Latvian song finds new life in Catalonia

One of Latvia's best-loved songs has made an unlikely transition from northern to southern Europe to become one of the anthems of the Catalan independence movement, Latvian Radio reported Tuesday. 

'Saule, Perkons, Daugava' [Sun, Thunder, Daugava River], written by Latvian composer Martins Brauns has been adopted by Catalans seeking independence from Spain ahead of a planned November 9 referendum on the matter.

The move is perhaps not as surprising as it first seems as Catalans have drawn direct inspiration from the Baltic states in the past, modelling their own 'Catalan Way' human chain for independence which took place 11 September 2013 on the Baltic Way human chain of August 23, 1989.

"Essentially they are following the Baltic Way," Brauns told Latvian Radio. "The next step was deciding to sing.Then they asked for my permission to sing the song, and I gave it to them."

"Now is the time to speak," the song begins, using the words of Latvian poet Janis Rainis, translated in the Catalan version by Miquel Marti i Pol.

The song is a favourite at the Latvian Song and Dance Festival which takes place every five years - at which time there are usually at least some calls for its epic chord changes to replace the more conventional 'Dievs Sveti Latviju' [God bless Latvia] as the national anthem.

According to Ruben Martinez, a Catalan who has been living in Riga for more than two years and speaks Latvian, both versions of the song are emotionally charged and support for Catalan independence is growing.

"In recent years, it has grown. I remember when I left Spain five years ago there weren't so many supporters [of independence] but recently things have changed and there are many more," said Martinez

Contrary to some reports, despite its popularity 'Saule, Perkons, Daugava' or its Catalan equivalent 'Ara es l'hora' is not set to become the Catalan national anthem if the November referendum does approve independence. The long-time Catalan anthem is 'Els Segadors', written in 1899 by Emili Guanyavents and Francesc Alio. 

LTV culture news correspondent Toms Treibergs was in Barcelona to witness the mass rally singing the alternative borrowed anthem with the composer himself accompanying the crowd at the piano on Thursday. Here is his report for Panorāma segment (in Latvian):

 

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