ARENA 2020

New music festival ARENA this year will be held from October 24 to November 7.
See you in Riga!
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Although, as usual, the festival possesses the breath and spirit of the world, this year, its main focus falls on concert programmes by outstanding local artists and world premières by several Latvian composers, as well as keyboard instruments in their various manifestations. The scintillation of all the timbral nuances of the black and white keys – from the extraordinary harpsichord to the versatile piano, and from the toy piano to the monumental accordion and the regal organ – is bound to touch the heart of any listener. The diverse repertoire of this year's festival is also marked by a variety of stylistic nuances.

The festival will be opened by a double programme – on Saturday, October 24, the halls of Riga Reformed Church will be brought to life by both the musical performance of accordionists Artūrs NOVIKS and Anta PUĶĪTE, as well as the performance of jazz pianist Edgars CĪRULIS, recently nominated for the Grand Music Award, who will play in a duet with double bassist Jānis RUBIKS, introducing the audience to their latest programme called WEIGHT OF TIME.

On Wednesday, October 28, the adventures of the Italy-based Latvian composer and audio-visual artist Ieva KLINGENBERGA will premiere live on Facebook in the form of the opus HIC ET NUNC, touching upon such topics as the fleeting nature of time, different winds and camouflage, heritage of ancient cultures and timeless values.

On Friday, October 30, two bold guest artists with extremely contrasting concert programmes will perform at the Riga St. Saviour's Church. Mari FUKUMOTO, a Japanese organist living in Germany, is guaranteed to impress with her explosive programme SONUS EX MACHINA for the organ, employing a number of cleverly placed speakers. And the Austrian artist Isabel ETTENAUER will have prepared a playful response to the grand organ with variations on the theme of the toy piano in her programme THE JOY OF TOY – compositions written for this relatively rare instrument, supplementing her performance with vocal and theatrical elements.

On Sunday, November 1, the outstanding harpsichordist Ieva SALIETE will look for counterpoints at the Riga Reformed Church with a fusion of the music of the baroque giant Johann Sebastian Bach and modern compositions: a world première of Gundega Šmite's opus “Aurum”, Linda Leimane’s baroque-inspired composition “Geometric Counterpoint” for harpsichord and electronics, and a new version of the legendary minimalist opus “Electric Counterpoint” by American Steve Reich, originally written for the guitarist Pat Metheny. 

Pianist Reinis ZARIŅŠ tells about his new concert program BRIDGES, which will be performed on Tuesday, November 3 in Ziedonis Hall of the National Library of Latvia: “To take a look at one thing, then at another, and suddenly realise what they have in common, that is my inspiration for “Brides”. The compositions of the programme are well known to me per se, but the novelty and surprise comes from the patterns that suddenly emerge, pairing them up. Whether it's the musical vocabulary, pianistic peculiarities, thematic links or just an inexplicable sense of déjà vu, certain compositions seem to be related despite being set apart by centuries, languages and cultures.” The Latvian grand master of piano will shed a new light on pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Couperin, Ligeti, Glass, Messiaen and other composers in piano music.

Bernard Benoliel, whose music is permeated with respectful and creative references to the opuses of German and French Romanticism, has sought similar bridges in his work. On Thursday, November 5, his life’s work INFINITY – EDGE. TRANSCENDENTAL REQUIEM for all artists whose lives have been ruined by the horrors of war, will see the light of day. The opus will be performed by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Zsolt NAGY, and The State Choir LATVIJA. ATTENTION! THE CONCERT HAS BEEN POSTPONED to 2021!

In the closing part of the New Music Festival ARENA, an exhibition of drawings by composer Andris DZENĪTIS will be displayed in the Exhibition Hall of the National Library of Latvia. Composer Andris Dzenītis, who has enriched the programme of the festival with his compositions in the previous years, as well as entertained the passengers of the “Arena trolleybus”, will exhibit his visual art pieces. The artworks will be exhibited from 3 to 7 November. Andris Dzenītis comments on his relationship with visual art: “Drawing is my method of self-therapy which I’ve always used in moments of great importance to me, both good and bad... I’ve never studied art, no one has ever taught me how to draw, but I've always done it and now people have the chance to take a look at my work.” The opening ceremony of the exhibition will be held on Tuesday, November 3, at 17:30
Festival ARENA is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga City Council Department of Education, Culture and Sports, Austrian Embassy in Latvia, Goethe Institute, National Library of Latvia, Latvian Radio and Whirlpool. 

