Dace Aperans (Stauvers)
"At times, it seems to me, that nature, poetry, memories and moods reflect a very special inner music. My compositional process is rooted in this inner music’s perception and development."
The composer, organizer of musical events, teacher, conductor, and music reviewer Dace Aperans was born on December 19th, 1953 in Winnipeg, Canada to the family of the well known community affairs organizer, Latvian youth song festival initiator and organizer Mārtiņš Štauvers. At the age of 11 D. Aperans began learning piano, and at the age of 12 she began composing (piano works and songs). D. Aperans began studying composition at McGill University in Montreal in 1972 with professors Charles Palmer, Bruce Mather, and Brian Cherney. In 1976, she graduated from the university with honours, receiving her bachelor’s degree. While studying, the budding composer founded the Montreal Latvian youth choir and worked together with the Montrealas koklētājas–dainotājas. In 1977/78 she attended theory and compositional classes at the Mannes College of Music in New York and at the Fontainebleau School of Music in Paris, where among her teachers were Nadia Boulanger and Louise Talma. From 1978 to 1980, D. Aperāne studied composition at Hunter College in New York and graduated with honours, receiving her master’s degree.
The composer first gained notice in 1976, when her work Illuminations for wind quintet received first place at the Sixth Canadian Latvian Song Festival New Composition Competition. In the following years, D. Aperans’ works were frequently performed in both American and in exile Latvian chamber concerts, as well as song festivals. As of 1989, her music is in the repertoire of many Latvian interpreters. There have been a series of author concerts in Riga and other places in Latvia. The majority of D. Aperans’ works are dominated by a bright or melancholic gentle mood, frequently inspired by Latvian folk songs. Critics have noted her music’s mildly dissonant character. The subsiding outer flow of her large form compositions is often replaced by a heated, intensified expressiveness; the composer herself admits that the works of Pēteris Vasks have influenced her.
D. Aperans is actively involved in the organization of music events. She was the musical director of the Fourth (1982 – Cleveland), Fifth (1985 – Montreal), and Sixth (1987 – Sherbrooke) Latvian Youth Song Festivals. She conducted the combined choir at the First Latvian Youth Song Festival in Montreal (1975), as well as the Latvian Youth Orchestra at the Fourth Youth Song Festival in Cleveland (1982), and the Fifth Latvian Youth Song Festival in Montreal (1985). As of 1985, the composer has been the artistic director of n i n e international Latvian young musician camps-masterclasses in Canada and Latvia. In 2000, she became the director of the World Federation of Free Latvians Music Division, as of 2001, she is the director of the music division of the Latvian Cultural Association TILTS. She was the artistic director of the North American Latvian Organ Days (1991, 1999 and 2005 in New York); as of the beginning of the 80s she has organised concerts, including Latvian composers’ author concerts in many notable New York concert halls – Carnegie Recital Hall and others.
A portrait of D. Aperans was included in the documentary film of director Maruta Jurjāne (1994). Latvian Television has shown performances of D. Aperans’ stage works (the performance of the play Tango Lugano at the Dailes Theatre in 1989, a fragment of the performance of the ballet Edīte (Edith) at the Dailes Theatre in 1995). D. Aperans is regularly involved in writings about music – from the beginning of the 90s, she is a music critic for the newspaper Laiks, and a wide array of her articles about the works of Latvian composers and other themes have been published in the magazine Jaunā Gaita.
Since her youth, D. Aperans has been fond of teaching. While studying in Montreal, she taught music to exile Latvian children in the Catskills (New York, USA) and Sidrabene (Ontario, Canada), and many 2x2 and 3x3 camps. While studying at Hunter College, D. Aperans worked as a music teacher at the Long Island Latvian High School and the Bronx Latvian High School in New York. Later she was a teacher at the Bronx Latvian School (1978–2000), Hunter College (1980–1981), and the Convent of the Sacred Heart School in New York (1982–1984). At this time, D. Aperans teaches music at the OLSS Elementary School in Connecticut, United States (as of 1999), and at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, New York (as of 2002). She also works at the Bedford Presbyterian Church in New York State, where she teaches and conducts the bell choir.
D. Aperans has received a series of awards both for her achievements in composition, as well as her work in cultural affairs. She has been awarded the Prix de La Societe Musique Canadienne (1975), the World Federation of Free Latvians Krišjānis Barons award (for her cantata Balsis [Voices]) and the World Federation of Free Latvians Note of Recognition, and the General Goppers Fund Award (1993), an award from the US organization Opera Works for her cycle Three Songs with Texts by Emily Dickinson and the honorary WFFL diploma (1996), a Note of Recognition from the New York Latvian Lutheran Church, the Jānis Bieriņš Memorial Award (1999), the Three Star Award of Latvia (2001), the Latvian Great Music Award 2015. D. Aperans is a member of the Latvian Composers’ Union, the American Music Center (1990), the Canadian Music Centre (1993), SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) and a member of AKKA (the Latvian Copyright and Communication Consultation Agency – 1995)
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