Organizer Dace Bluķe told Latvian Radio (LR) program Klasika that several years ago the summer season for local cultural events was hardly as rich and varied as it is today. But four years ago the idea for a chamber music festival around which to center other cultural activities finally got off the ground with the launch of the first ‘Via Baltica’.
In the years since, the festival has outgrown its original host city and expanded deeper into Latvia’s western Kurzeme province, to its central town of Kuldīga.
This year’s festival program promises a broad and diverse array of events. It gathers more than 20 outstanding musicians’ groups to perform concerts as well as hold workshops for the children’s audience on Saturday. Liepāja will host four of the events between now and August 30, while Kuldīga will stage three of them on August 23.
Thursday evening’s opening performance will feature baroque period works written in the historical territories of modern-day Latvia performed by the Collegium Musicum Riga ensemble.
On Wednesday August 20 the trio of women calling themselves ART-i-SHOCK will perform an intriguing program on cello, piano and various non-traditional percussion instruments, including some common household items.
Festival-goers can attend “Flight of the Black Stork” on August 23 at the Kuldīga Cultural Center, which will feature mezzosoprano Ieva Parša, ethnographic Latvian folk music maestro Valdis Muktupāvels and the Riga Saxophone Quartet. This concert will portray the international environmental research and documentary film project “Black Stork: Flight of Life”, which follows the migratory paths of eight of these magnificent endangered birds from Latvia across central Europe, the Balkans, the Near East and finally, their winter homes in East Africa. This concert is free-admission.
Also that day in Kuldīga, the vocal group Putni will sing at a free concert titled “Impressions”, featuring Baltic and Nordic choral works, including two world premieres and several pieces written especially for the group.
Finally, on August 30 the ‘Via Baltica’ chamber music festival will close with a free concert titled “Night of the Ancient Fire”, which will be held on the Liepāja beach by the monument to fishermen and maritimers lost at sea. The program features Latvian and Scandinavian folk music arranged by Gunārs Rozenbergs into works that seem to create a hybrid of big-band and chamber-music styles as performed by the Mirage Octet.
More information about the program is available here.