ARENA 2019

Harpsichord, recorders, electronics, harp, a giant musical dream catcher, a guitar made from skis, sewer pipe trumpets, singing vegetables, spoken word... These original instruments, non-traditional musical ensembles, improvisation, jazz music and many surprises in the world premieres of modern composers' works await in this year's New Music Festival ARENA 2019 which will take place in Riga from 19 October to 2 November.

CONCERT TRIP WITH A TROLLEYBUS will mark the opening of the festival on Saturday, 19 October. With the composer Andris Dzenītis at the wheel, the audience members will travel to see three musical performances.

The first of which will be AIZLIEGTAIS AUGLIS (FORBIDDEN FRUIT) by Elizabete Balčus (flute, vocals, electronics) at 12:30 at “The Mill” club. The artist will unite an ethereal vocal performance with electropop beats and experimental electric dream pop in a free–jazz improvisation, while transforming organic fruits and vegetables into a MIDI synthesiser.

At the same time, (at 12:30) a collective improvisation and meditation event SAPŅU SKAŅU DARBNĪCA (DREAM SOUND WORKSHOP) will take place in Žanis Lipke Memorial, conducted by the composers Jēkabs Nīmanis and Marina Gribinčika, as well as sound architect Maksims Šenteļevs. This creative workshop will take place a second time at 14:30, planned as the second stop for the ARENA trolleybus.

The last stop of the concert trip will be Riga Reformation Church, where the concert AUZIŅŠ, ČUDARS & ARUTYUNYAN. SIRDS KATEDRĀLE (HEART CATHEDRAL) will take place at 17:00. The musical performance will include a new piece by composer Krists Auzenieks (1992) performed by Kārlis Auziņš (saxophone), Matīss Čudars (guitar) and Ivars Arutyunan (drums). The composition consists of four parts, and it draws inspiration from the ideas of major philosophers, including elements of Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, values embraced by the Latvian writers Rainis and Aspazija, the philosophical beliefs of Martha Nussbaum, as well as the feelings and associations of the composer himself.

This year’s ARENA programme includes many other premieres of Latvian composers’ works. Two of them – compositions by Santa Bušs and Oskars Herliņš – will be performed by the Austrian chamber ensemble AIRBORNE EXTENDED on 29 October at 19:00 at the Riga Reformation Church. In addition, the ensemble, which is characterised by a unique arrangement of instruments (harp, harpsichord, ten recorders and four flutes), will perform the works of Italian, Irish, Turkish and Chilean contemporary composers.

On 30 October at 19:00, the piano quartet “Quadra” will perform a new composition by Oskars Herliņš, included in the programme ĶENIŅŠ UN QUADRA, which will feature works by the brilliant composer Tālivaldis Ķeniņš, as well as multiple innovative pieces by Italian, English and American composers.

The Latvian audience will appreciate the electric-acoustic concert IMAGE IN SOUND on 2 October at 17:00 at the Riga Reformation Church, where the Polish ensemble Kwartludium will premiere a new composition by Edgars Rubenis.

The brilliant, highly creative and experimental German band ENSEMBLE MOSAIK will provide the opportunity to listen to the newest contemporary music from Sweden, Iran, Italy, Germany and Estonia on 20 October at 17:00 at the Riga Reformation Church.

Meanwhile, on 23 October at 19:00, lovers of music and poetry are invited to the programme DZEJA UN DŽEZS. KLAUSIES. СЛУШАЙ. LISTEN (POETRY AND JAZZ) that will take place in Kalnciems Square. It is an interdisciplinary project during which the poetry of Aleksandra Line will be accompanied by improvised jazz music performed by internationally acclaimed musicians: Artis Orubs (percussions), Toms Mikāls (keyboard instruments, sound effects) and Dominykas Vyšniauskas (wind instruments, Lithuania). This project is unique due to its impromptu character that ensures that no two performances are alike, so the programme never gets old.

