Wednesday July 3, 2019

Time Event Venue
15:00 – 17:00 Choral Workshop with State Choir LATVIJA Trinity St. Paul’s United Church

Thursday, July 4

Time Event Venue
11:00 Art Exhibit Opening – York Room Hilton Toronto Hotel
12:00 Mitten Exhibit Opening – Simcoe Room Hilton Toronto Hotel
13:00 Opening Ceremonies Hilton Toronto Hotel
15:30 Concert of Sacred Music Trinity St. Paul’s United Church 
19:00 Līgo Concert Bluma Appel
19:00 Theatre “No Saldenās pudeles” Hart House
21:00 “Sveiki Toronto!” Welcome Party with Letts and Raxtu Raxti Hilton Toronto Hotel

Friday, July 5

Time Event Venue
10:00 Children’s Movie Hour Jacob, Mimmi and the talking dogs Hilton Toronto Hotel
10:00 Theatre “No Saldenās pudeles” Hart House
13:00 New Choreography Showcase Bluma Appel
16:00 Orchestral Chamber Music Concert Koerner Hall
19:30 State Choir LATVIJA Concert Koerner Hall
21:00 The Cabaret Hilton Toronto Hotel
21:00 Youth Party “Latvian Legends”
21:00 Film Homo novus

Saturday, July 6

Time Event Venue
15:00 Mass Choir Concert Mattamy Athletic Centre
19:00 Children Festival Ball Hilton Toronto Hotel
21:00 Festival Ball with Penzionari / Raxtu Raxti
Other evening events
Hilton Toronto Hotel
21:30 Film Bille

Sunday, July 7

Time Event Venue
10:00 Church Service Sv. Jāņa baznīcā
13:00 Writers’ Symposium Hilton Toronto Hotel
16:00 Folk Dance Spectacle Mattamy Athletic Centre
21:00 Farewell Dance with TestosterTones / Rumba Quartet Hilton Toronto Hotel

Events for this year’s festival

These are the events we are hosting during the festival.


TDA “Līgo” is one of Latvia’s most-awarded dance groups. The group is led by Jānis Purviņš, an extremely talented and creative individual who has been Artistic and Executive Director for many Song Festivals in Latvia. He is the author of many unique and compelling choreographies. This concert will allow the audience a chance to see new dances and experience the emotional connection Jānis and the group have with Latvian dance.

New Choreography Showcase

The New Choreography Showcase will feature submissions from dance groups from Canada, the U.S.A., Latvia, and elsewhere in Europe. As our country evolves, so do our dances. This showcase will provide an opportunity for the audience to enjoy and support new choreographies and witness the creative process in action. The Latvian dance tradition is alive and well and will be on full display in this Showcase.

Latvian Mitten Exhibition

The oldest Latvian mittens, made using a needle-weaving technique called ‘nalbinding’, go as far back as the 13th century. After the arrival of knitting, mittens were transformed into the multi-coloured jewels we see today.

In the cold Latvian landscape, mittens not only make life bearable; they play important parts in rites of passage such as christenings, weddings and funerals. They reflect our design and colour choices, our knitting skills and regional differences.

This exhibition showcases mittens like those knit by Latvian women throughout the centuries; how wool – straight off the sheep’s back – is transformed into ornate mittens using various implements, vegetable dyes, and charted patterns. The display will include not only ethnographical reproductions of authentic Latvian mittens, but also samples of ways in which contemporary knitters have used the patterns and techniques  for mittens and beaded wrist-warmers to make other objects such as hats, scarves, purses and ornaments.

We hope that this exhibition will encourage the next generation of knitters and fiber artists to carry on and develop our cultural heritage.

Art Exhibition: Carrying Light

The song and dance festivals for Latvians in exile not only bring together Latvian choirs and dance groups, but also unify the art community. They have become a tradition where song and dance are enriched by the creative expressions of the visual arts and we are delighted with the opportunity to bring together artists of Latvian descent in Toronto.

The name of this festival’s exhibit is “Carrying Light” or “Nesot Gaismu”, emphasizing the creative potential in art. Coming from far and near, these artists bring their own vision, skill, and tradition to create a visual experience that displays the diversity and artistic excellence of Latvian artists.

When considering what to name the 2019 exhibit, not only did we think about art in general, but also what art means to Latvians abroad. Light and dark are not polar opposites, but an intertwined dualism inspiring creative play that allows for the generation of art. Regardless of the medium, all artists work with light, consciously or unconsciously, to create art. Light is a symbol of belief, and as a physical force, essential for perception.

