On April 9, 2015 at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York, Ms. Dace Melbārde, Latvia’s Minister of Culture and Ambassador Andris Razāns, Latvia’s Ambassador to the U.S. opened the National Choir „Latvija” concert „Voices from the Baltic Shores.” This was the main event of Latvia’s public diplomacy and culture program of the Latvian Presidency of the European Union in the United States and United Nations.
In opening the concert Latvia’s Ambassador Andris Razāns stated: „Nearly a quarter century after the important geopolitical changes of the last century – the fall of the USSR and the end of the Cold War - Latvia – from an occupied and non-existent country on political maps – today holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. I consider this a victory and an accomplishment for Latvia. The National Choir „Latvija” concert in the cultural and economic metropolis of New York – the headquarters of the United Nations – is quite an appropriate way to celebrate Latvia and the achievements of its people. It is an appropriate way to thank the United States for its partnership and support,”
In her speech at the opening if the concert, Minister of Culture Dace Melbarde emphasized „Latvia’s name and its world-class musical talents are well-known in the music world in the United States – our talents are respected and honored here. I hope this concert will reveal the Latvian singing and choir tradition that has played an important role in the formation of our nation during various periods of Latvia’s development.”
Artistic director Māris Sirmais of the National Choir „Latvija” stated: „I won’t be exagerating by saying that we have brought a parade of real choral masterpieces to New York. We have formed our program by selecting works from the most outstanding and unique choral composers of the Baltic region.”
As examples the conductor listed world-famous Estonian composers Arvo Part and Veljo Tormis, as well as Latvian composers Ēriks Ešenvalds, Pēteris Vasks un Arturs Maskats, whose names are well-known to classical music lovers throughout the world. Other European regions and eras were represented by pieces by Alessandro Scarlatti, Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn, Sven-David Sandstrom and other composers.
One of the most famous American choir pieces Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine , composed by Eric Whitacre, winner of multiple Grammy awards, was performed especially for Americans in the audience. Before the concert, the Choir „Latvija” director emphasized that this composer is very special to him as well. „Many excellent Latvian choirs include his music in their repertoire” stated Māris Sirmais.
The concert was widely attended by representatives of the U.S. political, art and culture worlds, United Nations diplomats, leaders from the Latvian community in the U.S. and others. The Embassy of Latvia in the U.S. organized the Lincoln Center concert in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Latvia’s Permanent Mission to the UN, the American Latvian Association, Lincoln Center and „Pata AB.”