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“If you have one apple and I have one apple, and we swap apples, then each of us has one apple. But if you have a song and I have a song, and we swap songs, then we each have two songs. Let us share and multiply!” Invites Helmī Stalte, the founder of Skandinieki. Several generations have passed since the group was founded, but its mission has remained the same. At their concerts, Skandinieki create a family-like atmosphere and invite audiences to experience the power of Latvian and Livonian folklore. With a vocal-instrumental repertoire (including kokles, drums and violins), the group performs arrangements of songs from both of Latvia’s historical core ethnic groups. Over its almost fifty years of existence, Skandinieki have changed sonically beyond recognition, but the group’s characteristic style of singing, which exudes strength and pride, is clearly recognisable on the Latvian traditional music scene.

Skandinieki’s current artistic director is Julgī Stalte, the daughter of Helmī and Dainis Stalts, the legendary founders of Latvia’s folklore movement. The ensemble was founded in 1976, and nowadays, the Stalts’ grandchildren – now already adults themselves – are active in the group.

Initially, Skandinieki learned songs directly from traditional singers and gave concerts throughout Latvia, thus bringing folklore and its potential as a positive force in people’s everyday lives to the fore and, often, simply introducing to people to their own folklore. Inspired by the example Skandinieki set and the call they made, many people established folklore groups of their own in Latvia and in the diaspora. Several original members of Skandinieki are today important traditional-culture specialists, educators and musicians, including ethnomusicologist Valdis Muktupāvels, Velta Leja (of the group Dimzēns) and Ilga Reizniece (of Iļģi). Skandinieki were also instrumental participants in the first editions of the Baltica International Folklore Festival. The work of Skandinieki and its directors has been appreciated worldwide and has earned the highest European award for folk art as well as the highest Latvian and Estonian state awards.

                                                                                                                                    Lauma Bērza, 2022