“This chorus’s expertise in music pushes voices to extremes, from ethereal high tones to uncannily sustained bass drones.”
“One of the world’s greatest choirs.”
“A great musical power.”
he Latvian Radio Choir ir a unique, award-winning collective of professional singers that offers an extraordinarily wide repertoire to its audience, allowing the exploration of early music and the gallantry of classicism, balancing in the sea of romantics’ overflowing emotions, and excitedly diving into contemporary composers’ musical calembours.
The Latvian Radio Choir has participated in the recording of the album of Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament that received the prestigious Grammy music award. The choir is a repeat winner of the highest national award for achievements in professional music in Latvia – the Grand Music Award, as well as the winner of the Republic of Latvia Cabinet of Ministers Award. The British magazine Gramophone named the choir’s recording of Sergey Rachmaninoff’s Vespers its Recording of the Month in February 2013 and the American radio station NRP put the recording on its Top 25 Albums of the Year list. The choir’s album with Peter Tchaikovsky’s music Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Nine Sacred Choruses (Ondine) won the 2020 International Classical Music Award as the best choral work and was also nominated for the BBC Music Magazine award.
The choir started the season of 2021/2022 with the music programme of Pēteris Vasks and the like-minded, as well as performing the Latvian classic Jānis Ivanovs’ Vocalizations after collaborating with composer Imants Zemzaris and pianist Reinis Zariņš to research Ivanovs’s manuscripts, sonic palette, and the tradition of interpretation.
Performing ten concerts in the Netherlands and Belgium, the choir offered experiencing Latvian contemporary choir music, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy; during the tour they also let the Dutch discover what a choir sounds like in their newly opened Amare concert hall in the Hague; the concert was broadcast live on the EBU broadcasting network in many parts of Europe. The Latvian Radio Choir was met with standing ovation in the still-new International Central- and Eastern-European Music Festival Euphonia, which took place in Warsaw, and received the same reaction in Latvia after performing a commemorative concert for composer Mārtiņš Brauns on the day of the country's renewed independence.
In the spring of 2022, a new Latvian music programme was premiered, accompanying the exhibition of crowns made by Edīte Pauls-Vīgnere in a monolithic performance, and the choir’s Easter was spent with the newest choral music by Pēteris Vasks, Giya Kancheli and the Ukrainian master Valentyn Sylvestrov.
Later on in the year in the autumn of 2022, the Latvian Radio Choir embarked on a tour in Japan, performing multiple a capella concerts, and after returning to Riga, premiered Georgs Pelēcis’s Requiem. To close the year, they performed the Latvian Radio Choir Jubilee Mass - a celebratory work consisting of six parts each written by a different composer. Alongside pre-existing pieces by Pēteris Vasks, Arturs Maskats and Andrejs Selickis, the choir premiered works by Andris Dzenītis, Ēriks Ešenvalds, and Juris Karlsons.
February 2023 saw the Latvian Radio Choir perform an a cappella solo concert in the Brussels art centre Bozar, while in June they performed alongside a saxophone quartet (Oskars Petrauskis, Ainars Šablovskis, Aigars Raumanis, Rūdolfs P. Rubenis) in the festival Musikfest Stuttgart organized by the Stuttgart International Bach Academy.
The Latvian Radio Choir has been a guest in the most prominent European concert venues, including the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Cité de la Musique in Paris. The choir has collaborated with the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, it has performed at the Duke University Chapel, the US Library of Congress, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Berlin Concert Hall, and the Church of Our Lady in Dresden, Germany, and has become the first vocal collective to perform at the new Hague concert venue Amere.
The choir has been a guest at several prestigious music festivals, including the BBC Proms, the Salzburg festival, the new music festival Klangspuren, the Lucerne Festival, the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier, the Musikfest Erzgebirge of Dresden and Klangvokal in Dortmund, the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, OzAsia Festival in Australia and the Spring Arts Festival in Monte Carlo. The choir earned a lot of acclaim in North America, participating in the White Light Festival in the U.S. and Soundstreams in Canada.
In 2019, the Latvian Radio Choir toured Japan and China: two specially developed concert programmes were performed in Shanghai in October, while in mid-November, the choir opera NEOARCTIC saw its premiere in Hong Kong.
The Latvian Radio Choir is like a laboratory of creative discovery in the hands of young composers, encouraging them to feel and explore the boundaries of classical vocal singing. During the past twenty years, this musical unit has created a previously unseen understanding of the choir as a multi-layered instrument, in which the unique, characteristic sonic whole of the Latvian Radio Choir is created by the important task of each individual and the unique palette of timbres.
Ondine, Hyperion Records, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM, BIS, Naïve, Prima Classica and Skani recording labels regularly produce new Latvian Radio Choir albums, in collaboration with such great conductors as Heinz Holliger, Riccardo Muti, Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Peter Phillips.
The choir has worked with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Contrechamps, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, and Concerto Copenhagen.
The Latvian Radio Choir was founded in 1940 by the legendary Latvian conductor Teodors Kalniņš, who led it until his death in 1962. From 1963 to 1986, the artistic director of the choir was Edgars Račevskis, and after his tight grip on the choir, conductor Juris Kļaviņš became the leader from 1987 to 1992. Since 1992, the Latvian Radio Choir has been led by the artistic director and principal conductor Sigvards Kļava and conductor Kaspars Putniņš.