On Friday, November 12, the Latvian National Choir, known at home as the State Choir "Latvija," made its U.S. debut with an hour-length recital as part of Lincoln Center's inaugural White Light Festival. Led by the towering presence of Estonian conductor, Tõnu Kaljuste, the evening presented an at turns, pacific, threatening and charming spin on the festival's theme of spirituality and reflection.
You can hear the entire concert above or excerpts below, or (re)experience the evening with the entire Q2 family of listeners during featured Web casts tonight, Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m. EST, or as part of a special Cued Up on Q2 Sunday, November 21 at 2 p.m. alongside the American choral premiere of David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion recorded live last November in the Greene Space at WQXR.
This program, entitled Late Night Elegy: Baltic Dreams, opened with Swiss composer Frank Martin's Mass, a piece which progresses with startling stylistic leaps from movement to movement, before settling into Arvo Pärt's serene Dopo la Vittoria (After the Victory). The piece which most transfixed the audience however was by Pärt's compatriot Veljo Tormis, a composer estmeed highly in Estonia but lesser-known in the U.S. His Raua Needmine (Curse Upon Iron) included shouts and ominous whispers through clenched teeth from the choir and soloists while their conductor circled, stomped and pounded time on a large drum. The evening concluded with a tender Latvian lullaby where the choir took positions spread through the Penthouse and then slowly excited, with Mr. Kaljuste, eyes agleam, watching from the wings.
Frank Martin's Mass
Arvo Pärt's Dopo la Vittoria (After the Victory)
Veljo Tormis's Raua Needmine (Curse Upon Iron)
Traditional Latvian Put, Vejioi (Blow, Wind, Blow)