ARENA is a contemporary music festival held in concert halls of Latvia every autumn since 2002 to call together composers, performing artists and audience from many countries of the world. The motto of the festival HEAR THE FUTURE! reflects its main idea and objective – to present the diversity of contemporary music in all its magnificence thus encouraging creation of new music, its performance and recording. No doubt, ARENA is one of the most innovative culture events in Latvia without which regular and logical development of contemporary music culture in Latvia would be unthinkable.

The New Music Festival ARENA is sponsored by: State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga Festival Target Programme and Whirlpool Corporation. 

ARENA 2017

October 14 – 20, 2017, the contemporary music festival ARENA for the 16th time will offer its visitors to experience and listen to rather unusual musical performances. This year the festival will present world premieres of musical pieces created by both Latvian and foreign composers, the visitors will have the chance to meet outstanding Latvian and foreign musicians, as well as go on a one-day concert journey on a special ARENA trolleybus.

The 16th season of the contemporary music festival ARENA will unfold on October 14 in Riga, with a unique project FOUR VENUES. It will present the opportunity during one whole day to see four consecutive concerts in different venues in Riga. To fully experience this musical adventure, going to all the venues with a special ARENA trolleybus, which will not only take the attendants to all separate concert venues, but also allow to participate in a live storytelling about music and life.

The first concert of the project FOUR VENUES – the FOLK MUSIC AFTERNOON will take place in Kalnciema Kvartāls, on the 14th of October at 11:00, 12:30 and 14:00. In the concert you will hear Duo Stanislav Judyn & Asnate Rancāne performing a folk music programme. Uniting their different musical experiences – the improvisations and compositions by Stanislav with Asnate’s knowledge in ethnic music and folklore – they have created an improvisation project, where the original music with lyrics from folk songs is combined with folk melody variations.

Following the first concert the visitors are offered to hear an electroacoustic concert TRAUMTIERE at 13:30, 14:30 and 15:30 in the basement of club ONEONE, 18 Šarlotes street, where the  Vocal group PUTNI will perform two musical pieces, which will also be the world premiere of both of them. One of the pieces is by the Swiss composer Beat Gysin, whose electroacoustic chamber opera Marienglass Latvian audience had the chance to see in ARENA 2015, and this year he returns to the festival with his new musical piece Traumtiere. The other of the premiered pieces is by the young Latvian composer Platons Buravickis, who for the festival has created a musical piece Sprut for eight female voices and octophonic electronics.

The third concert DOGS, WOMEN, GODS and GHOSTS will be performed only once – at 17:00, in the Ģertrūdes Street Theatre. In the concert we will have the opportunity to meet  THE ALPACA ENSEMBLE from Norway and singer Alwynne Pritchard (Norway / UK), who the Latvian auditory got to know in the previous year’s ARENA. They will perform compositions that brightly and originally depict the language of contemporary musical theatre. The concert will also be the world premiere of a musical piece by the British composer Justin Connolly.

Those attendants who wish to participate in all those concerts in “one attempt”, the festival ARENA for the first time in its history will invite all the willing to go on an unforgettable musical journey with a special ARENA trolleybus. At 13:00 the trolleybus will pick up its passengers in the centre of Riga, to take them to the concert in Kalnciema Kvartāls, at 14:00. After the concert the concert-goers will be taken to the next concert in the basement of club ONEONE, but the musical journey will conclude with a concert in the Ģertrūde Street Theatre.

Following the tradition the festival began the previous year, on the evening of October 14 at 21:00 in club Nemiers ARĒNA offers to attend the CLUB NIGHT event, where short interludes of live performance academic music concertos will mingle with DJ played dance music based on pieces of academic music. This year in the CLUB NIGHT you will see performing  DJs Toms Auniņš and Oriole, as well as Veronika Zubairova (piano) and Vita Rozēna (flute).

