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Folklore festival "Baltica", Riga, Turaida and Latgalia,
9-13 July 2003

Photo
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 the impressions.
      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.

Photo
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.

Photo
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 Iljinskaja pjatnica 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


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26 January 2006



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