Contemporary music festival ARENA is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and offers its visitors an exquisite and colourfully festive programme with world class musical celebrities participating in it!
Opening the festival’s 15th season on Tuesday, November 8, at 19:00 in the Great Guild in Riga the visitors will hear one of the leading contemporary music ensembles in the Northern countries – BIT 20 (Norway), conductor Christian Karlsen (Sweden). Together with the special guest, legend of contemporary music, French trombone player Vinko Globokar, who will play and conduct his own piece, whereas BIT 20 will perform a programme called KALEIDOSCOPE IN RIGA, in which we will hear pieces by Latvian composers Santa Bušs, Gundega Šmite and Andris Dzenītis.
On Wednesday, November 9, at 18:30, in Reformation Church in Riga in a concert IN LOVE WITH LIBERTY you will see performing Polish – German descendant British artist, pianist and poet Heloïse Ph. Palmer. The programme was inspired by the Latvian monument of Liberty and in this multi-media, multi-sensitive and provocative solo performance one will hear also new pieces by Latvian composers Santa Ratniece and Maija Einfelde.
On the same night at 20:00 also in the Reformation Church visitors will have the chance to hear the delightful Belgian chamber music ensemble Musiques Nouvelles in a concert CORDES INTIMES. It will be a subtle and intimate conversation performed by a string quartet, which you will hear performing pieces by Belgian composer Jean-Paul Dessy, Russian descendant Belgian composer Victor Kissine and the acclaimed Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks.
On Thursday, November 10, at 19:00, in Kalnciema Kvartāls in Riga, and on Saturday, November 12, at 17:00 in Hotel Promenade, Hicks Hall in Liepaja we will hear performing one of the greatest, highly acclaimed Portuguese instrumental ensembles – Lisbon Guitar Quartet. In the concert we will hear pieces from their musical album PRIMA LUCE written by 21st century Portuguese composers, including some of the musicians in the quartet.
A special event within the festival is children’s opera KIRANA which will take place on November 12, at 17:00, in the Latvian Youth Theatre. The Maltese composer’s Ruben Zahra play is based on Myths of Creation from different cultures as well as four basic elements of the world – water, air, earth and fire. Children aged 10-15 from all over Latvia will participate in workshops to master the opera performance as well as create their own musical instruments, learn to play them, and acquire unique experience working with the composer of the opera, professional musicians, and a choreographer on a modern stage set. KIRANA, the opera has been recognised as one of the most innovative musical projects in Europe in 2014 and is currently in demand for educational programmes in many European concert halls and opera houses.
The festival will conclude on Saturday, November 12 at 20:00 in the nightclub Nemiers (Unrest) with an untraditional event CLUB NIGHT – a musical cocktail mixed of short concerts of live academic music, and dance music based on classical music and played by club DJs. On the world’s musical arena such performances are seen on a regular basis, therefore the festival ARENA as a promoter of contemporary music beyond the walls of concert halls on its anniversary year wants to introduce this format also to Latvian audiences.
See you at the ARENA!
This year’s program of the festival ARENA will include three unique projects of contemporary academic music. They must be marked among others especially because of their surprising music, content and stage design. And they are – the electroacoustic chamber opera MARIENGLASS, the project of the Latvian Radio Choir CANTO 33 and the world premiere of the musical performance NO SAY NO WAY by the French composer François Sarhan.
The chamber opera of the Swiss composer Beat Gysin MARIENGLASS, created as an adaption of the Franz Kafka’s novel “The Castle”, will be also a special performance. You will experience transformed stage and public spaces, unusual relationships between the artists and the public and a performing way of the composition, which brings together live and electronic music simultaneously. Three performances of this chamber opera will take place on 16 and 17 October in Riga Reformed Church.
Latvian Radio Choir, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, in collaboration with the colorful Swiss composer Helena Winkelman has prepared for the audience of this festival the project CANTO 33. This is a 60 minutes long performance, which creation was inspired by the texts of the immortal “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. The world first performance of this composition will take place on 24 October in Erfurt Cathedral in Germany. In Riga it will be heard on 30 October in St. Peter’s Church.
