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Minutes from Latvia podcast 18: Eugene Birman on music and Russians

The Minutes from Latvia podcast is back in a musical frame of mind as we are joined by acclaimed contemporary composer Eugene Birman

Born in Daugavpils, Latvia's second-largest city, Eugene already has an international reputation and a talent for generating controversy with his thought-provoking compositions, many of them in collaboration with Tallinn-based librettist Scott Diel.

Most famously they collaborated on a 'Twitter opera' based on a confrontation between former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on social media.

On July 18 from 6 p.m. Eugene will be challenging Latvian residents to come to the Kim? contemporary art center to deliver their own, entirely anonymous verdict on Latvia-Russia relations for his latest musical project. It promises to be another piece of controversial creativity.

Minutes from Latvia podcast 18: Eugene Birman on music and RussiansMike Collier/LSM

The project, titled “Russia: Today,” is part of a wider "Trauma & Revival. Cultural relations between Eastern and Western Europe" residency co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union.  

Participants will retain complete anonymity. Their answers, recorded in private chambers where they will be asked to state their hopes and fears, not to mention their true allegiances, will be turned into an ambitious staged work for the virtuoso London-based ensemble EXAUDI, to premiere in 2019.

“Russia: Today” will create a musical narrative for the un-told experiences and uncensored opinions of the project's participants, and in a larger sense, a forum for the cross-generational nightmares and dreams of Latvians on the nation's 100th anniversary," according to publicity material.

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