Latvian Radio Choir

Latvian Radio Choir

Chamber Radio Choir

• Founded 1940

Biography

The Latvian Radio Choir specializes in contemporary choral music from the Baltic countries and Russia. The group has gained wide recognition not only in eastern Europe but around the West, and it has a large and varied catalog of recordings that have appeared on several major international labels.

The Latvian Radio Choir is the house chorus of Latvia's national radio network. It was founded in 1940 by conductor Teodors Kalnins when Latvia faced incorporation into the Soviet Union. The choir survived World War II and was led by Kalnins until he died in 1962. He was succeeded by Edgars Racevskis from 1963 until 1986, and in turn, by Juris Klavins from 1987 to 1992. Since that year, the Latvian Radio Choir has had dual leadership, with artistic director Sigvards Klava and conductor Kaspars Putnins sharing the baton. The choir has a core membership of 25 singers but contracts for performances of early music and expands to a group of dozens of singers for extended choral-orchestral works. The Latvian Radio Choir gives some 60 concerts annually, both in Latvia and abroad. Its repertory runs from the Renaissance to the contemporary era, with an emphasis on music by Baltic composers, including, often, Latvia's Peteris Vasks. Core Russian works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov figure heavily in the choir's repertory, as does the music of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. The choir proclaims that it is "like a creative laboratory; it regularly encourages composers to write music that extends beyond the boundaries of classical vocals."

The recording catalog of the Latvian Radio Choir is especially impressive, dating back to the early days of Latvian independence and encompassing major western European labels such as Hyperion, BIS, and ECM. Since a 2007 recording of Vasks' Pater Noster, the choir has generally been associated with the Ondine label, where it released a recording of Tchaikovsky's All-Night Vigil in 2020. The choir's recordings number more than 40, with the pace accelerating considerably in the 2010s.

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