This year we’re celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the poet Vizma Belševica!

In the concert we will hear the youth choir BALSIS perform a cycle of choral pieces ABOUT FLOWERS composed by Andris Sējans with words sourced from the poetry of Vizma Belševica.

The online concert on December 11, 2021 at 20.00 can be listened to at www.balsis.lv and on the choir's Facebook account.

The cycle includes 7 choral pieces, which use themes from the world of flowers to address relationships, heightened emotions and the issues of our time. The illustrative music of the composer Andris Sejans shares power with the verses without doubt recognising Belševica's irony and sharpness, but at the same time also sharing love, longing and the precise feel of the moment.

BALSIS youth choir is always looking for opportunities to introduce unusual concert venues to Riga. This time, the Āgenskalns market has been chosen as the venue for the recording of the concert, giving online viewers a chance to take a look at the pavilion, which will open in March 2022

The choir BALSIS, conductors Ints Teterovskis and Laura Elizabete Godiņa, as well as Dita Lūriņa, a National Theatre actress, who will narrate Vizmas Belševica’s verse, will be taking part in the concert Being.Existance. The composer, Andris Sējāns, will also take part.

The composer, Andris Sējāns, states: “I wanted to write songs on the topic of women, men, women and men. I read the poems by the poet, in which these theme are, of course, very popular, and somehow my attention was caught by those poems where the themes were addressed, "through the imagery of flowers". Then I just had to make a choice. To me, Vizma’s verses seem musical, they sound well when read, are emotionally fulfilling and clear - what more could a maker of music want? ”

Dita Lūriņa, actress, says: “The peoples’ conscience, unbreakable, strong, and principled. There is no compromise for Vizma – this has been clear to me since my school days! The concert and the encounter with Vizma’s poetry at this time led me to see how fragile she was, how broken, how gentle, how vibrant, how sad, how quiet, how unbearable much more ...

Dana Biteniece, the director of the concert, also a first soprano in BALSIS tells us: "Not only the newly created choral music, the unusual venue of the concert, the environment rich in reflections, but also Belševica’s timeless poetry, will allow the audience to look at the choices made during their life and the consequences, to think about whether everything is not really based on emotions!"

The performance has been crafted by: Dita Lūriņa (voice); musicians - Mārcis Lipskis, Edvards Muzikants; Elīss Balceris, scenography; Uģis Bērziņš, lighting; Ivars Vācers, video; sound - Rihards Gulbis; director - Dana Biteniece; conductors - Ints Teterovskis, Laura Elizabete Godiņa; and, the Youth Choir BALSIS.

The concert is supported by the State Cultural Capital Foundation and the Ministry of Culture. Thanks also to Āgenskalns Market and the Small Guild.

For the best audio quality headphones or a good sound system is highly recommended. The 360 degree camera will allow to view the whole stage, zoom in on various details and walk through the whole Āgenskalns Market pavilion creating a unique musical and visual experience for every listener.

This year we will still have our Youth Choir Balsis Christmas concert, but instead of it being possible to hear it three times, as usual, this year it is up to you, choose the play button as many times as you want to!

Obviously it won’t be the usual two part programme that Balsis usually performs in the Anglican Church in Rīga, but you will still be able to hear the essence of this programme.  It is the 24th Christmas concert programme that the artistic director, Ints Teterovskis, has conducted. For his relatively new assistant conductor, Laura Elizabete Godiņa, it is her first Christmas concert with Balsis. Laura and the choristers have designed  a programme  which has a somewhat Scandinavian flavor, with the envisaged programme containing songs from the Baltics and Scandinavia. The choir has prepared several Estonian and Norwegian songs but a cycle of  Reinis Sējāns songs  was also intended. This year’s current “essence “ programme won’t allow for that, but hopefully it will be performed live in its entirety in the future. As well, Balsis along the New York Latvian Choir have recorded it and the new album will soon be accessible worldwide. You can also listen to it on Spotify.

Currently, you are about to enjoy an excerpt of the planned Christmas programme. This consists of three songs, from the heart and, importantly continuing a tradition, from the Anglican Church in Rīga. The choristers start with a Swedish song, which is then followed by a Norwegian folksong. Naturally Silent Night, Holy Night is part of the concert, this time as arranged by Uģis Prauliņš. But wait! That’s not all! There is another tradition that we continue with this concert. The Christian Heinrich Rinck and Johans Vilhelms Hejs song “Every year the Christ child comes again…”is traditionally performed at the Balsis Christmas concert – not just by the choir but with the audience singing along. So please join us! Merry Christmas!

There was an air of anticipation as the audience gathered to celebrate the launch of events that would lead to the 58th Festival on Sunday February 2, 2020. Wandering through the foyer and cafē,  amongst Latvian  attendees there were excited discussions about the previous visit by BALSIS. Other concert goers were new to performances by BALSIS and had very different backgrounds: Asian, European and English.

The concert started at the back of the hall with the young choristers clear and precise voices being raised in prayer (Ābele, Lūgšana). The meditative feeling continued with works by Dubra (Exaudi nos) and Garūta’s The Lord’s Prayer. Itself part of a much larger cantata, which played with planned repetition, chordal sounds and relied on the beauty of the human voice to breathe life into the music.

Then the concert moved to another level with Pūce’s Seasons (Gadalaiki) with pieces reflecting the moods and tones of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The choristers deep understanding of what they were singing impressed, as did the harmonious weaving together of the many different voices.

Venta, a part of the River Cycle by Latvia’s foremost popular music composer, Raimonds Pauls, with haunting words by Inese Zandere centred the audience’s attention, with its ability to influence directly the emotions of the listener. The choir reinforced this with its solid performance of an emotionally charged song.

The first section of the concert concluded with the works of well-known Latvian composer, Imants Kalniņš: a prayer and a promise. Again emotionally charged and importantly the choirs performance encouraged listeners to find their own meaning, rather than one prescribed one.

In the second half the choir was joined, partially, the the Sydney Latvian Mixed Choir. The gave a foretaste of not only the music that will be heard at the 58th Festival, but also  of the potential power of the the main choral performance of the Festival – the combined choirs concert. The two choirs worked to-gether to produce at times a forceful sound and at other times playful.  As all the songs were either part of earlier Song Celebrations or Latvian Arts Festivals in Australia, the audience readily related to them and would have happily listened to many more. The selection was just enough to wet the audience’s appetite for the Festival’s choral concerts.

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