Farewell to Latvia… for now

This will probably be my last post of this blog, as I’m now back in Toronto, and my year in Latvia is over. The concert in Riga, June 9th, was a wonderful end to the year. Putni Vocal Ensemble performed my song cycle “Sava vieta uz zemes,” 6 songs to poetry of Fricis Bārda, in the world premiere performance. The concert was held in the lovely “Creative Gallery-Café Sukubs,” not far from Mežaparks. Actor Ēriks Vilsons, cellist Agate Ozoliņa and pianist Līga Kārkliņa also took part in the evening of poetry and music.

I was thrilled at how many of our relatives and friends showed up for the concert. I feel quite overwhelmed at the outpouring of interest and support. One guest in particular was very special. On the tram a few days before the concert, I thought I recognized someone from my past. I got up the nerve to speak to her and sure enough, it was Lalita Muižniece from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Lalita was my very first teacher at the summer immersion course where I originally learned my basic Latvian grammar and vocabulary back in 1986. It was so nice to reconnect with her after all these years. Probably it was nice for her also to see that some of her students do continue to study and build upon what she taught them. Here we are after the concert, while Andris’s relatives Ina and Andris Sproģis wait to say hello.


The final week in Latvia was very busy. I helped sound engineer Tālis Timrots to edit my three Winter Solstice songs that Putni had recorded in May. I had a last meeting with professor Mence and heard much of the student composers examination concert. Here we are together in the foyer of JVLMA.

with SM

When will I return to Latvia? I really don’t know at this point. My breathing is still poor, and so I am not planning to venture more than a few hours away from Toronto until my condition is at least better understood by doctors. We recently learned quite definitively that the current lung obstruction issue is not asthma per se. Rather, it is probably some type of complex bacterial/fungal/myco-plasma infection. I have appointments with 3 different specialists over the next few weeks, and am hopeful that they will find a way to cure it or at least manage it better. Who knows, it’s possible I might end up breathing better than I have in decades. Always look at the bright side!

All in all it was an amazing year. My two main goals of advancing my composition skills and activity, and improving my Latvian fluency were reached or even surpassed. I also learned a lot about myself this year. I like to spend time alone, but there is a definite time limit on that. Latvia is interesting and fun to visit but my real home is multicultural Toronto. I consider myself an environmentally aware “green” person, but my expression of that awareness and my “green” activities do not usually look like this typical Latvian scene from Saiets Trejdeviņi last summer:


Yep, Latvians are “green” in a whole different way. They have a wonderful, intimate and spiritual relationship with nature. Latvia also has great food and a musical culture where singing is everywhere. I’m starting to miss it already, and I sincerely hope to return there by next summer, to sing in the 2018 song festival as part of the Canadian-Latvian choir.

3 thoughts on “Farewell to Latvia… for now

  1. You had an amazing year in Latvia. You created wonderfully and intricately nuanced music for your “adopted” choir Putni. Your Latvian language vocabulary and facility, which was already quite impressive, continued to improve in leaps and bounds. You forged new Transatlantic friendships. It was a thrill to watch it evolve, both via your insightful blogs, as well as in person, on my visits to Latvia. I am so very proud of you for doing something so very dauntingly challenging!
    PS I liked your green ending….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have so enjoyed reading about your experiences Erika. It was really interesting and fun. Good for you, for seizing the opportunity and for learning so much more about music, your fatherland, and yourself! My suggestion for us is that you bring those 1000 pictures and give us a show at the cottage – we are there for the summer and would really enjoy a visit! Welcome home!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Erika

    Good to see you are back, but sorry to hear about your health issues. Hope and pray you get your diagnosis sorted out and a cure identified. Take care.


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s