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Song and Dance Festival 2018 promises to be especially colourful and magnificent

21.11.2017

XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Festival will take place in the atmosphere of the centenary anniversary of the State of Latvia, bringing together more than 40,000 participants.

The festival will be organised from 30 June until 8 July. The programme includes 54 different events whereof a large part will take place in gardens and parks, thereby giving an opportunity both to local people and guests to vividly feel the festive atmosphere.

In contrast to the experience of the Song and Dance Festival of the previous years, this time the long-awaited event will begin with a colourful parade of festival participants in the centre of Riga, followed by the opening event of the festival for participants during which chief conductors and dance group leaders will be honoured.

Singers, dancers, and orchestra musicians participating in the parade will be wearing traditional costumes characteristic to specific regions of the state, thereby feeling happy and satisfied themselves and spreading this atmosphere to those attending the parade.

The central events of the festival include the dance concert “Vēl simts gadu dejai”, a concert of vocal and symphonic music, grand performance of dance “Māras zeme” and closing concert “Zvaigžņu ceļā”.

The concert “Vēl simts gadu dejai” will be organised at Arēna Riga on 2 July. The performance is divided in four parts or seasons. The performance includes 30 dances which cover the masterpieces of 17 Latvian choreographers from classical up to contemporary dance.

Compositions have been selected so that dancers of various age groups, thus, children and seniors’ ensembles, would be able to perform. It is planned that around 3000 dancers will take part in the concert.

The grand concert of brass bands, which will be comprised of seven parts, will take place at Esplanāde in the centre of Riga on 6 July. This event will be a dedication to each region of Latvia, Riga and suburbs of Riga. Original works and adaptations of Latvian composers are included in the programme. Since 2003, when the tradition of the grand concert of brass bands was started, this event has been surprising the audience with new means of expression and growing proficiency.

The grand dance concert “Māras zeme” will take place at Daugava Stadium on 5 July (main rehearsal), 6 July, and 7 July. The main motive of the concert is the formation of Latvia, discovering the roots of the Latvian culture and traditions, the course of maturity of the Latvian identity, significant historical facts which laid the foundations for the State of Latvia.

The main message of the performance is intended as reconstruction of the formation of the nation — to depict the long history of Latvians as a nation in 28 dances through movement and folk dance, through the ornament created in the field, music, energy, rhythm, and colour.

Overall 789 ensembles will participate in the concert and this is a record high number of participants.

The closing concert “Zvaigžņu ceļš” will be organised at the Grand Stage of Mežaparks on 7 July (main rehearsal) and 8 July. The festival choir, brass bands, dancers, musicians, and soloists will participate in the closing concert. The concert programme is composed of 38 choir songs (including four new compositions) and four compositions for the brass bands.

The closing concert will be opened by brass bands which will be positioned in the entire territory of Mežaparks open-air stage. The concert will be started by male voice choirs afterwards changed by female voice choirs. The festival choir will come to the stage at the third part of the concert. The choir of Latvian choir conductors will perform at the closing concert of the Song and Dance Festival for the first time in the history.

Traditionally, the grand singing of choirs following the closing concert will be organised also this year. A special part in this event is dedicated to the “Latvian golden collection” — singing four-part choral adaptations of the most popular folk songs.

The first Latvian Song Festival took place in 1873. Nowadays the grand festival, also finding an equivalent place for folk dance, is organised every five years. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.