The French composer François Sarhan will contribute to this year’s festival program with the world premiere of his musical performance NO SAY NO WAY, which will take place on 1 November in the Culture Space “3 māsas”. The partaking artists of this event are the extraordinary percussionist Jennifer Torrence (USA/Norway) and the composer himself, who is also the stage designer of the performance. No classical percussion will be used on the stage, only the body percussion and household objects.
Along with the above mentioned performances the festival offers also two concerts of classical contemporary music given by two outstanding performers. The ensemble MISE-EN (USA) is one of the most remarkable performers of contemporary music in New York today. The newest compositions of American composers performed by the MISE-EN ensemble will be heard on 29 October in Riga Latvian Society House in the concert AMERICAN TV COMERCIALS. Rzewski and Young American Composers. EL CIMARRON DUO (Austria/Italy) is an ensemble of the guitar and percussion artists. On 20 October in the Gallery of the Artists’ Union of Latvia they will perform three new compositions by Oskars Herliņš, Gerhard Stäbler and Agustín Castilla-Ávila in the program COUNTERPOINT. UTOPIAN DIALOGUES.
The well-known and recognized Latvian composer and ethnomusicologist Valdis Muktupāvles (Latvian folk music instrument kokle, voice) in collaboration with the Swiss artist and composer Helena Winkelman (violin, voice) invites to the improvisation concerts of folklore and contemporary music FROM THE ALPS TO THE GAIZIŅŠ. In these concerts, which will take place from 27 until 31 October, we will enjoy the conversation of the Latvian and Swiss traditional and contemporary music.
A special event is also the reading of the most known Turkish singer Mustafa Dogan Dikmen ROOTS IN THE FUTURE about the meeting point of the Middle East and Western European music. On 5 November in Riga Latvian Society House he will perform together with the unique and world-recognized intercultural music ensemble SARBAND.
Tickets to the concerts can be purchased in the booking-office Biļešu paradīze www.bilesuparadize.lv.
ZAUBER- UND BANNSPRUCHE AUS ALTER ZEIT / SPELLS AND CHARMS FROM ANCIENT TIMES (2013) is created by composer Helena Winkelman (Switzerland) and conductor Antra Drege (Latvia), based on ancient Latvian and Swiss texts. Thirteen new pieces are performed in combination with traditional instrumental Swiss folk dances and Latvian a cappella folk songs. Listen to the excerpts (20 min.) from concert in Alpentöne festival (Altdorf, Switzerland) here and to the final piece “Du lustige Filifausel" (2 min.) here.
CLAYBIRD'S LULLABY (2014) is composed by Latvian composer Santa Ratniece, who has written this work especially for clay birds (ocarinas), made by children in Ziemeli orphanage in Riga under the guidance of swedish artist Knutte Wester who has initiated this project. The clay birds in this piece portray the lives of nine children and is accompanied by eight voices and cello. Listen to the piece here.
CANTICUM CANTICORUM (2014) is a project, inspired by texts of “Song of Songs” and realized with the participation of Latvian Radio Choir (conductor Kaspars Putniņš), ensemble SARBAND (leader Vladimir Ivanoff) and six composers that represent the northern Europe and the Middle East: Lasse Thoresen (Norway), Toivo Tulev (Estonia), Mārtiņš Viļums and Santa Ratniece (both Latvia); Bushra El-Turk (Lebanon / UK) and Vladimir Ivanoff (Bulgaria / Germany). Here is a little insight into the making of the project.
Like before, the festival this year will continue to present contemporary music to the audience in concerts, lectures and discussions providing everyone who takes interest in the field with a chance to understand the diversity of means of expression in modern music as well as to talk to composers and performers about their ideas and work.
In 2015 the theme of the festival is UTOPIA which will be impersonated by unusual musical ideas. The audience will enjoy compositions inspired by Utopian texts, imaginary Utopian tasks will be solved transforming and exposing the space, the past and the culture heritage will viewed in the light of future technology; dialogues will be incited among musicians who live apart from each other not only because of different music styles but even different continents.
A notable novelty of the 2015 festival will be its introductory concert WOMEN’S DAY on 8 March with music created only by women composers, which is intended to be kept as a stable tradition also in the future.
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