What do you get when you put together 40 talented and energetic young singers, a creative and persistent conductor, Ints Teterovskis, the River Daugava and the Latvian countryside? You get 17 inspired concerts in a range of uncommon and more familiar venues and gratified audiences, as well as some amazing experiences for the choristers and the author.

This was the final year that the Youth Choir BALSIS headed down the Daugava, this time finishing in Riga, with a flow-on effect to Stockholm, having started at the Belarus border seven years ago. As they travel along the Daugava, they stop to perform concerts on both sides of the river.

  

This year they braved all sorts of weather conditions, including winds that churned up the waters of the Daugava and dowsed the boats, driving rain which soaked all of the choristers and rolling waves that made them totter on the ferry crossing like teenage girls in their first pair of stilettos. Yet they don’t mind because they want to sing, they love Latvian choral music and they want to share this love, and they all revere the opportunity to take part in these trips and point out the joy that they experience when they perform in country venues. And it is all worth it, because when they stop and start to sing, the everyday recedes, their skill with harmonies, with musical dynamics takes hold of their audiences, delights them, sometimes challenges them (they have an impressive repertoire in a range of languages) but always leaves them wanting more. Audience members always tell me how pleased they are that the choir took the time to visit in their neck of the woods, that they haven’t been forgotten, that they enjoyed hearing favourites but also new pieces, that they appreciate the thought that has gone into creating unusual experiences an they value the opportunity to hear such superior concerts. 

 

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In 2011 the choir initiated a concert series known as Daugavas BALSIS and this year the final concerts in this series will form a part of the choir’s 30th anniversary season. Daugavas BALSIS aimed to traverse the entire Daugava basin in Latvia on rafts, barges or other water transport vehicles over a number of years, performing free concerts in nearby churches, cultural centres, schools and outdoorvenues. To date the choir has performed 49 such concerts on both banks of the river Daugava. As part of Daugavas BALSIS, it will be possible to again hear the choir this year, from August 24 to 27, at one of 14 performances in the concluding stage of this series, which will take place at sites from Ogre to Rīga.

This year’s series will commence with a performance at the Ogre Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church can be found not far from the river Ogre, where the 2016 concert series concluded with a performance on the floating stage. Thursday's second concert will take place on the legendary St. Meinhard’s Island in Ikskile (if the water levels are too high, the concert will take place in the newly opened Ozolins Square). Later, audience members are invited to arrive by boat from both banks of the Daugava for the distinctive concert entitled Life Songs to be held on Death Island (Nāves Sala) There’ll be an opportunity for a limited number of people to be provided with transport to the concert from the Recreation Centre Ķīķerīši.

On Friday August 25 the first concert of the day will be at the Lower Lake in Daugmale (Lejas ezers Daugmale). This experimental concert will only run for 15 minutes. The choir will envelope the lake while the conductor will be on a temporary jetty in the lake. Later on, both banks of the Daugava will be connected through perfomances entitiled Summoning Through Song (Sasaukšanās), where the Daugmale folk ensemble will join the choir on the left bank at Daugmale Castle mound and the choir Lōja will be on the right bank in Salaspils at the memorial for the Livonian Leader Ako.

The morning of August 26 will begin at 11.00am with the concert, Rise up Higher, in an unusual setting for choir concerts, at the Riga Radio and Television Tower on Zaķusala. In the evening, at the former outdoor stage of Arcadia Park (Arkādijas Parks), songs from Song Celebration concerts will again be heard after a long break in such performances. One of the choirs' favourite Daugava BALSIS series traditions, is the late evening concert, which loosens the boundary between the choir and its listeners. The concert Evening at Smiļģis, in the garden of the Eduards Smiļģis Theatre Museum will be in this vein.

Sunday morning, August 27, will begin at the National Library of Latvia and will continue with a concert at The Small Guild Hall (RKTMC Mazā Ģilde), which is the home of the choir BALSIS. In order to achieve fully the goal of the seven-year concert series, just as the Daugava flows further into international waters, so too will the choir head into international waters, by boarding Tallink's Isabelle. It will head to neighbouring Sweden where in Stockholm BALSIS will combine with the Stockholm Latvian Choir to perform at the prestigious Eric Ericsonhallen Concert Hall (ericericsonhallen.se). This will be the second performance by the choir in this setting. The Swedish public has been acquainted with the Youth Choir BALSIS since 2012 through its successful participation in festivals in Lund and Örebro. The choir has also delighted audiences through its solo concerts in Västerås and Älmhult.

