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March 19, 2011

A Baltic Tradition’s Youthful Voice

New York Times:

Evidence of a lively choral music tradition flourishing among the Baltic nations has been with us for some time now: in splendid recordings the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has made for Harmonia Mundi and ECM, and in ravishing performances by the Latvian National Choir at Lincoln Center last year.

Add to their ranks Kamer , a celebrated youth chorus from Riga, Latvia, which made its New York debut on Thursday evening with a brief but thrilling concert in the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.

Founded in 1990 at Riga State High School No. 1 by the conductor Maris Sirmais, who led most of this concert, Kamer ... (Latvian for “while”) is made up of 70 vocalists from 16 to 30 years old. About half that many fresh-faced young men and women sang here. But their sound was substantial, as you would expect from an organization with a formidable tally of international competition awards to its credit.

The program, “The Madrigals of Love,” consisted chiefly of well-made, euphonious modern Latvian love songs, including selections by Rihards Dubra, Juris Vaivods, Margeris Zarins and Arturs Maskats. A clutch of minor but attractive Western European madrigals from the 16th through 19th centuries - led by Janis Liepins, a chorister and Kamer ...’s tousle-haired second conductor - showed the group’s estimable command of English, German and French.

But on hearing Kamer ...’s bright sound, clear diction and sumptuous blend, you understood immediately what prompted substantial contemporary composers like Arvo Pärt, Peteris Vasks and John Luther Adams to create new works for it. Read more.

This group was the runaway hit at the ACDA convention in Chicago and we sold every one of their CDs. There was a strong contingent from the Baltic region at the convention and I enjoyed meeting and working with many of them.

Posted by acapnews at March 19, 2011 12:00 AM

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