This year the organizers of the art exhibition have attracted artists of all ages, especially the younger generation. Their work will be shown alongside the more experienced art professionals and will represent the continuity of Latvian society and culture in the visual arts. In support of the younger generations of Latvian artists, we hope to show that by including them with the more established artists, their work in this exhibit will shine a new light on an ancient culture. It will highlight our rich and enduring traditions within a globalized and multicultural environment. In the future we hope to see these traditions live on in new generations, who will carry their own light in their own way.

The Carrying Light Art Exhibition takes place at Hilton Toronto, 145 Richmond St. W., from July 4 to 7.

Official Opening:  July 4th, 2019, 11:00 am

The State Choir LATVIJA

The acclaimed State Choir LATVIJA, led by Artistic Director and Conductor Māris Sirmais will perform their Canadian début at Koerner Hall on Friday, July 5 at 7:30 pm. The New York Times has characterized the State Choir LATVIJA’s sound as “exquisite, beautiful and magnificent”. Celebrating its 77th season in 2019, the choir is internationally recognized as one of the best in the world, presenting the unique Latvian choral sound to audiences everywhere. This concert will feature works by Arvo Pärt, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Imant Raminsh, Tālivaldis Ķeniņš, Jānis Kalniņš, Pēteris Vasks, Rihards Dubra, Veljo Tormiss, Vaclovas Augustinas, Eleanor Daley, Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen.

This will be the choir’s first performance as part of a tour produced by Laura Adlers (The Adlers Agency) in partnership with the XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Canada (Toronto), Music and Beyond (Ottawa) and the Elora Festival (Elora). This tour is made possible with the support of the Ministry of Culture for Latvia, the LV100 Foundation and the XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Canada, who invited the choir to perform at their festival as part of Latvia’s centennial celebrations.

About the bands

– RAXTU RAXTI –  is a musical ensemble, well known in Latvija and many parts of the world, for their creative contemporary music, embracing the heart and soul of Latvian traditions with today’s modern music technology in an energy-filled professional stage production.

Raxtu Raxti have released 4 CD’s and each year perform a special concert on November 18th, celebrating Latvija’s independence.  Their most recent major event is the dance spectacle “Vēstījums rakstos”, featuring the drum and bagpipe ensemble Auli and over 1000 dancers.

Raxtu Raxti principal members are:

Kristīne Kārkle (vocals, violin, kokle)

Marts Kristiāns Kalniņš (vocals, harmonium, keyboards, oboe)

Kārlis Auzāns (cello, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki)

Edgars Kārklis (vocals, bagpipes, accordion, pipe)

Armands Treilihs (bass)

You can experience Raxtu Raxti at two evening galas: “Sveiki Toronto!” Welcome Party on July 4th in the Hilton and the Festival Ball on July 6th, also at the Hilton.

And for a grand finale, Raxtu Raxti will perform at the Folk Dance Spectacle July 7th in historic Maple Leaf Gardens (today known as the Mattamy Athletic Centre), with over 1200 dancers from around the world.

Artis Orubs (percussion)

– PENZIONARI – live in Toronto but travel across Canada and the US, playing their unique combination of North American rock and roll and Latvian pop and folk songs. Since 2011 they have been livening up Latvian events, inspiring people to get on the dance floor with their music and energy. They can’t wait to celebrate with you next summer in Toronto!  Penzionari are playing July 6th in the Hilton.

TESTOSTERTONES – The TestosterTones has an ever-changing line-up of Toronto musicians with backgrounds in country, rock, bluegrass, and rap. They come together every so often to play some toe tapping tunes. The Latvian Song Festival lineup includes Ingrida, Andris, Allan, Monte, Ivars and special guests.

LETTSLetts is a Latvian folk rock ensemble made up of Andrejs Kulnieks, Viktors Kulnieks, Martins Mateus and Mike Morrow. The youthful band members have been honing their skills over a number of years, folk-rocking to a wide range of danceable modern and classic genres. They have also written and recorded a significant and impressive repertoire of original material. They are often joined onstage and in the studio by various talented musicians they have crossed paths with over the years.  LETTS are playing July 4th at the Welcome Dance. 

The Cabaret

Always a popular event at the Festival, the Cabaret evening will take place on Friday, July 5 at our host hotel, the Hilton Toronto on University Ave, showcasing the best of Latvian popular music.

