THE 20th INTERNATIONAL SACRED MUSIC FESTIVAL

One of the international most demanded professional choirs – the State Choir Latvija invites to the International Sacred music festival. 2017 is a special year not only for the  State Choir Latvija, which celebrated 75th anniversary, but also for the 20th anniversary of the International Sacred Music Festival. Festival has been both an artstic director Māris Sirmais and festival general manager Māris Ošlejs most creative coorporation fruit.

At the year of its anniversary festival will be musically rich with an artistically diverse program that will take place not only ir Riga from August 18 to September 7. This year as traditions continue the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and Liepāja Symphony Orchestra will participate in festival as well. An unchanching festival tradition is new composition ordering form Latvian composers, the invitation of the world-known composers as a guest of honor and the production of ambitious vocal symphonic performances within the framework of the music festival.

The beginning of the Sacred Music Festival dates back to 1998, when the State Choir Latvija organized the festival for the first time. The aim was to enrich the cultural life in Riga and to restore the spiritual level in the society. The Sacred Music Festival introduced genre diversity in the festival movement in Latvia, focusing on vocal and instrumental performances and a cappella music.

The 20th International Festival of Sacred Music will begin with celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Šiauliai Choir on August 18 at the Riga St. Peter's Churchat at 19:00, playing the music of Johan Sebastien Bach and his contemporaries.

Bach is considered to be one of the most remarkable German composers. He was a man who loved God and music with all his heart, soul and mind: so Bach is described by one of his biographers. Historian Ville Durant, in turn, adds Bach to loyal followers of the Reformation, saying: Bach's work is a reformation that is worn in music.

This year, in Latvia and around the world, it is 500 years since Martins Luther, as the legend says, in 1517 nailed 95 thesis on the door of the Church of Wittenberg. This event is traditionally considered to be the beginning of the Reformation, a major change in the church and society in general, which took over Europe, including the territory of Latvia.

On August 22 in the Old St. Gertrude`s Church at 19:00 there will be the world premiere of new productions of Latvian composers that has become a tradition. The State Choir Latvija together with conductor Māris Sirmais will perform works composed by Juris Ķeniņš, Renate Stivriņa, Edgars Mākens, Irīna Rebhūna and Gabriēls Džeksons which are devoted to the 100th anniversary of Latvia.

On August 24, at the Great Hall of the University of Latvia, Riga at 19.00 State Choir Latvija in co-operation with the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra and the festival's artistic director Maris Sirmais will perform Messiah by Sven David Sandström, which was first performed in 2009. The piece is an age-old link where George Friedrich Handel faces the spirituality of the 21st century and the master of the baroque stylization, Sven David's Sandström, in the Messiah, which is considered one of the most significant solemn sacred compositions of our time. The composer himself called it a photo slideshow, looking back in the past. In the year of Hendel's anniversary, in 2009, a German conductor, Bach music specialist, initiator of countless new productions and founder of the International Bach Academy, Helmut Rillings, ordered Sandström a new opus based on the libretum which was used also by Hendel.

The world-known Scandinavian composer Sven David Sandström is one of the most prominent composers of the XX Century choir music. His complete work catalog includes 300 compositions that not only demonstrate his productivity, but also cover a very diverse spectrum - from grand operas and oratories to intimate cormusic and chamber music works. Sandström creates his own compositions with resilient creativity and diligence. Since 2000 the composer focuses on spiritual music.

Like every year, this festival also has a classic masterpiece. On August 26, within the framework of the festival, the State Choir Latvija together with the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra in Riga St. Peter's Church at 19:00 will perform Johan Sebastian Bachs Chakon and Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No.2 Lobgesang under the conductor Andres Mustonen (Estonia). Lobgesang is one of the most ambitious works of the composer. Selected texts from the Bible in the work lead in the ascending path of the world of worldly sins in light and joy of God. In essence, the Medelson Symphony No.2 Lobgesang is a cantata. As Mendelssohn in his life did not name any of his symphonies with a serial number two (composer wrote four symphonies), publishers named the Lobgesang to Symphony No.2 after the death of the composer.

On August 31 in Riga St. Peter's Church at 19:00 State Choir will collaborate with conductor from the USA, Eugene Rogers, to create an unprecedented afro-american a cappella program. Eugene Rogers is an acknowledged American conductor, educator, lecturer and professor at Michigan Music, Theater and Dance University. He has performed throughout the United States, as well as Canada, China, Singapore, England, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg. Roger participated as a chorus master in Darius Milhaud opera L'Orestie d'Eschyle which was recorded and released in 2014 by NAXOS Records and won the GRAMMY nomination Best Performance of the Opera.

On September 2  the State Choir Latvija will perform a concert of Latvian Sacred Music that will take place at the at Dagda Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church at 18:00.

The closing concert of the festival will be played on September 7 at the Riga Dome Cathedral at 20:00 where the State Choir Latvija in co-operation with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the conductor and festival artistic director Māris Sirmais will perform the oratorio A Child of our Time by Michael Tippett.

Michael Tippett, along with Benjamin Britten, is one of the most prominent English composers of the 20th century. He was very honored also by Britten. Michael Tippett was a pacifist with power-provoking political views, which led him to three months in prison. He experienced a great deal of internal conflict with his homosexuality, began to seriously focus on Jung's psychoanalysis and its dichotomy about the shadow of personality and light, which subsequently appeared in his music as an essential point of reference. Tippett music was closely linked with his age, political events and deep awareness of their tragedy, but as an artist he remained faithful to an optimistic message of humanism.

His tunes have broadly breathable melodic lines and a great ability to handle the rhythm as an original expression. The quintessence of a Tippetts early creativity is reflected in the closing chorus of the oratorio A Child of Our Time: I will recognize my shadow and my light, and then I will finally be able to be one.

A Child of Our Time by Michael Tippett is an oratory with mundane content. The orthography of the oratorio, written at the beginning of the Second World War, unfolds in two cleverly linked levels: one of Tipet's serious and Timothy Elliot poetry-like meditation for the mid-century crisis, and the other - salvation passages from the James Weldon Johnson book of African American spiritual music. Despite the fact that more than 75 years have passed, the oratorio message of the power of evil (in this case, Fascism) and the search for light and the salvation in nowadays sounds like a warning call.

Tickets available on www.bilesuparadize.lv from May 2017.