Review for the festival Baltica'03, Riga,
15 December 2002
The concert took place at the Ave Sol concert hall where there is a
very good acoustics, but rather few seats. This is why it was a pity to see
that only a half of the seats were taken. The weather was bad on that day,
though a person, who is interested in the processes of folklore in Latvia,
should appreciate this opportunity to see so many folklore groups on the same
The folklore group Senleja from Sigulda opened the concert with a program
of songs on the sun and summer field works of a peasant. Several dances were
added to the performance and that made the whole thing more attractive. It
would however been pleasant to see more inactive from the group members and
not only from the leader who did the whole speaking and playing the
Next were the folklore group Rija from Riga who won the interest of the
public with their small dancers and the great number of people on the stage.
Leader of this group talked a great deal in between the songs and dances. The
group is based in a secondary school and that was also visible in the way the
They were followed by the girls' folklore group Lāns. Every of them played
some kind of a musical instrument. They sang mostly alone or in pairs and this
made the singing to sound uncertain, as all were rather afraid of the stage
So the group Silavoti came on the stage. The group consisted mainly of
women and the program that they sang with great passion was compiled of songs
about the mythological personage God. The singing itself was however too
After them the folklore group Grodi came to perform and it was nice to see
them take part in a competition. Grodi consists of only five members but
they managed to "fill" the stage with their program that tried to imitate a
situation from the turn of the century of joint work and the party that
follows it. They sang very well and in addition managed to make the whole
thing rather funny.
The joint work theme was continued by the folklore group Laiksne
that also unites five members. Their performance did not have any theatrical
elements but emphasised voices of the singers and the public enjoyed it a lot.
Finally the Liv ensemble Līvlist
sang and their performance was completely
devoted to the Liv folksongs. The violinist that played the melodies of the
first songs was probably the only element that made this Livlists
performance differ from all the others.
After a break the new group Visi vēji came. Every of six group's
members played a musical instrument and all of them sang, as well. It is clear
that the group does not have a lot of performing experience that would allow
them to feel free on the stage. If that comes, they will be good, though
relatively post-folkloristic (it is a style, similar to the world music).
In addition, they were the only group of all
those who performed on this day that would attract the attention of people who
are not particularly interested in folklore.
The group to follow was Artava
from Ogre. The women of the group told the
public that the main reason why they come together and sing is that they are
having fun doing it. Nevertheless their performance was better than the one a
couple of years ago. The last children's song that they sang about various
farm animals and tried to play the role of each of these animals was however a
little bit strange.
The next group was children's folklore group Taureņi from Taurupe, and they
received the greatest admiration from the public. Their performance consisted
of many things - singing, playing, and dancing. It was a positive surprise to
see the small Taurupeans dancing some of the most difficult Latvian folk
dances, like Suitinsh or Brichka.
After them a group of young Russians
performed. They sang well and loudly as always. Though I do not know very much
about the Russian folklore, it seemed to me that the cradle song should have
been sung more quietly, as there were lots of other songs for showing one's
ability of singing so loudly.
The one but last a completely new group called Zvigzna came. Their
performance consisted of interesting folksongs devoted to a person that has
recently passed. They sang well and the only male participant even managed to
hold a balance between male and female voices. The only funny element was the
girl who was supposed to play a dead person. She did not stand still for a
long time but managed both to join the singers of the group and to offer
traditional food to the public.
The last group to perform was the folklore band
The theme of their performance was the making and drinking of beer which is
not surprising, as the group leader's passion for this drink is well known.
They played and sang as good as always with a great deal of joy and thankfully
their songs did not sound too similar to each other.
It is possible to conclude that there are no groups in Riga that are
completely alike. We have some very high range groups that can successfully
represent Latvia abroad. The things that we need are professional management
and advertising of the folklore groups and folklore itself. If we had that, it
would be possible to attract much more public to all kinds of folklore events
and more people could enjoy our ancient traditions.
Article: Ieva Pīgozne-Brinkmane, 6 January 2003
Photos: Ilze Kovere