Latvian New Music Days 2011 celebrates composer Gundaris Pone

  • 2011-03-09
  • By Sam Logger

NEW MUSIC: The musical piece Oktobra Oratorija, by Imants Kalnins (pictured), featured on the opening night of Latvian New Music Days 2011.

RIGA - Music is the soul of a vigorous world which makes all people be more creative. This creativity is not just composing or singing, it is also listening. Latvia invites everybody to look deep into their soul and hear the music speaking, and attend the annual Latvian New Music Days 2011, which will be playing till March 17 at various venues around the country.
The central figure of the festival is serious music, and this year the program, which holds contemporary works of Latvian composers, is produced by Gundega Smite, chairwoman of the Latvian Composers’ Union. Throughout the years the festival has become one of the most exciting musical experiences, performing new understandings on symphonic, electro acoustic and chamber music.

Latvian New Music Days 2011 opened on March 4 with the concert program “Es naku no talas zemes” (I come from a distant land), where three compositions by composers Gundaris Pone, Imants Kalnins and Marina Gribincika were played. The opening night marked the further performances of Latvian high-level composers, such as Maija Einfelde, Anitra Tumsevica, Valdis Muktupavels, Peteris Vasks and many more. The festival also introduces top quality performers: Sonora Vaice, chamber ensemble Sinfonietta Riga, the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra are just some of them. And if that doesn’t convince you about the significance of the festival, it must be said that various concerts will be seen at Spikeri Concert Hall, Riga’s Great Guild, Blackheads’ House, Latvian Society House, Latvian Music Academy and Ventspils’ Concert Hall – all the greatest concert venues in the country.

Last year the festival began a new tradition – next to the innovative musical pieces the well known masters stood out to be presented by contemporary artists. 2011 passes in a sign of the composer Gundaris Pone (1932 – 1994), whose artistic heritage is somehow rarely acknowledged in Latvia. His creative works have gained international recognition, and he was the winner of the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1982. Pone Ensemble for New Music, founded by Gundaris Pone in 1974, is still active and performs contemporary chamber music.

The music of Pone was just as contradictory as his personality. Probably this was due to the composer’s destiny – he emigrated from Latvia soon after WWII and lived in Italy and the U.S., where he absorbed all the musical traditions of the time. Still, being a true representative of the avant-garde, he managed to include national themes in his works. Pone claimed that ‘the composer would be the strongest if he found his roots.’ And this is what portrays Gundaris Pone – the necessity of Latvian identification. This is implemented through the intensity of the beautiful, silent aesthetics and rationality.

Pone’s works will be heard on March 11 in the concert program Pone. Pastkartes. Parmijas (Pone. Postcards. Switches). The closing concert at Riga’s Great Guild on March 17 also features Pone’s music, where his De Mundo Magistri Ioanni invites one into a musical meditation based on the paintings of Janis Anmanis. Pone has turned the silent canvas into sounds, revealing the secret of the Middle Ages in a poetic way. And, of course, the score is performed be the best musicians of Latvia’s serious music environment. Soloist Andra Darzina and oboist Normunds Sne are accompanied by the Sinfonietta Riga State Chamber Ensemble. Clearly, the Sinfonietta Riga ensemble is the strong point of the closing concert. The ensemble, founded in 2006, has become the symbol of quality in serious music. It has won ‘The Great Music Award,’ which honors the best in Latvia’s serious music, in 2007 and 2008.

There is no counterpart for Latvian New Music Days’ festival. The people may like or dislike it, but significantly, it offers new sounds on Latvian serious music and seemingly unites many Latvian contemporary soloists, composers and performers in one festival. This is the place to be if music awakens the creativity in your soul!

Tickets available on, box-offices and concert venues.