Folklore festival "Baltica", Riga, Turaida and Latgalia,
9-13 July 2003
A hay joint-work, Turaida, 11 July
Before Baltica I have planed to write many reportings from different
concerts of the festival, however, after the festival I have understood,
that I have apprehended it all in all, and it is almost impossible to divide
Baltica began by a day of the Baltic states, in which only Latvian,
Lithuanian and Estonian groups has participated. A concert of beer songs on
the Livonian square was interesting both by subject and a Latgalian conduction.
A little bit later on the Dome square began a concert of dances.
In the program of the second - Riga's - day there were performances on
places of Old Riga, concerts in five halls and two evening bigconcerts. The day
was cheerful, the concerts - beautiful, the procession - successful, in general, all
was well. After the procession on the Dome place was held an opening ceremony
of the festival.
The ancient people conjure, Turaida, 11 July
The third day began by street concerts in Sigulda, and then
has moved to Turaida, where passed performances of folklore theatres and
hay joint-works from different areas of Latvia (hay and milk was a motto
of the festival). At evening was a concert of dances, after which on
the same place began a bigconcert. At the first part of the concert Latvian
ensembles in archeological clothes have shown a ritual of offering. At the
second part foreign ensembles performed. During the concert some nice details
have pleased: the well made fire, which, lightened from above, have burned
during all the concert, a cart of hay, passed on the hill in the background
of the scene etc. After the concert there were dances, but at half past one them,
unfortunately, have dispersed. However, excepted this incident, this day
of the festival was the most successful: maybe because of the large number
of participants (some of them was not able to arrive to all the days), maybe -
because of the beautiful place, or maybe - because of the succesfull concert.
At the fourth day participants have parted to various cities and villages of
Latgalia, so, for each group this day was different - some drinked home-made beer,
some washed in bath, but everybody was met with pleasure, because country-side's
inhabitants are very hospitable.
The last day passed in Rezekne (because of financial reasons, final
concerts of many festivals recently are arranged not in Riga, but in others
large cities of Latvia). Since morning there were street concerts, workshop of
foreign participants (unfortunately, only Ukrainian workshop was well prepared),
concert near Mara's monument and dancing concert in the Culture house. At evening
the final concert in the city's park begun. To the concert by a helicopter has
arrived the president of Latvia, her met and accompanied the chapter of city
Začests. Maybe because of the visitors of high rank, maybe because of weariness
of the last day, anyway the concert was slightly nervous. After the concert
there were dancings, which, though nobody did not disperse, were finished
already at half past one.
Setu men, Turaida, 11 July
In the festival interesting foreign groups has participated:
Armenian dancing collective of a very good level (Sasun), Polish dancing
ensemble with two staffs (youth and older people) (Sadeczane), Finnish dancers (Ahjola tanhuaiat),
Italian orchestra of panpipes (Picett del Grenta), English dancers-fools (The Chameleonic Morris Men), Norwegian youth
dancing ensemble (Smajondolenes dansarlag), Setu singers from Tartu (Liinats'uraq), united brigade of young Estonian
folklorists (Sinimaniseele), already known in Latvia Lithuanian band Duja, Russian
girls from Petersburg conservatory (sang well, but ours
was better), very mighty both in singing, in playing, and in dancing Ukrainian
trinity of ensembles (Drevo, Volodar', Gurtopravcy), and also Latvian ensembles from England and USA.
Unfortunately ensembles of small nations were not so qualitative: in songs
Navajo Indian women (Chinle Valley Singers) were some English words ("far away"), and the dresses
were sewed from American flags and synthetics with flowers (it looks that
Indians are very practical people); Ains in general seem counterfeit -
they talked Japanese and also were dressed in Japanese kimonos.
In general, as a sequence of concerts, Baltica was succesfull.
However, unfortunately contacts between groups (it should be the main
sense of a festival!) was organized at a very bad level, much worse,
than the previous years.
Also I wish to note the successful decorative design of the festival:
the symbolical large wooden rakers has not only decorated cities and villages, but
also successfully advertised the festival.
Article: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš, 18 July 2003
Photos: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš