Latvia weekend events: Culture of the dead

The title doesn't simply reflect the morbid obsessions of the author; it refers to veļu laiks, from September 29 to November 10, when veļi - mostly benign spirits of the dead - supposedly walk the earth in Latvia. It was customary to leave them meals in quiet places and to generally refrain from being loud during this period. Though we don't know whether people really keep quiet during this time anymore, there are plenty of cultural offerings ('meals') for the living and the dead in store for this weekend.

1. Rīga International Film Festival (IFF)

The Rīga IFF is the Latvian movie event of the year. It's held from October 15 to October 25, featuring more than 80 movies shown across movie theaters in Rīga.

You might be interested in the hippest short movie selection of the Short Riga department in the festival - the organizers told LSM that few of the shorts could finally shed light on Latvian and Estonian mentality, which is sure to perplex even the brightest of us. While you're at it, the Nordic Highlights selection might provide you with insight about our northern neighbors as well.

2. Brodsky exhibition at CUB gallery

The CUB gallery on Ausekļa st. 11 has opened an exhibition titled The Abridged Lion, dedicated to Joseph Brodsky. It features a plaster sculpture of the poet with a cat-sized lion, along with letters, drawings by and photos of the legendary Russian poet. Incidentally, the exhibition opened two days before what's surely the most anticipated theater event of the year - Brodsky/Baryshnikov - a play where movement is melded with poetry. 

3. Symphony and harmony

The Latvian National Symphonic Orchestra starts a cycle titled All the Symphonies of Brahms in which all... the symphonies... of Brahms are to be performed, starting at 7 PM on October 16 at the Lielā Ģilde hall. Info & tickets

As the organizers put it, "The first [symphony] will indeed be performed first, and its monumental, long-nurtured elaborate structure is a serious test of both conductor’s and orchestra’s abilities. The classical romantic Brahms is fittingly supplemented by Haydn who in his balanced optimism has put four soloists in front of the orchestra making them intertwine and echo each other, surface and hide quite in the spirit of classicism."

While the coastal town of Liepāja will see a series of three concerts celebrating the opening of a Chamber hall, kicking off with the Liepāja Symphonic Orchestra on October 17 at the "Lielais dzintars" concert hall. It will be continued by alumni of the Emīls Melngailis Liepājas music school on October 18 at 1 PM, while the concert series will be closed on October 18 at 7 PM by the string quintet of the Berlin Philharmonic, featuring a Latvian musician Gunārs Upatnieks as well. 

4. Interview with Mikhail Baryshnikov

Renowned dancer talks with LSM in what is perhaps the longest, but also one of the most valuable interviews on our website. Part history lesson, part memoir, Masha Nasardinova's interview with Mikhail Baryshnikov takes you into the world of dance, drama, poetry, youth, and all things past - recommended reading for an autumn afternoon. 

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