ARĒNA 2020

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.