Latvian Radio Choir
Critics have recognised the Latvian Radio Choir as one of the very best choirs in the world. It is an ensemble of professional singers that, with equal parts conviction and inspiration, performs an extraordinary variety of repertoire ranging from early music to the most sophisticated of contemporary compositions.
Of particular significance is the choir’s work in the promotion of Latvian classical and contemporary music. For Latvian composers, the choir has often served as a creative lab and invaluable partner in the search for new technical and acoustic solutions. As it constantly strives to diversify and almost endlessly expand the possibilities of its singers’ voices, the choir has developed its own unique sound. Collaborations between Latvian composers and the Latvian Radio Choir have resulted in several very significant, internationally recognised works. For example, already in the mid-1990s Maija Einfelde’s oratorio At the Edge of the Earth... won the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, while works composed specially for the Latvian Radio Choir by Santa Ratniece, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Mārtiņš Viļums, Kristaps Pētersons and Pēteris Butāns have been selected by the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in both the general and young composer categories.
The choir received its first Latvian Grand Music Award in 1994 and, as of 2020, has already won the award seven times. The choir has also received the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers Award.
The Latvian Radio Choir participated in the recording of the Grammy Award-winning album Adam’s Lament (ECM), with music composed by Arvo Pärt and conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste. Its recording of Sergei Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil (Ondine) was praised by Gramophone magazine as a Best Recording of the Month and ranked among the 25 best albums of the year by the American radio station NPR.
Latvian Radio Choir recordings of classical and contemporary music have been released by the Ondine, Hyperion Records, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM, BIS and Naïve labels. The choir also regularly collaborates with the Latvian national record label Skani. In fact, its album The Fruit of Silence was the first album released by Skani. In addition to its own conductors, Sigvards Kļava and Kaspars Putniņš, the choir has also recorded albums with conductors Heinz Holliger, Riccardo Muti, Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Peter Phillips.
In 2003, the Latvian Radio Choir together with three other top European choirs founded the Tenso European network for professional chamber choirs to promote the creation of new, innovative repertoire and seek new ways of performing it.
The Latvian Radio Choir has partnered with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg and Concerto Copenhagen. It has performed at many of the world’s most renowned concert halls, including the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and the Philharmonie in Paris, Lincoln Center in New York City, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Konzerthaus Berlin, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Dresden Frauenkirche.
The Latvian Radio Choir has appeared at leading musical events around the world, including the BBC Proms, the Salzburg Festival, Klangspuren in Vienna, the Lucerne Festival, the Festival Radio France in Montpellier, the Baltic Sea Festival in Sweden, Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, the White Light Festival in the United States, Musikfest Erzgebirge in Dresden, Klangvokal in Dortmund, the OzAsia Festival in Australia and Soundstreams in Canada. In 2019, the choir toured Japan and China, performing two specially prepared programmes in Shanghai in October and premiering the NeoArctic choral opera in Hong Kong in mid-November.
The Latvian Radio Choir was founded in 1940 by the legendary conductor Teodors Kalniņš, who led the ensemble until he passed away in 1962. Edgars Račevskis served as the choir’s artistic director from 1963 until 1986, and Juris Kļaviņš led the choir from 1987 until 1992. Since 1992, the choir has been led jointly by artistic director and principal conductor Sigvards Kļava and conductor Kaspars Putniņš.