Beginning with a cocktail hour at 9:00 pm, the main program will start at 10:00 pm so that those attending the State Choir Latvija concert at Koerner Hall will have plenty of time to arrive and settle in to enjoy a completely different musical experience.

Featured artists include Pauls Berkolds from Los Angeles, the Vitols Family and Sandra Ķuze from Toronto, the amazing contemporary folk fusion group “Maldugunis” from Boston, jazz greats – flautist Ilona Kudina from Boston, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Reinis Kravis from Toronto, and many more…

Special tributes will be performed honoring Latvian cultural icons Andris Ritmanis and Alberts Legzdins.

Mass Choir Concert

Always one of the highlights of the Festival, the Mass Choir Concert, more than 700 voices strong, will take place on Saturday, July 6, 15:00 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (Maple Leaf Gardens) and will bring together Latvian choirs from all over world in a program of Latvian choral favorites and newly commissioned works by young Latvian composers from Canada, the USA, Australia and Latvia.

No Saldenās Pudeles (From The Sweet Bottle) 

No Saldenās Pudeles (From The Sweet Bottle) was written in 1901 by one of Latvia’s most notable writers, Rudolfs Blaumanis.

Daugavas Vanagu Teātris Kanādā, will present this writer’s timeless and lighthearted romantic comedy about finding true love during Summer Solstice. The farmstead widow wants her daughter to find a husband. Mother and aunt introduce her daughter Marija to many incompatible suitors. Marija’s response is to serve them bitter wine. Little do they realize, Marija’s heart already belongs to Mārtiņš, one of the farmhands. He believes he’s not of social stature and she’s too shy to admit her love for him. Much comedic angst happens amongst the farm hands, as they fear new modern equipment will replace their jobs and believe Mārtiņš is to blame. Love prevails and Mārtiņš is served From The Sweet Bottle.

Folk Dance Spectacle

The legacy of Latvian folk dancing, on display this coming Song and Dance Festival, is a reflection of choreographies from our past alongside modern-day interpretations.

The program incorporates older dances such as “Ačkups” and “Sešdancis”, newer dances “Sēju Vēju”, “Salti Vēji Pūta” and some of our most cherished dances like “Audēju deja” and “Kurzemnieku Pērkoņdancis”.

Dances will be accompanied by the folklore musical group Raxtu Raxti.

This event is drawing participation from Latvian folk dance groups around the world.  Watch performers from Latvija, United States, Europe, Australia and Canada. Compared to our last song festival in Canada, this year’s event has more than double the participants!

This summer you’ll experience the Latvian spirit, friendship and joy of dance at the Folk Dance Spectacle in Toronto, Canada.

The Concert of Sacred Music

The Concert of Sacred Music, on Thursday, July 4 at 3:30 pm at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, will feature performances by the State Choir Latvija, the festival choir, chamber orchestra, and soprano Ilze Paegle, all led by conductors Maris Sirmais and Brigita Alks.

Featured repertoire will include Imant Raminsh’ stunning Ave Verum Corpus and Ubi Caritas, and the North American premiere of the Missa Brevis Latviensis by Toronto composer George Juris Kenins. This work, commissioned by the State Choir Latvija in 2017, was first performed by them in Riga, Latvia on August 22, 2017 to great critical acclaim. Dedicated to, and inspired by, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is a significant addition to the catalogue of Canadian sacred choral music. Both of these works will be performed by the State Choir Latvija

Other Latvian-Canadian composers on the program include Talivaldis Kenins, Arvids Purvs and Erika Yost, as well as works by Brigita Ritmanis, Adolfs Abele, Viktors Baštiks, Andrejs Jurjans, Alfreds Kalnins and Ēriks Ešenvalds.

The Concert of Orchestral and Chamber Music

The Concert of Orchestral and Chamber Music on Friday, July 5 at Koerner Hall is presented in partnership with the Toronto Latvian Concert Association and will serve as a launch event for a new Centrediscs recording of music by Latvian-Canadian composers Jānis Kalniņš, Tālivaldis Ķeniņš and Imant Raminsh. Featured artists on the recording and in the concert will be conductor Māris Sirmais, violinist Laura Zariņa, pianist Arthur Ozolins, and members of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

The concert will feature the recently recovered and restored Violin Concerto in F# Minor by Kalniņš, Scherzo concertante by Tālivaldis Ķeniņš, Aria for violin and piano by Imant Raminsh, Overture to Light by Lolita Ritmanis and chamber music performed by additional guest artists flautist Agita Arista, cellist Jānis Laurs, pianist Ruta Vaivade and soprano Ilze Paegle.