Culture programs go over big in Brussels and Washington

Take note – story published 9 years and 4 months ago

The culture program of Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU launched over the weekend in Brussels, headquarters of the 28-member bloc of countries, as well as in the capital of the United States to rapt concert-, theatre- and gallery-going audiences.

According to Latvian Radio correspondent Anda Buševica in Brussels, the Belgian capital was buzzing with talk of Latvia’s EU Council Presidency thanks to a host of associated cultural events taking place there this past weekend.

Opening at the Bozar Center for Fine Arts Thursday was the exhibit of unusual-form artworks “Visionary Structures: from (Kārlis) Johansons to (Voldemārs) Johansons,” as well as a mixed-media video installation featuring furniture and fabrics by Oļa Vasiļjeva, both of which had previously been on display at Latvia’s new National Library building but can now be viewed free of charge at the Bozar in Brussels until the end of May. Curator Ieva Astahovska told LR though that gallery-goers in Brussels were first of all interested in what they know – and that would be the name of constructivist artist Gustavs Klucis, whose works seemed to radically span a range of 20th century ideologies in just one lifetime’s work.

Also taking the town by storm was Latvian director Alvis Hermanis with the New Riga Theatre company’s dramatic production of Tatjana Tolstoy’s short story Sonia, about a lonely eccentric lady that reveals the writer’s observations on human nature and society. More than 500 people attended the sold-out shows Thursday and Saturday, including VIPs such as Latvia’s Ambassador to NATO Māris Riekstiņš and Ambassador to Belgium Lelde Līce-Līcīte.

But perhaps the most-awaited event in Latvia’s culture program for Belgium are the concerts by Gidon Kramer scheduled for the end of February.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Washington, DC the Presidency of the Council of the EU launched its cultural program for the United States last week with a specially hosted concert of the works of Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks at the prestigious Phillips Collection Museum’s Leading European Composers series. Flutist Dita Krenbega and the RIX Piano Quartet were chosen by the composer himself to perform his works at the concert, opened by Ambassador to the US Andris Razāns and followed by a public conversation with Vasks afterward, reported national information agency LETA.

The Washington Post’s Charles Downey reviewed the chamber music concert with mostly glowing descriptions of Vasks’ “intensely mystical style”, though chiding the final choral piece transcribed for instruments for being “perhaps too saccharine.”

As reported, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has reserved a €3.6m budget for its cultural and representational purposes during the year of Latvia’s EU Council Presidency.

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