Culture Ministry rewards leading arts figures

In a ceremony at the Latvian Academy of Culture's theater house Zirgu Pasts on the evening of December 4, the Culture Ministry's annual Excellence Awards in Culture were presented to design studio H2E, stage director Alvis Hermanis, and violinist Gidon Kremer with his chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica

According to Lita Kokale, head of the Culture Ministry's Public Relations Department, H2E was honored for its achievements in Latvia and beyond. The design studio has carried out a number of acclaimed projects at Rainis and Aspazija House in Riga, Rainis Museum, Latvian War Museum, Riga Motor Museum, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia and others. The studio has won several prestigious Latvian and international awards.

The award to Hermanis was presented for his staging of various operas at the leading European opera houses during the last two seasons: Madama Butterfly at La Scala, Die Liebe der Danae at the Salzburg Festival, Richard Wagner's Parsifal at the Vienna State Opera, Hector Berlioz's La damnation de Faust at the Opera Bastille, Giacomo Puccini's Tosca at the Berlin State Opera, Giuesppe Verdi's Il trovatore at the Salzburg Festival, Leos Janacek's Jenufa at La Monnaie, and others.

In turn, Kremer, one of the world's most outstanding violinists, was honored for the cooperation projects involving the Baltic countries' musicians. Kremer has recorded more than 120 albums, many of which have received various awards, including Grammy, Echo Klassik and Praemium Imperiale awards.

Kremerata Baltica was founded in 1997, it has performed in over fifty countries in Asia, Australia, North America, South America and Europe. 2017 is a special year to Kremer and Kremerata Baltica - it marks Kremer's 70th birthday and the 20th anniversary of Kremerata Baltica. This year, Kremerata Baltica will perform more than forty concerts - in the Baltic countries, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands, China, Japan, and South Korea.

The national Excellence Award in Culture was first introduced in 2014 and has since been presented to a number of popular Latvian artists and cultural institutions. The aim of award is to recognize the international success of Latvian artists and agents of culture, thus thanking them for their significant contribution to the promotion of cultural values of Latvia and for bringing the prestige of Latvian culture to the world.

Each winner gets a very handy 7,000 euros in addition to a trophy.

In her speech at the event, Culture Minister Dace Melbarde - who founded the awards in 2014 - alluded to the fact that the awards tend to go to people already at the top of their chosen fields rather than encouraging up-and-coming talents.

"The recipients of the Cultural Excellence Award are stars of our cultural environment, who have already experienced their "major successes in the wider world. But here, at home, in Latvia, in a family atmosphere, we want to embrace them again, rejoice and be proud of their success together. And we truly have to be proud of, and every year a new constellation of the Excellence Award is coming to fruition," said Melbarde.

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