On October 15 at 17:00 in the Reformation Church one will have the chance to see an international chamber music project Trio ORBIT (Greece), which has brought together Panayiotis Andreoglou (accordion), Gundega Šmite (piano) and Dimitris Marondis (electronics). The concert programme is based on combining exquisite electroacoustic pieces for the piano, accordion, and electronics. In the concert you will hear musical pieces from a wide historic range, beginning with the first historically recorded composition for piano and electronics – the Synchronisms by the pioneer of American electronic music Mario Davidovsky – till the newest opuses by Greek composers Panayiotis Kokoras and Dimitris Maronidis.

On October 17 at 19:00 in Latvian National Library’s Ziedoņa Hall, festival ARENA in cooperation with Latvijas Koncerti PLC invites to the Latvian Radio Bigband new programme premiere and CD presentation. In the programme The LATVIAN JAZZ SUITE: THE NEW COMPOSERS VOL II the Latvian Radio Big Band has offered the young and talented and already internationally acclaimed Latvian musicians and composers – pianists   Krists Auznieks, Rūdolfs Macats and guitarist Matīss Čudars –, to create original pieces for Latvian Radio Big Band. This will be already the third concert, where one will have the chance to hear completely new jazz pieces.

On October 18 at 19:00 in the Concert Hall of Zirgu Street we will hear a concert by Vestards Šimkus (piano ): VESTARDS ŠIMKUS. IMPROVISATIONS. THE WRITTEN DOWN ONES AND THE FREE. In the concert one will hear Vestards Šimkus’ free improvisations or musical pieces that will be created in front of the eyes of the viewers, and will exist only in this concert. In Vestards’ improvisation style one can feel the roots of contemporary academic music, jazz, world music, and early music, while he tries to find the meeting points in these seemingly very different genres of music. Alongside with the free improvisations one will hear the fantasies or the improvisations that had been written down – by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. In their fantasies the brilliant composers of classical music (who by the way were no less brilliant piano improvisers) allow themselves to wander over and through different moods, tonalities, textures of music, confidently leading the audience into the unknown.

This year’s contemporary music festival ARENA will come to its conclusion with a concert MADE IN BELGIUM, FROM BALCANS TO JAZZ on the 19th of October at 19:00 in the Chamber Hall of VEF, in Riga, and on the 20th of October in Hotel Promenade Hicks Hall in Liepaja. In these concerts one will have the chance to see performing the virtuous musical union from Belgium ARANIS , which will offer intellectual and emotional entertainment in a professionally impeccable and artistic performance. Skilfully balancing on the borders of contemporary academic, Balkan, klezmer, punk, jazz, and tango music, the Belgian instrumental quintet offers to get acquainted with the most recent pieces of Belgian music, the authors of which to most of the Latvian audience will be yet quite a discovery.The contemporary music festival ARENA takes place with the support of State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia, Riga City Council, Swiss foundations Pro Helvetia and Suissa, as well as the Whirlpool Corporation and the Latvian Radio.See you in the festival ARENA!

ARENA 2016 

Contemporary music festival ARENA is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and offers its visitors an exquisite and colourfully festive programme with world class musical celebrities participating in it!

Opening the festival’s 15th season on Tuesday, November 8, at 19:00 in the Great Guild in Riga the visitors will hear one of the leading contemporary music ensembles in the Northern countries – BIT 20 (Norway), conductor Christian Karlsen (Sweden). Together with the special guest, legend of contemporary music, French trombone player Vinko Globokar, who will play and conduct his own piece, whereas BIT 20 will perform a programme called KALEIDOSCOPE IN RIGA, in which we will hear pieces by Latvian composers Santa Bušs, Gundega Šmite and Andris Dzenītis.

On Wednesday, November 9, at 18:30, in Reformation Church in Riga in a concert IN LOVE WITH LIBERTY you will see performing Polish – German descendant British artist, pianist and poet Heloïse Ph. Palmer. The programme was inspired by the Latvian monument of Liberty and in this multi-media, multi-sensitive and provocative solo performance one will hear also new pieces by Latvian composers Santa Ratniece and Maija Einfelde.

