Latvia weekend events: Starlight Express

The weekend is nigh, and while Rīga is lit up during the annual festival of lights, other equally bright cosmic phenomena - like ballet and music stars - will illuminate the country, which recently turned 97, in another weekend for which LSM's Latvian-language culture section has prepared a list of must-sees and must-hears.

1. Ballet stars

The newly-opened Great Amber hall in Liepāja, along with the Cēsis concert hall in the eponymous city will welcome the Ballet Stars Gala concert featuring such renowned stars as Momoko Hirata, Ulvi Azizov, Kristina Pazar and others.

On November 20 at 7 PM (Great Amber) and on November 21 at 7 PM (Cēsis) the audience will see pas de deux from legendary ballets such as Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, Satanella, La Sylphide, Esmeralda and others, performed by luminaries and aficionados of the trade. 

2. Pull up the roots

Lest you get too starry-eyed for the future, the chamber choir Austrums will be performing the spiritual music program of the first-ever Song Festival that took place more than a hundred years ago. The concert will take place at the Rīga Dome on November 22 at 7 PM, tickets will be available before the concert.

"The goal of the concert is to return to a time 142 years ago and, as aptly as possible playing the 1873 program [of the first Song Festival], to feel the suggestive atmosphere that was able to lead us to the energetic "Gaismas Pils" at the Mežaparks open-air stage [..]," said the author of the idea, conductor Ārijs Šķepasts. 

The Rīga Technical University Choir Gaudeamus, the symphonic orchestra of the Rīga 6th Seconday School, along with the mixed choir Saule, the mixed choir of the Latvian Society of Rīga, along with organist Diāna Jaunzeme-Portnaja will be performing songs from the distant past. 

3. Music or Musiqq?

Musiqq, a duo with a good ear for a catchy tune and a penchant for the mock-outrageous shticks of this time and place, seem to have underwent a change in style. The stars, on YouTube at the very least where they have amassed some 23m views, will present their new album acoustic album Silta Sirds (Warm heart) with new and old songs in a hitherto unseen rendition for the band that has mostly focused on synthesized beats and instruments. 

The concert will take place at the Culture Center in Valmiera on November 20 at 7 PM, though the band will later visit Rīga, Rēzekne, Liepāja and Jelgava as well. Some tickets are available still.

4. The citadel of light

The annual light festival Staro Rīga takes place until November 21 with the motto “Light was called… in search of feeling at home in Latvia”.

The central objects of the festival are the Cabinet of Ministers and the Old Church of St. Gertrude, while the Freedom Monument will take the center stage.

The festival features four light installation programmes and a copious number of light objects. Rīga is lit up on the evenings, from 6 PM to 11 PM.

5. Voices that come from Latvia

The vocal band Latvian Voices, that is, voices that come from Latvia, will be performing in the interior of Rīga with the program Pāri robežām (Beyond Borders), featuring original songs with lyrics by Aspazija and Imants Ziedonis.

Foreign visitors will rejoice as they'll be able to tread familiar territory with the band also performing The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever and Alanis Morissette's Thank U along other pop classics. 

On November 21 the band will performing at the DAILE music hall on Krišjāņa Barona st. 31. Info & tickets

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