Atvars Lakstīgala made his conducting debut in 2009 with the Latvian National Opera’s production of La Traviata. He is currently the chief conductor of the Operetta Theatre founded by the Latvian Operetta Foundation and the director of the Ogre Music School; he also continues working with the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian National Opera and the Orchestra “Riga”.
Lakstīgala was the principal conductor and artistic director of the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra from 2010 to 2017. He focused in particular on the promotion of Latvian music, realising the monumental Liepāja Concerti series from 2011 to 2017, which featured the premiere performances of twelve new compositions composed by Platons Buravickis, Rihards Dubra, Andris Dzenītis, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Juris Karlsons, Kārlis Lācis, Arturs Maskats, Kristaps Pētersons, Santa Ratniece, Vilnis Šmīdbergs, Andris Vecumnieks and Rihards Zaļupe.
Lakstīgala has performed with the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra throughout Latvia as well as on tour in China, India, Japan, Greece and Azerbaijan. His collaboration with this orchestra has been documented on albums released by the Latvian record label Skani as well as Ondine, Wergo and Odradek Records – in repertoire by Latvian composers (Imants Kalniņš, Rihards Dubra, Lūcija Garūta, Pēteris Vasks, the Liepāja Concerti series) and foreign composers (Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók, Ernst Křenek, etc.).
With the Latvian National Opera, Lakstīgala staged the opera Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess by Kristaps Pētersons and Three Meetings, a ballet with music by Rihards Dubra, Georgs Pelēcis and Pēteris Vasks. In 2015, he enjoyed great success conducting Arvīds Žilinskis’ opera The Golden Horse at the Sigulda Opera Festival. He has also conducted operas by Verdi, Puccini, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev and ballets at the Latvian National Opera.
In 2010, Lakstīgala received the Latvian Grand Music Award for best debut for his performances with the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. Pētersons’ opera Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess under the direction of Lakstīgala won the Latvian Grand Music Award in 2014 for best performance of the year, and his work with the opening concert of the 25th Liepāja International Stars Festival (featuring soloists Iveta Apkalna, Dita Krenberga and Reinis Zariņš) won the Latvian Grand Music Award in 2017 for best performance of the year. In 2019, the performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 by pianist Vestards Šimkus and the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lakstīgala was nominated for the Latvian Grand Music Award in the outstanding interpretation category.
Lakstīgala has also conducted the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Bari, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, the Milli Reasürans Chamber Orchestra in Istanbul, the Philharmonie Südwestfalen in Germany and the Kammerphilharmonie Graubünden in Switzerland as well as performances by the Scottish Ballet.
Lakstīgala studied at the Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK-Berlin) under professor and conductor Lutz Köhler and at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, where he graduated from the French horn class led by Prof. Arvīds Klišāns, the wind orchestra conducting class led by Prof. Jānis Puriņš and the symphonic orchestra conducting class led by Prof. Imants Resnis. He further improved his mastery at conducting in masterclasses with Vassily Sinaisky, Leonid Grin, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Heinrich Schiff and other distinguished teachers.
Lakstīgala played French horn professionally from 1997 until 2010, serving as the assistant principal of the French horn group of the Latvian National Opera Orchestra from 2001 until 2010.