“I write music that is better than I am. I only write it down if I am unable to free myself from the sounds. That is something unique to me – that is why I am in awe of this work.”
The composer and organist Aivars Kalējs was born on April 22nd, 1951 in Riga to a family of artists. From 1958 to 1969, he studied at the Emīls Dārziņš College of Music in the choir and special music theory class, studying composition with Ģederts Ramans. From the age of 7 until 13, he sang in the College boys’ choir. At the age of 18, he began to play the organ. In 1969, he entered the Latvian State Conservatory. He graduated the composition class of Ādolfs Skulte (1974), and the organ class of Nikolajs Vanadziņš (1977). Studying at the Latvian State Conservatory, he was one of the last, who studied special harmony and polyphony with Lūcija Garūta.
He has participated in masterclasses given by organists Ewald Koimann and Leo Kremer. He has given concerts in almost all of the countries in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan. He has participated in international organ music festivals in Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Spain and the United States, as well as the Echternach music festival in Luxembourg. In 1998, joining the orchestra Kremerata Baltica, he performed in the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Russia. He has performed together with Kristina Stobaeus (Sweden), Lina Mkrtchyan, Oleg Rjabec, Ruslan Javajev (Russia), Alise Zinovjeva (Latvia/Italy), Inessa Galante, Ingus Pētersons, Jānis Sproģis, Dita Krenberga, Arvīds Klišāns, Uldis Urbāns. He was the concert master of the Leonīds Vīgners chamber choir and the choir Mūza, he has worked together with the women’s choir Dzintars, the chamber choir Ave Sol, the chamber choirs Sacrum and the Latvian Radio Choir. He led the vocal ensemble Dardedze (1971–1991). He has performed in the Latvian Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra, directed by Tovijs Lifšics, and the Andris Veismanis Chamber Orchestra. From 1980 to 1985, he worked on the monument board at the Latvian Ministry of Culture’s, focusing on research of the organs of Latvian churches, and accomplishing the addition of 250 organs to the index of protected cultural monuments.
Aivars Kalējs’ writings about organ history can be read in music lexicons and periodicals. He has played at church services at the Riga Cross Congregation. He is one of the concert organists at the Riga Dome Cathedral, is an organist at the New. St. Gertrude Church (as of 1989) and is the organist for the Riga Dome Boys’ Choir. His works have won awards at the competition Sinfonia Baltica competition (2004), the chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica new work competition (2003), the organ work competition Sibīrijas bērni (2002), and the song competition Es dziedu par Latvijas mežiem (2004). He has received the AKKA/LAA Copyright's Infinity Award (2004).
Mārīte Dombrovska © LMIC