ERP artist Galaxy
December 10, 2011
ERP artist Vardo Rumessen. Piano
Vardo Rumessen
December 11, 2011


The State Choir Latvija – the largest professional choir in Latvia – was founded in 1942. The chorus gained the title of the State Choir in 1947 and since early 90s its name includes Latvija. The State Choir Latvija received the Latvian Grand Music Award in 1998, 2000 and 2002, and the Prize of the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia in 2003.

The founder and first conductor of the State Choir Latvija was Janis Ozolins followed by Janis Dumins and Daumants Gailis. In 1969 the leadership of the choir was taken over by Imants Cepitis who together with Ausma Derkevica have been polishing the choir’s mastery for almost a quarter of a century. Since 1997, the artistic director and principal conductor of the choir is Māris Sirmais and the general manager − Māris Ošlejs.
The cornerstones of the choir’s repertoire are large-scale compositions − oratorios, cantatas, masses, requiems, symphonies and concert performances of operas. Their repertoire also encompasses extensive a cappella programs as well as compositions for chorus and organ. This covers music from early Renaissance to the present day (Messiaen, Britten, Honegger, Vasks, Pärt, Kancheli among others), and recently with a special emphasis on Latvian conductors.
The State Choir Latvija has developed a creative co-operation with leading symphony orchestras in Latvia, Israel, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, Moscow, St Petersburg, and successfully collaborated with many conductors – Māris Jansons, Neeme Järvi, Mstislav Rostropovich, Valerij Gergiyev, Gintaras Rinkevicius, Andres Mustonen, Kristjan Järvi, Zubin Mehta, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Risto Joost, Tõnu Kaljuste et al.
Most significant recent achievements include the debut in Lucerne festival (Mar 2009, Chapter Eight by Alexander Knaifel), the debut in  Finlandia Hall (Sep 2008), the world première of Deer’s Cry by Arvo Pärt (2008, Ireland), world première of Russian Requiem by Lera Auerbach (Sep 2007, Bremen Music Festival), performance of Mass by Leonard Bernstein (2007, the 10th International Sacred Music Festival), the performance of Arnold Schönberg’s opera Moses and Aaron (Graz), etc.
Latvija has participated in recording the soundtrack for the film Perfume (Das Parfum; directed by Tom Tykwer). In September 2006, this music was also released as a CD by EMI Classics under the title Perfume (Original Soundtrack). Other participants of the recording were the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. The Choir has also taken part in records of such recording companies as Warner Classics as well as in CDs of many Latvian, German and countless foreign producers and labels.

ImagetextMāris Sirmais (1969) graduated from the choral conducting class at the Latvian Academy of Music in 1992. Soon after, he continued his studies at the Academy, where he acquired his Master’s degree in Prof I Kokars’ class in 1996. Māris Sirmais continued to study orchestral conducting at the University of Music and Drama in Graz, Austria in the class of Prof Sieghart. Already in 1990, before completing his studies, Māris Sirmais founded the Youth Choir Kamēr (‘While’). From 1992 until 1997, Māris Sirmais was also the conductor for Female Choir Dzintars. Since then, the quality performances of this outstanding choir have merited honorary awards in more than 43 choir competitions such as: Rigas Zile Youth Choir Competition (1992), The National Choir Competition of the XXI Latvian Song and Dance Festival (1993), C A Seghizzi (Italy, 1996), International Choir Competition (Spain, 1996), International Choir Competition (Debrecen, 1996), Torrevieja-Certamen Internacional de Habaneras y Polifonia (Spain, 1997), International Choir Competition (Switzerland, 1997), Let the People Sing (Belgium, 1997), International Choir Competition (Ireland, 1998), International Choir Competition (Poland), Spittal an der Drau (Austria, 1999). In 1999, Māris Sirmais and Kamēr participated in the world renowned Chamber Choir Competition in Marktobersdorf and received awards for the Best Choir, the Best 20th Century Music Interpreter and the Best Renaissance Music Performer. In the same year, the choir participated in the festival Harmonia ’99 (Germany) and came in first place in the Mixed Choir, Female Chamber Choir and Mixed Chamber Choir categories, as well as received the Grand Prix.


