News from Latvia

Full report on the The 10th International Latvian Young Musicians’ Masterclasses in Sigulda (Latvia) by Dace Aperāne

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Sigulda-previewThe main theme of this 10th edition of the Internaitonal Latvian Young Musicians’ Masterclasses was New Dimensions in Music, and took place from July 14 – 23 in the spacious and welcoming Sigulda Arts School. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the master classes, which have taken place biannually in Latvia since 1994, 16 concerts took place in Riga, the Sigulda Castle chamber music hall and the beautiful White Grand Piano Concert Hall. Dr. Ingrīda Gutberga (USA) and Normunds Vīksne (vice-rector of Academic Work at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music) were the directors of the master classes. Dace Aperāne (USA) was the artistic director and Guntars Zvejnieks (director of the Sigulda Arts School) was the administrator of the master classes.

Throughout the 9 day professional music program there were master classes in piano, strings, percussion and woodwind instruments, composition, conducting, music pedagogy, voice, vocal and instrumental jazz, as well as chamber music, chamber orchestra, chorus and John Cage’s “Songbooks” ensemble rehearsals. 98 young musicians from all of Latvia’s music high schools, the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, the Riga Teacher Training and Educational Management Academy and music institutions in Germany and Switzerland, participated with a wonderful sense of dedication and purpose in their musical studies, activities and concerts.

The participants and master class teachers represented 10 countries: Latvia, Lithuania, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Greece and the United States. The faculty of outstanding musicians and guest lecturers consisted of many former master classes’ participants, such as the pianist Lauma Skride, oboist Egils Upatnieks, composers Gundega Šmite, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Andris Dzenītis, Mārtiņš Viļums, Rolands Kronlaks and others.

Chamber music ensembles were coached by Gunta Sproģe (JVLMA Chamber Music department chair), pianist Lauma Skride, duo pianists Antra and Normunds Vīksne, flutist Dace Bičkovska and composer Peteris Plakidis. Artists and instructors from Europe also participated – Gunārs Larsens (violin, Switzerland), Andra Dārziņa (viola, Germany), Nigel Smith (France), the afore-mentioned Lauma Skride (piano, Germany) , Martiņs Viļums (composer, Lithuania) and Dimitri Maronidis (composer, Aristotle University, Greece). Latvian Radio 3 – Klasika and Estonian Klassikaraadio included the master classes in their “Radio Classics Project” and produced a special video about the master classes.

A series of lectures and discussions concerning New Dimensions in music pedagogy were led and coordinated by Aurika Gulbe (Riga Teacher Training and Educational Management Academy) and Gunta Melbārde (Jazeps Medins First Music School). Composer Pēteris Vasks encouraged an audience of music teachers to devote more time to the teaching of Latvian chamber and other music. Pianist Liene Circene described her experiences in working with young children in an Orff-based music program at the Sigulda Arts School. Many lecturers, such as Kaspars Bikše, Diāna Zandberga, Pauls Berkolds, Artūrs Cingujevs, Valters Pūce, Guntars Zvejnieks and others discussed a variety of topics relating to new developments in methodology, interdisciplinary approaches, performance practices and technology. Gundega Šmite (Chairperson of the Latvian Composers’ Union) led and coordinated a series of lectures and activities for the Composition master classes, based on new electronic and computer technology. One of the guest lecturers was the American composer Dana Paul Perna, who spoke about music composition in the Digital Age.

The Latvian Minister for Culture, Žaneta Jaunzeme - Grende , attended the closing concert of the master classes and in congratulating the hall filled with young musicians, called on them to develop their individual and unique talents as fully as possible. A concert of Latvian orchestral music under the direction of conductor Normunds Dreģis (Latvia) and choral music under the direction of Anita Kuprisa (USA) and Janis Baltiņš (Latvia) brought the master classes to a jubilant conclusion, with many students expressing a great interest in returning to the next master classes in 2014.

Young musicians from music high schools, academies, conservatories and universities are encouraged to consider participating in the XI International Latvian Young Musicians’ Master Classes, with the main theme of Baroque In Our Time, from June 30 to July 9, 2014 once again in Sigulda, Latvia. Information will be posted soon on the following website: