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JANIS PURINS on music education in Latvia


The Wind Orchestra Riga organized the Fifth Competition for Wind and Percussion Instrument Players of Latvian Music Schools during the last weekend of January. The country has approximately 100 music schools, where young people aged 10-18 acquire their first music skills. The next steps are music colleges and higher educational establishments. Not all the music schools offer wind tuition - in some schools, only the flute can be studied.

When the orchestra Riga began to organise this competition five years ago, its main goal was to raise young people's interests in studying an instrument to a professional level.

The competition is also a kind of audition for the Latvian Youth Wind Orchestra, which will come together for the fifth time this summer. In the first competition there were less than one hundred participants, but this January it gathered more than two hundred young musicians. The popularity of wind music is not very high in Latvia. In a country with 2.5 million inhabitants there are approximately 70 wind orchestras having 15 - 20 members each. Many towns and villages have no orchestra at all. The Latvian Youth Wind Orchestra gathers its members, who have all taken part in the competition, from all over the country. The rivalry is great - to be sure to get a place in the orchestra, the young musician has to win one of the prizes. Is it easy to be one of the best six among 50 flautists in the competition? Certainly not, if you do not work really hard.

The competition jury consists of musicians from the orchestra Riga and invited teachers from music colleges and the Latvian Music Academy. Each year we also try to invite a wind music specialist from abroad - this year it was Professor Pieluigi Destro from Padua Conservatory in Italy. In previous years we've had guests from the Netherlands, Lithuania and Sweden.

This year, for the first time, we organised a special day for students of music colleges who have chosen to become professional musicians and who have taken part in at least one of our previous competitions. This contest gained considerable attention - there were 33 participants. That's a lot considering the total number of students in all the colleges, and bearing in mind the prestige of a musical career in Latvia nowadays.

Among the jury members were the Musical Director of the Military Band of Luxembourg, Andre Reichling, and the rector of the Latvian Music Academy, Professor Juris Karlsons.

The Gala prizegiving ceremony on 4 March will be held at the best concert hall in Riga - the Liela Gilde concert hall. The first prize winners and the orchestra Riga will perform the mandatory pieces from this competition, and special orchestral arrangements for this ceremony are now in progress. The Gala event is a big celebration for young musicians, their teachers, and their parents as well as for all fans.

Prizes have been provided by the Municipality of Riga, the orchestra Riga, Yamaha-Latvija, the Music Center and all other annual contest sponsors.


On 4 February in the Big Hall of the Latvia Music Academy the professional wind orchestra Riga gave a concert with a guest conductor from Luxembourg - Andre Reichling. It was the first night performance in Latvia of the Bizet - Schedrin suite Carmen, arranged for wind orchestra by A. Reichling. Flautist Ieva Pudane performed the Concerto for flute and orchestra in E minor by S. Mercadante.

The audience liked the potpourri of melodies by Charlie Chaplin, as well as one of the classical masterpieces for wind orchestra - the Overture for wind orchestra by Mendelssohn.

This is Mr. A. Reichling's second performance with the orchestra Riga, enchanting all listeners and musicians with his musicality and high level of professionalism.


From 6 until 13 March a conductor from the USA, Dr. John P. Graulty, will work with the orchestra and perform concerts in Riga and the local area.


From 5 until 8 of April, cellist Mrs. Anna-Maria Ganter-Hess from Austria will perform the Concerto for cello and wind orchestra by Freidrich Gulda, with the Wind Orchestra Riga.


Copyright © 28 February 2000 Janis Purins, Riga, Latvia


Janis Purins is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Wind Orchestra Riga.




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