News from Riga
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
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
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
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
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