor Robertas Servenikas Alexander Kniazev cello Kasparas Uinskas piano 19 00 Vilnius Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall Programme Shostakovich Franck Rachmaninov ESTONIA Black Nights Festival Festival ONGOING November 13 29 www pof ee THURSDAY NOV 19 Ensemble RUUT 15 00 Tallinn Estonia Concert Hall Concert series Matinee Arrangements of Estonian folk music Onegin ballet 19 00 Estonian National Opera Ballet by John Cranko after Alexander Pushkin Choreography and staging John Cranko Music Tchaikovsky arranged by Kurt Heinz Stolze Black Nights Film Festival Bang Gang A Modern Love Story 17 00 Viimsi Kino 2015 France Black Nights Film Festival The Fear 21 00 Coca Cola Plaza 2015 France Canada Black Nights Film Festival The Lobster 21 30 Solaris Kino 2015 Greece France UK Ireland Netherlands Black Nights Film Festival Grandma 21 45 Coca Cola Plaza 2015 USA FRIDAY NOV 20 Concert series Dream Big Jazz The Optimist Evald Vain 100 19 00 Tartu Vanemuine Concert Hall The Two Pigeons ENSO string and wind ensembles 19 00 Tallinn Estonia Concert Hall Romanticism II Puccini Messager Mozart Rossini Estonian National Symphony Orchestra s chamber ensembles This season will also feature ENSO chamber concerts where the smaller ensembles from the orchestra will perform exciting works of chamber music Carmen opera 19 00 Tallinn Estonian National Opera James Arthur Live 21 30 Tallinn Club Factory Tallinn One of the most popular British musicians in recent years will present his best compositions in an acoustic concert Winner of the ninth season of the British X Factor Rhapsody Queen Tribute UK 22 00 Tallinn Cafe Amigo Viru valjak 4 Black Nights Film Festival This Changes Everything 19 00 Solaris Kino 2015 Canada USA Black Nights Film Festival Wacken 3D Louder Than Hell 19 00 Solaris Kino 2014 Germany Black Nights Film Festival The Circle 20 45 Coca Cola Plaza 2015 Sweden Black Nights Film Festival The Extraordinary