Press resonance

It appears that this is the moment where monotony could strike, or one’s attention could fade, but the previously dormant bass vocals along with “Latvija” raise emotion once again. There, the necessary repletion, expression and inspiration! (Ugis Vilcins, Literatura Un Maksla Latvija, Latvia)

The movements with the choir are particularly uplifting, and the singers’ ability to quickly switch from the meditative, self-absorbing sections to full-force exaltations is truly admirable. Even in sequences such as Et incarnatusCrucifixusEt ressurexit the timing and especially the expression of the choir’s connection to the verse is continuous throughout every moment. (Ievina Liepiņa, The Independent Morning Newspaper, 04.09.00) 

There were no such misgivings, however, over the spellbinding, zealously-projected choral singing of the State Choir “Latvija”, which was fervent, full-voiced, resonant, bitingly incisive in diction whether in full, rolling legato in the Song about Nevsky or in their upbeat call-to-arms, and with tenors attacking their high B-flats fearlessly. (Lionel Chio, The Straits Times, 11.04.01, Singapore)

Choral vocals are provided by the State Choir Latvija and the Riga Cathedral Boy’s Choir. /…/ Both mixed voice and boy’s choruses are on excellent form… Highly recommended for a novel experience. (John Miller,, 15.12.12, Australia, whole article)

Der Staatschor der Republik Lettland bot ein Festspielniveau aller erster Klasse. Man hörte die Stille klingen. Maris Sirmais dirigierte nicht, sondern malte plastische Bewegungen vor den Chor hin, die aus sich heraus schon zu klingen schienen. Die hohe Qualität der Chorstimmen in ihrer Einheit und zugleich deutlichen Unterschiedlichkeit und Klarheit der Stimmführungen war ein Erlebnis. (Friedwald Blume, Südkurier No 13, 17.05.01, Germany)

Dominiert wird der Chor “Latvija” von den Frauenstimmen, denen die Männer eine dezente, trotzdem präsente grundierung geben. Diese Frauenstimmen singen kompakt und gerade, wie auf Schienen, können sich zu einem faszinierendem Superstrahl steigern, aber auch (zusammen mit den Männem) ins kleinste Piano zuruckgehen, was der Chor unter seinem Leiter Maris Sirmais nicht weniger gern und für die Zuhörer vielleicht noch eindrücklicher tut. Der gesamte Vortrag ist dynamisch höchst plastisch und gewinnt einen Ausdruck von Energie und überlegtem Aufbau. (Gunther Dahinten, Zentrale Dienste, 31.05.00, Germany)



Film director, cpomposer – Tom Tykwer
Music – Soundtrack
Together with the Berliner Filharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle, Kristjan Järvi
2006, EMI
Peeter Vähi – oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel
Together with Sevara Nazarkhan (soprano), Juris Jēkabsons (tenor), Eduards Fiskovičs (baritone), Priit Volmer (basso), Uģis Meņģelis (basso), Peeter Volkonski (narrator), Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Risto Joost
2012, ERP 5412
playerMary Magdalene Gospel, Mov I Peuangelion kata Marihamm, fragm, 3 min 18 sec, mp3, 128 Kbps
Music by I Ramiņš, Ē Ešenvalds, V Miškinis, A Pärt, P Vasks, R Dubra, P Butāns, G Pelēcis, V Tormis
Conductor: Māris Sirmais
2008, VAK-0801
player V Tormis Curse Upon Iron, fragm, 3 min 53 sec, mp3
R Dubra – Mass Signum Magnum
Conductor Māris Sirmais
2002, VAK-0202
J Rheinberger – Mass in E-flat, F Poulenc – Mass in G, E Rautavaara – Cancion de nuestro tiempo
Conductor: Māris Sirmais
2002, VAK-0201
Choral songs of Leonids Vigners
Soloists: Antra Bigaca, Dace Zemzare, Viesturs Jansons, conductor: Māris Sirmais
2001, VAKL-0103
G Fr Händel – Ode zu Ehren der heiligen Cäcilia von John Dryden
Soloists: Cornelia Götz, Hans-Jürgen Schöpflin, Egbert Junghanns, Süd-West Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, conductor: Alexander Sumski
With Liepaya City Orchestra, Kristīne Galīte – soprano, Riga Dom Church Boys’ Choir, Riga Dom Cathedral Female Choir, conductor Māris Sirmais
2006, VAK-0601
Imagetext Lucija Garuta, Andrejs Eglitis
Soloists: Aleksandrs Polakovs, Viesturs Jansons, conductor: Māris Sirmais
1999, State Choir Latvija
Anton Bruckner. Mass in F minor
Conductor: Alexander Sumski
2004, Boodensee-Festivak, Südwestrundfunk, BSF 04
Imagetext CONRADIN KREUTZER (1780–1849)
Mass in B major Meßkircher Messe, Te Deum in D major, Missa de Sta Francisca in E-flat major
Soloists: Cornelia Götz, Ruth Sandhoff, Hans-Jürgen Schöpflin, Egbert Junghanns, Süd-West Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, conductor: Alexander Sumski
1999, Süd-West Rundfunk Baden-Baden
player Mass in B major, fragm, 51 sec, mp3
Conductors: Māris Sirmais, Inita Mazone
1998, State Choir Latvija
The Mostar Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Ilmar Lapinsch
player Symphony No 9 by Beethoven, 4th movement, fragm, 59 sec, mp3

