Three for the Weekend: A musical trio

Stuck for something to do in Latvia this weekend? Maybe we can help with these three musical suggestions.

Folk traditions in Jaunpiebalga

For many years, Latvia styled itself "The land that sings" and not without reason. The country's collection of folk song is vast and remarkably well preserved thanks to the remarkable efforts of folklorists such as Krisjanis Barons.

Even more amazingly, Latvians know the words to an incredible number of these songs and can actually sing them - as you will discover if you visit the gathering of Latvian folk singers happening August 5-7 in Jaunpiebalga, right in the center of the country.

Far from being the preserve of foldy-roldy-do (though there may be a little tra-la-la) Latvia's ancient folk traditions are alive and well at this event, which you might imagine as a cross between a masterclass, a druidical gathering of poets and storytellers and a good old-fashioned sing-song.

Natural rhythms in Ligatne

You might think of the Laba Daba (Good Nature) festival as a sort of slightly more laid back, slightly more grown up follow-up to the massive Positivus festival that happened a few weeks ago.

Located near Ligatne, just an hour's drive north-east from Riga, Laba Daba's bill this year features a genuinely eclectic mix ( we know they all say that, but in this case it is true) of music with a strong World Music flavor but jazz and even metal alongside.

Top acts include Germany's Die Krupps, Denmark's Lust For Youth, Latvian troubadour Haralds Simanis and Russian musical journalism legend Artemy Troitsky spinning some tunes at the DJ turntables.

But the acts we want to see most are called "I am a really shy person".and "Used furniture from Holland."

Genius of Gershwin in Cesis

George Gershwin's opera, Porgy and Bess, has not been staged in Latvia since 1973. That omission is due to be set right in fantastic fashion in coming days with several performances of this masterpiece of the operatic canon.

In keeping with Gershwin's stipulation, the four lead roles will all be taken by black singers, namely: Jermaine Smith, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch and Rodney Clarke, while Andris Poga of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra will take the baton.

The first performance will be late-night one in the atmospheric surroundings of Cesis castle park, with the production subsequently moving on for performances in Liepaja on August 11 to 

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