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/arts___events_guide/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Star studded gala in support of journalism
    future of our democracy Next up was Elisabeth Braw an award winning journalist at The Economist Newsweek and The World Affairs Journal Braw has also taught at the Reuters Institute of Journalism at the University of Oxford and has reported extensively throughout the Baltic Sea region She spoke about the challenges faced by journalists in the 21st century and stressed the enduring importance of rigorous local journalism in today s news cycle She also highlighted the ability of journalism to counter corruption by delving beneath the surface of current events She applauded the Riga based investigative journalist unit RE Baltica in this respect Dreaming big won t turn every young reporter into a Woodward or Bernstein and indeed there will more likely be a lot of slogging in the local news department Braw told The Baltic Times But that has great value too because if journalists don t report on local corruption or potholes that are never repaired who will As Albert Camus said a free press can be good or bad but press without freedom can only be bad Next after servings of wine came Slava Rabinovich a Russian American hedge fund manager and an overnight internet sensation with over 100 000 followers reading his analysis of the future of the Russian economy and its politics The underlying theme of the event was the importance of social media and Rabinovich s prolific blogging has gathered popularity which far exceeded his own expectations His standing in the world of social media is fascinating proof that social media is a vital component not only for traditional media to get their message to an ever wider audience but for individuals with a fresh perspective and a story to tell I don t call myself blogger but I have been ranked in the top ten Russian language speaking bloggers in the world said Rabinovich Rabinovich was himself stripped of Soviet citizenship just before the collapse of the USSR and he applied for political refugee status at the US Embassy in Rome He flew into the US as a refugee Rabinovich travelled east again in 1996 moving to Russia to start working at the investment fund and asset management company Hermitage Capital Management a company specializing in Russian markets which was to become astoundingly successful under the leadership of its founders Bill Browder and Edmond Safra The fund was to become the largest investment fund in the world in Russia managing assets of 4 billion dollars Rabinovitch mentioned during his speech Hermitage Capital ended up in tragedy and triumph A Russian government crackdown led to the imprisonment and subsequently the death of Browder s lawyer Sergey Magnitsky in jail as Hermitage Capital was barred from operating on the Russian market But the triumph came when Browder was able to push through landmark legislation in the United States the Magnitsky Act which calls for stricter regulation of money laundering from Russia Rabinovich went on to be the Founder Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/star_studded_gala_in_support_of_journalism/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Riga’s Wagner Hall: an historic theater in dire disrepair
    Finance In 2011 Hanza Projekts Ltd supervised the examination and analysis of the Wagner Hall s technical condition subsequent follow up work occurred during autumn 2012 Since then no further analysis or renovation has taken place in this rapidly declining building Information from the website of The Richard Wagner Theater House Renovation Fund of Riga states that Hanza Projekts conclusions reaffirmed the cultural historical and artistic value of architectural details that should be restored as well as the unsatisfactory condition of the building s foundation and weight bearing structures Yet in spite of the study s recommendations to stabilize and reinforce the building s foundation it has not been done It becomes apparent that necessary leadership in the Latvian government is nonexistent to resurrect this formerly majestic building as it falls into a state of tragic disrepair A building that once bustled with artistic activity now suffers from deep cracks in the walls and ceiling Renovation becomes even more urgent when one considers the building s illustrious musical legacy which belongs not only to the cultural heritage of Riga and Latvia but indeed to all of Europe Throwing in moral support to discussions of the building s future Latvia s Ministry of Culture trumpets The cultural and historical significance of the Wagner Hall is undoubted However a lengthy list of necessary rebuilding projects has placed pressure on the availability and allocation of government funds Included amongst these projects was the 2013 restoration of the fire ravaged Riga Castle a 16th century building that serves as the official residence of the President of Latvia At time of publication The Baltic Times has not received a response from State Real Estate regarding the current status of the building Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Culture Dagnija Grinfelde states The Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the State Real Estate has considered the possibility to renovate the Wagner Hall through a private partnership partly providing the cultural function in the building Unfortunately there is no necessary funding in the state budget for this purpose In addition to lack of state funds it must be considered that private funds will be difficult to come by due to the fractious nature of Wagner s character A known anti Semite Wagner s works were held in high regard by the Third Reich and undoubtedly served as an inspiration to some who took up the cause of the Nazi party Indeed this once great concert hall will require substantial financial backing from the government or private sector if it is to be restored to its former state The Richard Wagner House Renovation Fund of Riga was founded in 2014 to popularize the idea that renovations are urgently required The Renovation Fund however is currently not seeking donations and has no balance This comes according to Gunars Nagels Director of the Museum of the Occupation in Latvia Our work has stagnated since the beginning of the year due to various reasons but I hope that will change

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/riga___s_wagner_hall__an_historic_theater_in_dire_disrepair/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Eurovision qualifier breaks record
    238 submitted entries is recognition of years of work Eesti Laul producer Mart Normet said It also testifies that the time has come to grow There is no doubt whatsoever that holding the final in Saku Suurhall is the only right decision Elina Born and Stig Rasta who represented Estonia in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in May raised the bar high It is to be hoped that this year s crop contains some at least as good and timeless songs as theirs Normet said The 11 member jury will gather on Wednesday and Thursday to pick the top 20 entries competing in the semifinals The list will be unveiled on Nov 5 In eight years of Eesti Laul a total of 1 366 new songs have been submitted The winner of Eesti Laul 2016 will represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm next year Comments Related Articles Vilnius gets vision Gingerbread Mania 2015 Latvian State Choir launches ambitious project for nation s centenary Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Related Articles ARTS EVENTS GUIDE Estonia A nation shaped by the sea The Capital of Empty Spaces Dealing with the shrinking of the Great Baltic City Italian Riga s Casa Nostra restaurant Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the latest Baltic news and views enabling you full access from anywhere with an Internet connection Subscribe Now About The Baltic Times The Baltic Times is an independent monthly newspaper that covers latest political economic business and cultural events in Estonia Latvia and Lithuania Born of a merger between The Baltic Independent and The Baltic Observer in 1996 The Baltic Times continues to bring objective comprehensive and timely information to those

