Song festival toys with major changes

  • 2013-10-31
  • From wire reports, RIGA

The National Song and Dance Festival in Latvia could become an annual event, or the festival should take as long as one month, according to some of the proposals made at a conference on the next Song and Dance Festival that will be held in 2018, when Latvia will mark its 100th anniversary, reports LETA.

Ugis Brikmanis, the director of the previous Song and Dance Festival, said that the festival should become an annual event leading up to the anniversary festival in 2018. Brikmanis believes this will help select the best songs and performances to be included in the Song and Dance Festival's repertoire.

Brikmanis also believes that the Children’s Song and Dance Festival should not be held separately from the adult Song and Dance Festival.

Other participants in the discussion opposed Brikmanis. The festival’s chief conductor Martins Klisans said he doubted if the traditions of the festival should be changed, and whether it would even be possible. “There are multiple opportunities for festival performers to rehearse and practice on a daily basis,” said the conductor.

Likewise, Latvian National Center for Culture head and candidate for culture minister, Dace Melbarde emphasized the importance of the preparations for the festival, which takes place every five years, and said she opposed making the festival an annual event. Various smaller-scale events may be organized in between festivals, she added.

Other ideas were also voiced at the conference. Gints Cepelnieks, chief conductor at the previous festival, said that the festival should continue for an entire month, with festival concerts taking place on weekends. This would also mean less stress for festival participants and enable them to enjoy the festival as much as the audiences.

Several participants in the conference said that a balance should be found between popular songs and new songs performed at the festival, and that the festival’s gala procession should take place at the beginning of the festival.

Melbarde said that all these ideas would be evaluated by the Song Festival Council. “It is important to strike a balance between a high-quality cultural product and an event for the nation,” said Melbarde, saying that she had received complaints about festival participants being overworked, which contradicted the very idea of the festival.

She also said festival participants should take a more active part in the organization of the 2018 festival.