Naumanis Award winner Silvija Radzobe discusses Latvians and theater

On January 6 theater critic Silvija Radzobe was awarded the Normunds Naumanis' Annual Art Criticism Award at the “NN Night” awards ceremony, and on January 7 she spoke with Latvian Radio's “Kultūras Rondo” broadcast about the importance of theater in everyday life in Latvia.

The voting panel justified their choice emphasizing that her written reviews are events in themselves. People await her reviews, fight about them, put them down, get excited, but always read them and take them into account. When asked “what is it with Latvians and their theater?”.

“Yes, it's really a relevant question, what is it with Latvians and theater, but they definitely have something with their theater," said Radzobe.

Radzobe: “That it has nation-unifying function, which theater has possessed since creation, is the complete truth. But at the same time there's something more that I've felt in the last years, how people talk about performances, are interested in theater, how they read our book “100 Remarkable Latvian Actors”. In a way people are the same as about famous athletes, about famous actors, that they're proud to share the same spacetime with them. And they somehow feel that those artists, just like athletes, in some way live such a life that's not accessible to them. At the same time they, watching, let's say, performances, belong to it.

I also somehow think so, let's say, theater is also some sort of extension of a human's life, but it extends in such an unconscious way, somewhere at the instinctual level. I think so,” said Radzobe.

The New Critic Promotion Award was won by musicologist and music critic Lauma Malnace for her reviews written for the website. For her music and journalism are almost inseparable.

Malnace: “All the time, in my opinion, I'm maneuvering between both sides, because my daily job is with the state choir “Latvija”, where I sing. At times I like to form ideas and think while performing, then setting it all out on paper is a fascinating process.”

“I couldn't get by with just one of them. I need to both perform music, be in that process, also to think about it and reflect," said Malnace.

Malnace played violin for 14 years, but her high school music teacher already tolder her that she should study musicology.

“I've always liked to be abnormally interested, read, listen more than those who simply play their instrument or sing. It's logical that it moved that way. I guess my greatest impulse was specifically the Latvian Radio 3 "Klasika" competition "Nošu domino", which was for high school music students, which we also won in 2012," said Malnace.

She emphasizes that her goal in writing about music is creating a feeling presence. “Writing is disciplined by terms, that you can't go on at length, but that moment when you have to make yourself start to do it, it's so… It's not like, oh, what an awesome concert and it just comes along on its own,” said the critic.

“Describing music is such an abstract and elusive art that you can't say black or white, it's like rummaging around a dark alley at moments,” said Malnace.

My goal is not to just critique or analyze, but to create that sense of presence that was in that moment at the concert, that happened there. To show it once again, but maybe through words,” said the singer and critic.

As previously reported, the award is named after the famed movie critic and publicist Normunds Naumanis, who passed away in 2014. The voting panel includes a number of leading art experts. The Normunds Naumanis Society organizes the award. The annual award was established to spark critical thinking and improve the quality of art criticism in Latvia.

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