On the same night at 20:00 also in the Reformation Church visitors will have the chance to hear the delightful Belgian chamber music ensemble Musiques Nouvelles in a concert CORDES INTIMES. It will be a subtle and intimate conversation performed by a string quartet, which you will hear performing pieces by Belgian composer Jean-Paul Dessy, Russian descendant Belgian composer Victor Kissine and the acclaimed Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks.

On Thursday, November 10, at 19:00, in Kalnciema Kvartāls in Riga, and on Saturday, November 12, at 17:00 in Hotel Promenade, Hicks Hall in Liepaja we will hear performing one of the greatest, highly acclaimed Portuguese instrumental ensembles – Lisbon Guitar Quartet. In the concert we will hear pieces from their musical album PRIMA LUCE written by 21st century Portuguese composers, including some of the musicians in the quartet.A special event within the festival is children’s opera KIRANA which will take place on November 12, at 17:00, in the Latvian Youth Theatre. The Maltese composer’s Ruben Zahra play is based on Myths of Creation from different cultures as well as four basic elements of the world – water, air, earth and fire. Children aged 10-15 from all over Latvia will participate in workshops to master the opera performance as well as create their own musical instruments, learn to play them, and acquire unique experience working with the composer of the opera, professional musicians, and a choreographer on a modern stage set. KIRANA, the opera has been recognised as one of the most innovative musical projects in Europe in 2014 and is currently in demand for educational programmes in many European concert halls and opera houses.The festival will conclude on Saturday, November 12 at 20:00 in the nightclub Nemiers (Unrest) with an untraditional event CLUB NIGHT – a musical cocktail mixed of short concerts of live academic music, and dance music based on classical music and played by club DJs. On the world’s musical arena such performances are seen on a regular basis, therefore the festival ARENA as a promoter of contemporary music beyond the walls of concert halls on its anniversary year wants to introduce this format also to Latvian audiences.See you at the ARENA!

ARENA 2015 

From 14 October until 6 November the New Music Festival ARENA will be held in Latvia for the 14th time. This year it will offer to the audience in Riga, Sigulda and Liepaja ten acoustical and visually unusual programs of contemporary music and art. For the first time in the festival there will be a special program for children, welcoming them both to enjoy the performances of music and art as well as to make the music instruments in special workshops.

This year’s program of the festival ARENA will include three unique projects of contemporary academic music. They must be marked among others especially because of their surprising music, content and stage design. And they are – the electroacoustic chamber opera MARIENGLASS, the project of the Latvian Radio Choir CANTO 33 and the world premiere of the musical performance NO SAY NO WAY by the French composer François Sarhan.

The chamber opera of the Swiss composer Beat Gysin MARIENGLASS, created as an adaption of the Franz Kafka’s novel “The Castle”, will be also a special performance. You will experience transformed stage and public spaces, unusual relationships between the artists and the public and a performing way of the composition, which brings together live and electronic music simultaneously. Three performances of this chamber opera will take place on 16 and 17 October in Riga Reformed Church.

Latvian Radio Choir, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, in collaboration with the colorful Swiss composer Helena Winkelman has prepared for the audience of this festival the project CANTO 33. This is a 60 minutes long performance, which creation was inspired by the texts of the immortal “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. The world first performance of this composition will take place on 24 October in Erfurt Cathedral in Germany. In Riga it will be heard on 30 October in St. Peter’s Church.

The French composer François Sarhan will contribute to this year’s festival program with the world premiere of his musical performance NO SAY NO WAY, which will take place on 1 November in the Culture Space “3 māsas”. The partaking artists of this event are the extraordinary percussionist Jennifer Torrence (USA/Norway) and the composer himself, who is also the stage designer of the performance. No classical percussion will be used on the stage, only the body percussion and household objects.