In 2018, Latvia will be celebrating its centenary and central to the celebrations will be the XXVI Song and XVI Dance Celebrations (which have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List). The Song and Dance Celebrations are expected to involve 40,000 participants, culminating in a three hour long concert at the well-known outdoor stage in Mežaparks, which is expected to involve 15,000 singers.

On August 28, BALSIS will present a two-part choir concert which will provide a musical insight into the classical Song Celebration repertoire, along with the quintessence of sacred and secular music by contemporary Latvian composers. The program will include the works of: Pēteris Vasks, Valts Pūce, Emīls Dārziņš, Juris Vaivods, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Rihards Dubra, Raimonds Pauls, Pēteris Plakidis and others. Listeners will also get a chance to take part in a singalong.

The concluding concert of the concert series Daugava BALSIS will take place on Tallink's ship, this time the Romance, on August 29.

As usual, each concert has a specially selected, unique program. Concerts in Latvia are free of charge thanks to the backing of counties, churches and supporters!

Daugavas BALSIS can be heard at:

Thursday, August 24

12.00 noon Ogre Ev. Lutheran Church

5.00pm St. Meinhard island (Svētā Meinarda salā) Ikšķile (Ozolins Square if water levels are high)

8.00pm LIFE SONGS, Death Island (Nāves sala)

Friday, August 25

3.00pm LOWER LAKE (LEJAS EZERA) BALSIS Daugmale (15 min only, 56°47'03.5"N 24°26'36.6"E)

7.00pm SUMMONING THROUGH SONG Nr. 1 with the Daugmale folk ensemble at Daugmale Castle mound

8.00pm SUMMONING THROUGH SONG Nr. 2 with Salaspils Choir Lōja atthe Ako Memorial in Salaspils

Saturday, August 26

11.00am RISE UP HIGHER, Latvian Radio and Television Tower, Zakusala

6.00pm CELEBRATE! Arcadia Park (Arkādijas Parka) outdoor venue

9.00pm EVENING AT SMIĻĢIS in the garden of the Eduard Smiļģis Teātra Museum

Sunday, August 27

11.00am NATIONAL LIBRARY of LATVIA

2.00pm BALSIS at the Small Guild Hall (Mazāja ģilde)

8.00pm Tallink ferry Isabelle

Monday, August 28

7.00pm LATVIAN BALSIS, Stokholm, Eric Ericsonhallen

Tuesday, August 29

8.00pm Tallink ferry Romantika

See you by the Daugava, or further afield, in August!

For further information contact:

Ints Teterovskis

Artistic Director

Youth Choir BALSIS

tel. +371 29414158

Many composers have provided melodies to accompany the poetry of Alexander Caks. One of the most productive ones is Arturs Maskats. In the 1980s Maskats, on piano, accompanied the legendary Latvian actor, Ivars Kalnins performing solo songs. Over time many of these songs were reworked into choral pieces. Rīga (composed in 1982) has featured in many Song Celebration performances.
From 2006 to 2010, along with Ints Teterovskis, BALSIS was led by Valdis Tomsons, the current artistic director of Juventus, the choir of the University of Latvia, as well as the current conductor of the nation's academic choir, Latvia. During the BALSIS 2009 season, Valdis Tomsons and the choir staged an ambitious programme of Arturs Maskats' music performing over 10 concerts. These culminated in an evening concert on May 12, at the Gallery Centre on Audeju Street.
In this clip you can hear the Youth Choir BALSIS along with previous choristers from the choir performing as visasBALSIS. Arturs Maskats accompanies the choir on the piano with Valdis Tomsons conducting. It was recorded at the BALSIS anniversay concert SVETKI! In the Lielais Dzintars concert hall in Liepaja. Choristers from BALSIS can be seen in the clip along with drawings by Anta Priedite and Aigars Ozolins.
On July 5, the clip VINDO was uploaded for your enjoyment, it being the first of Youth Choir BALSIS 11 new videoclips. The next videoclip to premiere will appear on jauns.lv next Wednesday, July 26.

 

 

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