Main repertoire

Bach – St Mathew Passion, St John Passion, Easter-Oratorio, Cantatas Nos 4, 7, 9, 18, 21, 44, 96, 112;  Mass in B minor;  Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat in D major; motets Komm, Jesu, komm, Jesu, meine Freude, and Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied
Barkauskas – Stabat Mater
Beethoven – Symphony No 9, Choral Fantasy, Missa Solemnis in D major
Berlioz – Grande messe des morts (Requiem), La Damnation de Faust, Roméo et Juliette, Messe Solennelle
Bortnyansky – Gloria; Concertos for choir Nos 1, 3, 15, 32
Brahms – Ein deutsches Requiem, Alto Rhapsody
Britten – War Requiem
Bruckner – Te Deum, Mass in E minor
Bruk – oratorio Vaeltava laulaja
Charpentier – Stabat Mater
Cherubini – Requiem Mass in D minor
Dvořák – Requiem, Te Deum, Stabat Mater, Mass in D
Elgar – The Dream of Gerontius
Fauré – Requiem
Franck – oratorio Les Béatitudes
Glass – Itaipu (symphonic portrait)
Gounod – oratorio Mors et Vita
Gubaidulina – Oracion para el Era de Acquario, Lauda
Händel – dramatic oratorios Alexander’s Feast and Messiah
Haydn – The Creation, Salve Regina
Holst – The Planets
Honegger – Joan of Arc at the Stake (Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher), Christmas Cantata
Janácek – Glagolitic Mass (Glagolska Mse)
Kagel – St Bach Passion (Nach einer Sankt-Bach-Passion)
Kodaly – Te Deum
Ligeti – Lux Aeterna, Drei Phantasien nach Friedrich Hölderlin
Liszt – Mass for 4 male voices and organ, oratorio Christus, Psalm 13
Mahler – Symphonies Nos 2, 3, 8
Mascagni – opera Cavalleria Rusticana
Mendelssohn – Eliah, Hymn of Praise (Lobgesang)
Messiaen – Cinq Rechants
Mozart – Requiem in D minor, Coronation Mass in C, Mass in C minor
Orff – Carmina Burana (cantiones profanae), Triumph of Aphrodite (Trionfo di Afrodite)
Pärt – Berlin Mass, Te Deum, 7 Magnificat Antiphons, Magnificat
Penderecki – Polish Requiem
Poulenc – Gloria, Stabat Mater
Prokofiev – cantata Alexander Nevsky
Puccini – Messa di Gloria in A
RachmaninoffThe Bells, Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
Ravel – ballet with chorus Daphnis et Chloé
Reger – Psalm 100
Rossini – Stabat Mater
Saint-Saëns – Oratorio de Noël
Schnittke – cantata History of Dr Johann Faust, Requiem
Schönberg – Gurre-Lieder, opera Moses and Aron
Shostakovich – cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin
Schubert – Mass in G, Mass in E-flat
Sibelius – symphonic poem Kullervo
Stravinsky – Requiem Canticles, Introitus, Les Noces, Symphony of Psalms
Sviridov – Spring Cantata
Taneyev – After reading the Psalm, John of Damascus
Tchaikovsky – Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
Theodorakis – Symphony No 7
Tormis – cycles Ingeria Evenings and Latvian Burdon Songs
Vähi – oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel
Vasks – choral poems Fire-Guard and Litene, Dona nobis pacem
Vaughan – cantata Dona nobis pacem
Verdi – Requiem, Four Sacred Pieces
Vivaldi – Gloria, Magnificat
Wagner – opera The Flying Dutchman
Webber – Requiem

Photos for printing

Download: State Choir Latvija (in the church, colour, jpg, 300 dpi, 1.3 MB); State Choir Latvija (outdoors, colour, jpg, 300 dpi, 6.3 MB)

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