2018.06.30 Aurora Folk Group in Latvia News Banner

Today is a big day for song ... Fanfares will play! And our own Aurora Folk Group will play in Latvia. Yes, at the Aurora, we are more than just an opera house, or rather, quite a different opera house than what you may find in other European Capitals. We don’t have our resident orchestra. We don’t have our resident ballet troupe, but wait for it… we have our own folk group – a proper cultural ambassador around the world. And their next destination is… Latvia!

Posted: 30th June 2018

Aurora Folk Group in Latvia 

Even through the most difficult periods of history, the Latvian people have come together, united in their joy of music, song, and dance. 2018 is a special year for both the residents of Latvia and for Latvians throughout the world—one hundred years have passed since Latvia was proclaimed an independent Republic. The Centenary programme spans almost five years from May 2017 to January 2021. The Centenary events have been planned so as to give everyone the opportunity to play an active role, bringing the celebration close to everyone who feels a sense of belonging to Latvia. The main message of the Centenary celebrations is ‘I AM LATVIA’, with the attendant message ‘I CREATE LATVIA’ integrating the theme of participation. One of the main events of the Latvian Centenary will be the XXVI Song and XVI Dance Celebration.

The Celebration has become an event of national and international importance, bringing together people of different generations and nationalities, and uniting Latvians throughout the world. From the first Celebration in 1873 where 1000 singers participated, the celebrations have evolved into a powerful movement—around 40 000 participants from 3421 amateur ensembles are preparing to participate in the XXVI Song and XVI Dance Celebration.

In order for 12 000 singers and 17 000 dancers, and thousands of musicians, masters of folk and applied arts, as well as folklore and amateur theatre ensembles can participate in the Celebration, effort is systematically invested on a daily basis for five years—rehearsals, continuous revisions to the repertoire, recitals, contests, exhibitions, seminars, and concerts. And then, every five years, all of these artists and musicians from Latvia’s towns and rural territories flow into Riga, creating a powerful grassroots movement.

The XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration will take place in Riga from 30 June to 8 July 2018 in the spirit of the Latvian Centenary. During Celebration week, Riga will host 43,000 participants from 118 Latvian municipalities, and from many other countries where Latvians continue to uphold and develop the traditions of the Song and Dance Celebration, including the Aurora Folk Group as the sole representative of Malta. For seven days they will take part in more than 65 events. 500 000 celebration-goers (roughly ¼ of the Latvian population—1,96 million) will be able to attend (ticketed and free) events.

The Main Events

The XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration will open on 1 July 2018 with the traditional sacred music concert at the Riga Cathedral, followed by the Celebration Procession throughout the streets of Riga. Participants showing off their rich folk costumes will walk a route that takes several hours through the streets of Riga. The procession will conclude with a special opening event dedicated to the participants.

The most anticipated events are the great dance performance Māra's Country and the closing concert “Following the Starry Path”. Approximately 17,000 dancers in the Daugava Stadium will tell the rich history of Latvia through music, energy, movement, rhythm, color, and the patterns created by the steps of their folk dances.

Celebration week culminates in the closing concert “Following the Starry Path”, in which the voices of 12,000 singers on the Mežaparks Open-air Stage will enchant their listeners in three-hour concert of the most outstanding Latvian professional choral music. As the prepared concert ends, audience members will be invited to add their voices, and the Nighttime Sing-along will continue until sunrise.

The Aurora Folk Group contingent, comprising 30 persons, depart to Riga on Sunday 1 July and are due to return to Malta on Sunday 8 July. Join us in wishing them the best of luck.