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/eurovision_qualifier_breaks_record/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Estonia voted ‘best value destination’ by Lonely Planet
    Stockholm or Helsinki then Estonia can feel like the promised land Why That chunk of change in your pocket you ve had since last leaving the eurozone will buy you a round of drinks Upsizing from a hostel to hotel might seem like a good and affordable idea Best of all what you get in exchange for your hard earned cash is experiencing a gloriously distinctive slice of Europe where Eastern and Nordic influences mix together The country s western islands Saaremaa Hiiummaa and Muhu were also singled out as great places to go and the forest delights of Lahemaa National Park which holds the distinction of being the first national park in the old Soviet Union were also mentioned Estonia was the only Baltic nation to make the list and beat Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi in Vietnam and East Africa to claim the top spot Galicia in Sopain Bosnia and Hercegovina were the only other European destinations featured and the rest of the list was made up by New Mexico Quebec City Canada Costa Rica s Caribbean coast Timor Leste and Western Australia Comments Related Articles Vilnius gets vision Gingerbread Mania 2015 Latvian State Choir launches ambitious project for nation s centenary Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Related Articles ARTS EVENTS GUIDE Estonia A nation shaped by the sea The Capital of Empty Spaces Dealing with the shrinking of the Great Baltic City Italian Riga s Casa Nostra restaurant Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the latest Baltic news and views enabling you full access from anywhere with an Internet connection Subscribe Now About The Baltic Times The Baltic Times is an independent monthly newspaper that covers

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/estonia_voted____best_value__destination____by_lonely_planet/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Lithuania’s forgotten Muslim heroes
    adopted Christianity along the Duchy s own tolerant lines the Tatars flourished becoming landowners tradesmen bureaucrats and high ranking military officers However as time passed and various rulers of the Duchy took a more conservative approach contact with the east and the Crimea stopped This led to the Baltic Tatars becoming isolated from their ancestral roots and co religionists By the 18th century they had lost the use of the Qipchaq language We have evidence that 250 years ago the community was using the Arabic alphabet to write Slavic words They had lost the Qipchaq language by this time says Mufti Yaqoob In the 19th century when the famous Russian Tatar Orientalist Muhammad Murad Ramzi wrote about the community he also observed that their understanding of Islam had been affected by isolation claiming it had become nothing more than an identity What limited knowledge of Islam they did have took a further blow in the 20th century when Lithuania became part of the deeply secular USSR It was the worst time All the people of religion and knowledge were either killed or sent into exile Archives were burnt Communities were closed Islam was forbidden says Mufti Yaqoob Before the Soviet era Lithuania had around 25 mosques scattered all over the country including the capital Vilnius Today only three survive none of which are in the capital They are all in obscure unimportant villages like Keturiasdesimt Totoriu European Lithuanian mosques Most people have to look twice Initially the mecete mosque in Keturiasdesimt Totoriu looks just like any other wooden hut you might see all over the Baltic countryside a dark brown square made of neat vertical timber slats with a few small simple square windows and an apexed tin roof It is unlike the mosques seen everywhere else in the world no arabesque designs adorn the front nor does it have a minaret by its side The only clue is a crescent atop an ornate little turret with a small onion dome where the tin roof s point should be Even the turret seems to belong elsewhere a Russian church maybe The Keturiasdesimt Totoriu mecete is the most European looking mosque you are likely to see anywhere on the continent It is a mosque completely at home in the Lithuanian countryside This is hardly surprising given that a mosque has stood here since 1558 maybe even earlier In the mosque s cemetery there are graves said to date back to that time though few markings remain except on one Allahberdi s grave from around 1621 is probably the oldest identifiable Muslim grave in all of northern Europe I cannot say I am something else I m a local I m a citizen I cannot say that my parents came from somewhere else I m Lithuanian says Mufti Yaqoob His words echo the sentiments of Lithuanian Muslim Tatars all over the country including the 120 still living in Keturiasdesimt Totoriu some of whom claim direct descent to that very first community of

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/lithuania___s_forgotten_muslim_heroes/ (2016-02-13)
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