The "Staro" choir in Strasbourg unites singers from Germany, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland and is looking forward to participating in the Song Festival in Latvia, reported LTV's Ilze Nagla on June 27.
Folk costumes and flower crowns, which are a common thing in Latvia, stand out against the background of people dressed in sober suits at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
Velga, a chorister from Germany, admits that it is not easy to get these magnificent crowns while living abroad. "Yesterday I went to pick flowers for the wreath, and my husband and I went together. He is a Swiss citizen, and he told me: 'I will go 100 meters further on when you break those oak branches, I am embarassed that you break branches and pick flowers along ditch banks!"
This diaspora choir prepares for the song festival in a different rhythm than the choirs in Latvia. Rehearsals take place here once a month, with singers arriving from all over Germany, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland, while conductor Lāsma Pommere comes from Latvia every month.
"Sometimes we rehearse for two days, because we really try to make the most of the time she has with us," says Anete, a singer residing in France.
"Those songs are the ones that touch the soul. And living away from Latvia, we actually feel it even more," emphasizes Lāsma, singer of the family choir "Staro" from France.
Anete adds that, in her opinion, "The Song Festival is such a wonderful example to show Latvian culture to our non-Latvian family members as well. My husband is always excited about how organized we are, how we prepare. Also when we participated in the song festival in Esslingen, he couldn't believe it – he had never seen so many people singing together."
Patrick Lannin, a singer of the "Staro" choir based in Luxembourg, says: "It feels like you are singing with everyone else, as if you were one part of one big organism, part of one big family. Although I'm not Latvian – I'm from England – but I learned to speak and sing in Latvian."