Along with the above mentioned performances the festival offers also two concerts of classical contemporary music given by two outstanding performers. The ensemble MISE-EN (USA) is one of the most remarkable performers of contemporary music in New York today. The newest compositions of American composers performed by the MISE-EN ensemble will be heard on 29 October in Riga Latvian Society House in the concert AMERICAN TV COMERCIALS. Rzewski and Young American Composers.EL CIMARRON DUO (Austria/Italy) is an ensemble of the guitar and percussion artists. On 20 October in the Gallery of the Artists’ Union of Latvia they will perform three new compositions by Oskars Herliņš, Gerhard Stäbler and Agustín Castilla-Ávila in the program COUNTERPOINT. UTOPIAN DIALOGUES.The well-known and recognized Latvian composer and ethnomusicologist Valdis Muktupāvles (Latvian folk music instrument kokle, voice) in collaboration with the Swiss artist and composer Helena Winkelman (violin, voice) invites to the improvisation concerts of folklore and contemporary music FROM THE ALPS TO THE GAIZIŅŠ. In these concerts, which will take place from 27 until 31 October, we will enjoy the conversation of the Latvian and Swiss traditional and contemporary music.A special event is also the reading of the most known Turkish singer Mustafa Dogan Dikmen ROOTS IN THE FUTURE about the meeting point of the Middle East and Western European music. On 5 November in Riga Latvian Society House he will perform together with the unique and world-recognized intercultural music ensemble SARBAND.But for the first time in its history the festival ARENA offers a special gift for the littlest music enjoyers. In the concerts of the program FOREST SONGS the Latvian musicians Baiba Renerte, Artūrs Noviks, Ilze Gagaine and Jēkabs Nīmanis will perform contemporary music for children. The composer Marina Gribinčika will lead the workshops of making the music instruments. You are welcome to participate in these programs in Riga, Sigulda and Liepaja.Tickets to the concerts can be purchased in the booking-office Biļešu paradīze

ARENA in Classical: NEXT 2015 in Rotterdam

From 20 to 23 May, New Music Festival ARENA will participate in the international professional's forum for classical and art music Classical: NEXT in Rotterdam, Netherlands, representing three co-productions by Latvian and foreign artists.

ZAUBER- UND BANNSPRUCHE AUS ALTER ZEIT / SPELLS AND CHARMS FROM ANCIENT TIMES (2013) is created by composer Helena Winkelman (Switzerland) and conductor Antra Drege (Latvia), based on ancient Latvian and Swiss texts. Thirteen new pieces are performed in combination with traditional instrumental Swiss folk dances and Latvian a cappella folk songs. Listen to the excerpts (20 min.) from concert in Alpentöne festival (Altdorf, Switzerland)  and to the final piece “Du lustige Filifausel" (2 min.) in our youtube channel.

CLAYBIRD'S LULLABY (2014) is composed by Latvian composer Santa Ratniece, who has written this work especially for clay birds (ocarinas), made by children in Ziemeli orphanage in Riga under the guidance of swedish artist Knutte Wester who has initiated this project. The clay birds in this piece portray the lives of nine children and is accompanied by eight voices and cello. 

CANTICUM CANTICORUM (2014) is a project, inspired by texts of “Song of Songs” and realized with the participation of Latvian Radio Choir (conductor Kaspars Putniņš), ensemble SARBAND (leader Vladimir Ivanoff) and six composers that represent the northern Europe and the Middle East: Lasse Thoresen (Norway), Toivo Tulev (Estonia), Mārtiņš Viļums and Santa Ratniece (both Latvia); Bushra El-Turk (Lebanon / UK) and Vladimir Ivanoff (Bulgaria / Germany).

ARENA 2014 

For the thirteenth year already the New Music Festival ARENA offers scenery of diverse genres. This year festival’s theme “Crossing Borders” indicates the authors’ wish to explore the tangency of diverse styles and expressions of contemporary music. The programme includes six concerts of interdisciplinary and conceptual projects, exquisite studies of the sound in the instrumental and the vocal media, as well as sacred music. The festival contains also lectures and discussions by both Latvian and foreign guests:- Ilma Grauzdiņa “Contemporary Music – Is It But a Serious Conversation Partner?”,- Boriss Avramecs “On the Crossroads of Rock and Academic Music”- Artūrs Mednis “Social Networking – How Does Music Cooperate with the Present Age?”,- John Palmer (Great Britain) “The Art of Listening to Contemporary Music” and- Javier Hagen (Germany / Switzerland) “Does Contemporary Music Possess a Nationality?”.

