The Inese Galante & Friends SUMMERTIME Festival enriches Latvian cultural life

  • 2016-07-13
  • Michael Mustillo

The lyrical operatic voice of the Latvian soprano Inese Galante has been heard in the opera houses and concert halls of the world, from La Scala in Milan to the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris to London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Since 2004, the petite, energetic Galante has staged the Inese Galante & Friends SUMMERTIME Festival in the Latvian sea resort of Jurmala.

This year’s festival, which takes from Aug. 8 to 14, will include an eclectic mixture of programming, and no matter what one’s musical taste, there will be a musical offering for everyone. From classical music, jazz, Portuguese fado, Brazilian bossa nova and Argentine tango, to a night of guitars, African rhythms, Vivaldi’s  musical expression to seasons with a performance of The Four Seasons by the Moscow Virtuosi, and Gala Galante, the traditional closing concert which ends the culmination of Inese Galante’s musical feast.

“This year’s festival centres around the theme of motion, a journey, going down new roads,” said Galante.
“An artist’s life is that of treading continuously down new paths, whether performing in new concert halls, meeting unforgettable individuals, building new experiences, or being left with overwhelming impressions.”
“This year we stage our 12th festival, and it promises to again be an unforgettable week in August,” said Galante.
The Inese Galante & Friends SUMMERTIME Festival opens on Aug. 8 at the Dzintari Concert Hall in Jurmala with a bel canto extravaganza, where beauty of sound and performance brilliancy will be on display from Galante and the powerhouse of Latvian internationally performing vocal artists that join her.

These include Latvian bass-baritone Egils Silins, whose magnificent, resonant voice concert goers in Latvia have been fortunate to regularly hear, though he maintains a full international performance schedule. Silins regularly appears on stage with Galante, in what can be described as perfect chemistry.

With bases in Germany, Spain, and Latvia, Silins exemplifies this year’s festival theme. He has stated that “in the last 10 years, I’ve never spent more than three weeks at a time in any one place. And I like this life.”
Latvian countertenor Sergejs Jegers, while a student, worked as a music teacher with individuals with learning disabilities, and in an orphanage, and along with the young up and coming Latvian tenor Raimonds Bramanis, the 2015 winner of the best soloist of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet, will appear with Galante and Silins.
The German conductor, Ekhart Wycik, described as one of Europe’s most versatile upcoming conductors, who has earned praise for his stylistic versatility and his technical and communicative skills with orchestras and with opera companies throughout Europe, conducts the Festival Orchestra.

“It’s always a pleasure welcome Maestro back in Jurmala. He has admitted that he has developed a soft spot in his heart for Jurmala, the Dzintari Concert Hall, and the festival,” said Galante.
Wycik’s British opera debut with the Scottish Opera conducting Mozart’s Magic Flute was chosen by the Guardian newspaper as one of the United Kingdom’s Top 10 Best Classical Music in 2012.
The festival’s second concert on Aug. 9 sees what will be a breathtaking, technically flawless jazz duel, between two legendary jazz pianists Daniil Kramer and Valery Grokhovsky, performing works ranging from Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, George Gershwin, to Duke Ellington.

Kramer is regarded as one of Russia’s leading jazz musicians, and his mastery of the piano, and repertoire which covers traditional jazz to avant-garde, has been highly praised.
“He is a unique pianist and composer, and is artistic director of numerous jazz festivals, and organiser of jazz competitions,” said Galante.

Grokhovsky has been described as a consummate musician whose diversity is without peer. As one of the finest classical pianists in the world, Grokhovsky has accomplished what few others would even attempt when he crosses freely from classical into jazz — without an accent!, Christopher Wilkins, conductor of the San Antonio Symphony, has stated of him.
The festival’s Aug. 10 concert sees the rhythms of Portuguese fado, Brazilian bossa nova, and Argentine tango resonate throughout the Dzintari Concert Hall as Portugal’s Antonio Zambujo, whom the prestige Foundation Amalia Rodrigues has called the best modern male fado singer in the world, takes centre stage.
“It will be a concert all about love,” said Galante.

“Portuguese fado, Brazilian bossa nova, and Argentine tango is a pure love in which a spectrum of emotions can be found — falling in love, closeness, passion, flight, possible parting, new meeting, and endless longing.”
“These love stories don’t need to be translated. Everyone who had loved before will understand the emotional language of music and the artist’s emotions.”

“Love doesn’t have geographical borders — and through the festival’s concert All About Love we are inviting the audience to enjoy the warm evenings of Portugal and Argentina, fado and bossa nova rhythms.”
Antonio Zambujo’s popularity in Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking countries on both sides of the ocean, as well as in the US, France, Germany, and Norway is huge, as evidenced by the fact that concert tickets to his shows are sold out until 2017.

The renowned chamber orchestra Moscow Virtuosi are joined by Latvian pianist, Reinis Zarins, a threefold recipient of the prestigious Latvian Great Music Awards for Vivaldi’s violin concerti cycle The Four Seasons on Aug. 11 at the Dzintari Concert Hall.

The Four Seasons undoubtedly ranks as classical music’s most endearing musical composition. It is a work which has inspired numerous composers including Piazzola and Tchaikovsky, whose works also feature on the programme.
With international performances at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and the Lucerne Festival under his belt, Zarins has exhilarated world and local audiences with his complete tonal range and splendid phrasing.

The festival will also feature the concert Night of Guitars with The Rosenberg Trio and Johnny Rosenberg from the Netherlands.  The trio, regarded one of Europe’s leading gypsy swing and jazz guitar ensembles, regularly appears at leading world jazz festivals and has recorded 20 albums — most of them becoming platinum or gold.
“Other highlights include the return to the festival at the request of festival patrons of Grammy award winner, Dobet Gnahore, the charismatic Cote d’Ivoire singer, percussionist and dancer, for an African Rhythms performance on Aug. 13,” said Galante.

“Her concerts are like a surprising, bright, and wild, colourful and exciting journey to the very heart of Africa. It is like coming back to the roots — where life flows in accordance with the rhythms of nature.”
“Furthermore, her performances are also often called hypnotic rituals, in which the listener is the captive of Gnahore’s charming voice and acrobatic body movements,” said Galante.
Gnahore is considered the brightest modern performer of African music, compared to such legends and ambassadors of African music as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.

The festival’s closing concert on Aug. 14 will feature some of this year’s festival-invited artists.
“For the third year an integral part of the festival will be the Inese Galante Talent Competition laureates’ performances. This year young Latvian talents will again have the opportunity of appearing at the festival’s opening concerts and perform together with the world stars appearing at the festival,” said Galante.
Galante is also active in nurturing and supporting young talented Latvian artists, which she achieved through the Inese Galante Foundation, which she established in March 2013.

“We pay close attention to culture and the fact that it should be accessible to every citizen of Latvia, regardless of his social status and place of residence,” said Galante.
“It has been part of our mission to support new Latvian talent, and assist them to develop and grow.”
“I have wanted to give back to Latvia, what once I received: love and knowledge. And the festival has supplemented and enriched Latvian cultural life with personally relevant and high-quality musical events,” she added.

A full festival programme can be found at