RIG - The XXVII Nationwide Latvian Song and XVII Dance Festival, which will start at the end of this week, will have 40,560 participants, according to information from the Latvian National Culture Centre (LNKC).
Thus, this number of be just slightly lower than in 2018, when the Song and Dance Festival was dedicated to Latvia's centenary with almost 43,300 participants. In 2013, the number of participants for the first time was over 40,000.
For the second festival in a row, the Dance Festival will have the highest number of participants. This year, 16,879 dancers from 695 groups will take part in the festival. This is less than the Centenary Festival, when 18,150 dancers from 739 dance groups participated, but more than in other Dance Festivals.
The number of participants in the Song Festival Choir will be the third largest since Latvia's independence - 15,870. The record was set in 1990, during the first Song Festival after the restoration of Latvia's independence when the choir had more than 20,000 singers. In 2018, around 16,500 singers took part in the Song Festival.
This year, however, the number of choirs taking part in the Song Festival has increased. In 2018, there were 429 choirs, and this year there will be 454 choirs.
This year, 2,097 brass band musicians from 66 orchestras and 5,714 participants from 580 kokle ensembles, vocal ensembles, folk music ensembles, amateur theatres and other amateur arts groups will also take part in the Festival.
Diaspora groups will be particularly well represented at the 2023 Festival - 2,587 participants from 88 groups compared to 84 diaspora groups with 2,411 participants in 2018.
"This was a huge surprise for us," said Maruta Alpa, Latvian stage dance expert at the LNKC, speaking about the number of participants in this festival, despite the Covid-19 restrictions in previous years, which had a significant impact on the rehearsal and concert opportunities for amateur dance groups.
Also the Song Festival's chief conductor Kaspars Adamsons also said that during the pandemic there were concerns about the continuation of choirs and whether the number of participants would decrease.
"Now we see that new choirs have been formed. Maybe some choirs have not survived the pandemic, but the number is certainly not in the dozens. As far as the number of participants is concerned, it is probably a good coincidence of the pandemic moving away and the approach of the Song Festival, which has always attracted additional participants in almost all choirs. For example, I cannot remember any other year when there was a choir in Riga with 100 members," said the conductor.