Conductor Sigvards Kļava has drafted a concert programme of sacred music HE AND SHE, which includes compositions by the American David Lang and the Spaniard Ramon Humet alongside compositions by Latvian composers Maija Einfelde, Santa Ratniece, Juris Karlsons and Andrejs Selickis. The programme will entail even first performances: the original work by Maija Einfelde “Jūras sagša”, as well as the traditional prayers in a new arrangement by Jānis Lūsēns. At the concert Latvian Radio Choir will perform together with the cellist Guna Šnē, the viola player Liene Kļava, the saxophonist Artis Sīmanis and soprano Kristiāns Jasinskis, a student of Līvāni Music School.

In cooperation with ensemble SARBAND (Germany / Middle East) Latvian Radio Choir and conductor Kaspars Putniņš will give an open master-class on the integration of traditional Middle East music and instruments in the modern art of sounds. This master-class is part of a wider project “Song of Songs”, in the framework of which new music is composed by Lasse Thoresen, Toivo Tulev, Mārtiņš Viļums, Santa Ratniece, Bushra El – Turk and Vladimir Ivanoff.

The dramatic materiality of THE HUMMING OF CLOUDS, performed at ARĒNA by the trio ART-I-SHOCK in cooperation with lights designer Mārtiņš Feldmanis and video scenic designer Arturs Dzirnis, encompasses beliefs on clouds and the poetically associative connection of a gong and the moon. The artists will perform opuses by Arvo Pärt, Andris Dzenītis, Osvaldo Golijov and Terje Rypdal, as well as a new composition by Agneta Krilova for this particular concert program.

The festival is particularly proud of its guests – the musicians of the Swiss / German duet UMS'N JIP Ulrike Mayer-Spohn and Javier Hagen, as well as the competent and versatile Australian contemporary percussion ensemble SPEAK PERSUCCION. The musicians of the duet UMS'N JIP will perform together with countertenor Sergejs Jēgers and organist Ilze Reine in program BAROQUE AND AVANT-GARDE, which alongside compositions by Monteverdi, Purcell and Gluck includes compositions by today’s composers Sofia Gubaidulina, Max Keller, Anton Svetlichny and others. The visual ornamentation of the concert, mixing baroque and avant-garde elements, is made by artists Ieva Taranda and Daina Gāga-Ēķe. As regards SPEAK PERCUSSION, it has brought “Circuit” to Riga, entailing opuses by Australian and Danish authors.

The most extensive first performance of this year’s ARENA is the extraordinary interdisciplinary project CLAYBIRD'S LULLABY by Swedish artist Knutte Wester and composer Santa Ratniece, conceptually combining drawings and sounds of specially made clay birds and voices. The concert will include the participation of the vocal ensemble PUTNI, and art historian Sarmīte Sīle.

See you at ARENA!

ARENA 2003

To perceive the imperceivable – the high-points of unloading of tensity in the present world of music – the playground must be relatively capacious. On the ARENA ground a dense and intense atmosphere is to be expected! György Ligeti alone with his unlimited freedom of mind and imagination is challenge enough for the connoisseurs eager to listen. In the relationship of the unique master with his environment lies the appeal of unrelenting directness, this emerges in the apparent invitation (read: demand) to the addressee of his art – Open your ears!, in the ability to cement microscopic structures into the foundation of grand forms and extended musical ideas, as well as in a healthy unpredictability unveiling in the personal tragic and venturing of brusque jokes and irony.

