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Atis Stepiņš

(19.05.1958 - 20.10.2013 )

“Improvisation and composition are deeply related. I am a church organist, and I believe, that there is nowhere else that you can learn to sing with an instrument as playing together with a congregation. Showing at times initiative, at times delicacy. That is a relative question that allows liturgical improvisation to view creation. Give a person a cantus firmus assignment, make it played with different rhythm formulas, both tonal and breaking up the tonal base, and you will find a capable player. I think that this improvisation has not been given the proper place yet.”
Atis Stepiņš

The composer’s views on art are for the most part stimulated by playing the piano, which is where Atis Stepiņš gained his initial professional education. A rich palette of timbres, singing – these spheres of pianism often are combined with improvisation. Improvisation on the organ, an engrossing part of his concerts, has become the most vital.

Atis Stepiņš was born on May 19th, 1958 in Liepāja (his sister is the cellist Agne Stepiņa). From 1977 to 1987, he gained his diploma from the Latvian State Conservatory in many music specialties: piano playing (Konstantīns Blūmentāls), organ playing (Pēteris Sīpolnieks, both in 1982), composition (Ādolfs Skulte, 1987). As of 1989, he is a teacher at the Latvian State Conservatory/Latvian Academy of Music in general piano playing and organ improvisation, and as of 1990, he is the organist at the St. Pavil’s Lutheran Church. Atis Stepiņš’s work as a performing organist includes many notable influences. He is close to J. S. Bach. In contemporary music interpretation and organ improvisation, the Dutch organists Piet Kee and Jan Raas, the Hungarian organist Zsigmond Szathmáry, the Austrian Hans Haselböck, the Swedish musician Anders Bondeman, supplement him. He has participated in the Harlem summer organ academy in Holland (1990, 1992) and in many international organ competitions: award winner in 1990 in Speier, Germany, a laureate at the Vincenzo Petrali organ competition in Ragusa (Sicily, Italy).

Atis Stepiņš premiered the new organ at the Berlin College of Arts (now the University of Arts and played in the festival of the Kazan’ organ opening (1997), he also was on the international jury for the organ competition. In the autumn of 2002, he participated in the Latvian organ music week in Ottawa, Canada, where he performed part of the program together with the saxophonist Artis Gāga.

Lolita Fūrmane Photo - Edmunds Mickus © LMIC

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