The Latvian Radio Choir tend to show up once a year as part of Soundstreams’ concert series. Last night was the first time I have managed to go. It was at Metropolitan United Church and I was up in the balcony. It’s an awesome view and the sound is great but it’s hot! I guess that’s where they put the sinners.
It’s a pretty amazing choir. They seem to cope with just about anything that composers throw at them. If one asked them to bounce up and down on their heads while singing quarter tones I think they’d do just fine. None of the works last night quite asked that of them but it was close on occasions. There was a lot of extended vocal technique and a couple of pieces that used made up language or simply a collection of phonemes, though, to be honest, I can understand that just as well as I understand Latvian.
Pretty much all the works were contemporary or thereabouts. The one big exception was the set of excerpts from Rachmaninov’s Vespers, All Night Vigil which closed out the first half which was very much in that rather dark Orthodox idiom. Of the recent pieces I really enjoyed Gabriel Dharmoo’s Futile Spells; a sort of journey through the extremes of the voice, and Omar Daniel’s moving setting of Marie Under’s Söduri Ema (Soldier’s Mother). Santa Ratniece’s Tibetan inspired Chu Dal was fun too.
I’d go see them again.
Photographer Credit: Claire Harvie