A real nuclear reaction takes place among the creative forces of Latvia. Strategically significant explosives are prepared and new recipes tested by Maija Einfelde, Peteris Butans, Andris Dzenitis, Rolands Kronlaks, Vilnis Smidbergs, Martins Vilums. Quite often great composers have been given an additional voluntary point of support by enthusiastic and one-hundred-percent professional interpreters. In the selflessly acquired deeps of the ARDITTI quartet many of our most innovative and capricious contemporaries have driven inspiration. The attractive Finnish new music stage already for twenty years is unimaginable without the intense creative company of AVANTI!. The Latvian Radio Choir, the Riga Chamber Musicians and the Riga Festival Orchestra on their hand are awaiting the presence of their present and potential fans in unique and exquisite moments of jointly interested revelations.

The music of Gavin Bryars flows in another stream bed, its seeming calmness invites to follow almost with the eyes the infinite horizon line. This man, who has become almost a cult figure to a great part of music friends, has been seen here modestly for a number of times during the past year; it is possible, that the master's musical lines and the not too Europeanized rhythm of life of the Baltics have initiated some resonating vibrations between each other.

Fights in this ARENA never end with a defeat. Come to the ground!

ARENA 2002

The Latvian audience (not unreasonably though) tends to regard itself to be sufficiently well aware of the ABC's of classical values to be able to digest the streams of the contemporary art world – so to say, the contemporary art pulse readily resonates on our cultural scene. True, it doesn't pulsate in all fields with equal verve and steadiness. Theatre in Latvia has its festival "Homo Novus", cinema identifies itself with the word "Arsenāls", art has its magazine "Studija", literature enjoys international relations – even if they require further improvement, but music – ? We celebrate, among others, opera music, piano stars, early music, sacred music, boys' choirs, while new music has always remained in an underpriviliged position. The niche is free, the gate is open. What to do next?

It is not that there is nothing happening at all in Latvia, of course: the activities of the Latvian Radio Choir, aimed at attracting composers and commissioning new works are generally well-known, the "Riga Chamber Players" have shown an increased interest about contemporary music since their foundation, the Riga Festival Orchestra courageously continues its work in this field, now and then a premiere of a flamboyant new composition makes a dramatic flash, but this process has been inconsistent, chaotic and unfocused. The birth of "Arena" aspires to impart more definite outlines to the activities of Latvian new music.And finally – there will be doubtlessly an exciting meeting with Joe Zawinul and his like-minded fellows at the Riga Festival Orchestra concert. "Arena" is eagerly awaiting its audience and is assured that there are many of them currently hiding in the quite a lot!

Posing this and similar questions to each other for several years in succession, a group of congenial minds (composer Pēteris Vasks, conductors Normunds Šnē, Kaspars Putniņš, Sigvards Kļava, musicologist Baiba Kurpniece, composer Andris Dzenītis, director of the Latvian Radio Choir Guntars Ķirsis) thought at length about a name for what it was to create, until it came to them. In spring 2002 the news about the New Music festival ARENA (22 October – 9 November 2002) appeared in Latvian music circles. In most other self-respecting countries such contemporary music parades are an integral part of music life encouraging international contacts, the exchange of ideas, acquisition of experience and the creation of new works, and in addition (which is of special importance!) in this way, each country's new music is given the opportunity to leap over the threshold of the immediate neighborhood and make a breakthrough into the wider world. In Lithuania and Estonia there are two such forums annually. Finally Latvia, too, has decided to bring its contribution to the global scene of new music !

The festival's major lines are as follows: first, promotion of new Latvian music; second, the involvement of performers of international standing; third, the invitation of a prominent composer – as a special guest of the festival. This year the invitee is the composer Arvo Pärt. A meeting with the Master is planned and the discussion will be shared with Pēteris Vasks. There will be an opportunity to hear one of the most daring and excellent contemporary music ensembles "Das Neue Ensemble". The festival will feature works by Arvo Pärt, Pēteris Vasks and Arturs Maskats, and will premiere Maijas Einfelde's choral composition. The master classes of new Baltic composers in Dundaga will result in a concert in the Academy of Music, and the first concert of electronic and electro-acoustic music in Latvia will take place in the Latvian Radio Studio I.