Review of 2006 Activities

School Improvement Project

Under the leadership of Pēteris Zariņš and Edīte Irbe, with the assistance of Arnis Sprancmanis as the project’s treasurer, and with your contributions and help, we are continuing to provide computers and educational materials to schools in Latvia.

In 2006 the school improvement project received $4,400 in donations. It has awarded a total of $5,800 for the support of Menģeles School (Ogre Region), Virgas School (Liepāja Region), Skujenes School (Cēsis Region) and Pilskalnes School (Aizkraukle Region). We shipped to the Strazdmuižas School for the Blind five Braille printers.

In 1934 the President of Latvia Kārlis Ulmanis gave a now famous speech urging the population to give books to the local schools. “Latvia belongs to our youth, they are as good and often better than we, our job is to show them the way,” said the President. What followed was a major institution in Latvia, whereby every January people were requested to donate books to their schools.

Let us follow this old Latvian tradition! The youth of today’s Latvia will determine the future of the country. Let us help them prepare for the future.

We again encourage you to send a donation to a school in Latvia through TILTS. Choose a school that has a special significance to you – maybe the school you or your parents or grandparents attended. We will determine the school’s needs, take care of all formalities and use your contribution according to your instructions.

The funding allocated by the Latvian government and local municipalities does not meet all needs of the schools, and lately there has been a specific need for books. The schools need also funds for student activities and cultural events. Since schools in Latvia are small in relation to the size of schools in America, a relatively modest contribution can provide a significant impact on the school’s budget.

Alternatively, add $50 (or more) to your annual TILTS contribution for our general school support budget. Donations in USA are tax-deductible. We will let you know how your gift was used. If you would like to contribute, please contact

Pēteris Zariņš
at paz@twcny.rr.com
Tel. (315) 682-5615,
Fax (315) 682-1772

During the lifetime of this program, TILTS has supplied over 500 computers and other teaching materials to over 100 schools in Latvia and six computers to Latvian schools in Siberia.

Classical Music

  • The women’s vocal group PUTNI from Latvia gave 15 concerts in nine cities, starting with Boston on October 27 and ending with a concert in Yonkers as part of the celebration of the Latvian Independence Day on November 18. The group consists of eight singers. At the concert in Boston, PUTNI performed jointly with the well known American women’s ensemble TAPESTRY, singing compositions by Pēters Aldiņš and Robert Kyr. This promises to be the start of future collaboration between the two groups, with concerts in both this country and Latvia. Dace Aperāne and Līga Aldiņa organized the tour.

    A day before the Boston concert, the classical radio station of Boston interviewed the singers of PUTNI and TAPESTRY and broadcast their recordings. In New York City, PUTNI presented a concert jointly with the famous “New Amsterdam Singers”; a reception arranged by Guna Mundheim, a member of TLITS Board, followed this concert. Audiences at all concerts where overwhelmed by the quality of the programs and the musical excellence of the singers.

    With financial support from the American Latvian Association, PUTNI presented four special concerts to the students of Latvian schools, where the singers introduced Latvian folk music and Latvian composers Pēters Vasks, Maija Einfelde and Juris Ābols to the young audiences.

    In spite of the financial support received from Latvia’s Kultūrkapitāla Fund and the municipality of Rīga, and in spite of the frugal travel arrangements, the tour ended up with a deficit.

  • The well known organist Aivars Kalējs presented concerts in ten cities from Long Island to Chicago and in between, with a total audience of some 900 music lovers. At the first concert in West Point Cadet Chapel Kalējs played his own composition “Musica Dolente”, created in memory of the tragic events in New York City on September 11, 2001. Mr. Kalējs received a standing ovation. Astra Zemzars arranged the tour.

    In Houston the concert was organized by the First Baptist Church of Houston together with the local Honorary Latvian Consulate. In many other cities the Latvian community worked with local concert-series organizers (for example in Cleveland it was one of the "Brownbag" concerts). In all cities the public appreciated his varied program, which included such composers as Johann Gottfried Muethel, the last student of Bach, who worked in Riga, as well as 20th century Latvian composers and Kalējs own compositions. The organist at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte exclaimed "Aivars gave a magnificent concert. He is a master." 

    Receipts of the tour met the tour expenses without needing added contributions from TILTS. Thanks to all who worked with local churches to make the concerts a reality and to all the families who hosted Mr. Kalējs. A review of his Cleveland concert can be found in the LAIKS Christmas issue."

Theatre

A troop from the National Theatre presented the play “Zilā” (The Blue One) by Gunārs Priede  on a tour of 15 cities. The tour started September 6 in Portland on the West Coast, covered cities in the Midwest and East Coast, including Toronto, and ended October 2 in St. Petersburg in Florida. Marcis Voldiņš managed the tour.

The action takes place in the Soviet days at a place on the Black Sea, where the family from Latvia has traveled after tragic personal events at home. Audiences at all performances were very complimentary regarding the professional performances by the actors, but opinions differed on the choice of the play; the environment in the play was unfamiliar to the viewers, and some would have preferred material of lighter nature.

The actors had an opportunity to watch some Broadway shows in New York City, and were satisfied with the trip, although would have preferred more leisurely arrangements – on average, they had to perform every second day. The receipts of the tour covered expenses.

Ethnic Performances

The ensemble VILKI came from Latvia to the USA in the spring for a tour of 16 performances, starting with Seattle, WA on April 18, then covering the Midwest and East Coast, and ending in St. Petersburg, FL. The tour was supported by the Latvian government under the auspices of the program for support of Latvian cultural activities abroad (IUMSILS), and it was sponsored jointly by TILTS and Daugavas Vanagi. Maija Zaeska was responsible for the tour.

The VILKI group is well known for their singing and demonstration of the songs and lifestyles of Latvian warriors, ranging from ancient times to the Latvian riflemen in the Czars’ army, to Latvian Legionnaires of the Second World War and the national partisans following the Soviet occupation. They have collected the most recent songs from the actual participants in the war, and they fashion the ancient weapons themselves in accordance with recent archeological discoveries.

VILKI supplemented their singing with demonstration of the use of the ancient weapons and with pictures projected on a large screen. The audiences were enthusiastic, and the younger generation was particularly interested in the ancient weaponry (so was the USA Immigration Service at the time VILKI entered the country!).

TILTS expresses appreciation to Daugavas Vanagi for co-sponsoring the tour, and to IUMSILS for the grant. The tour ended with a slight surplus.

Lectures and Presentations

In November-December TILTS arranged reading of poetry by the well-known Latvian poet Juris Kronbergs from Sweden. Public recitals were arranged in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, East Brunswick (NJ), and St. Petersburg (FL); a gathering for an American audience was arranged in New York City.  Valdis Bašēns managed the tour.

Mr. Kronbergs was particularly pleasantly surprised by the attention he received at American Latvian Youth Congress – a large number of the attendees were familiar with his work, were eager to attend his recitals, and were enthusiastic about his poems.

The expenses exceeded the proceeds of the tour, and TILTS had to cover the difference.

Exceptional Young Artists Fund

The Exceptional Young Artists Fund, under the leadership of Laila Robiņa, in 2006 received a total of $9,500 in donations.

The total of $8,750 was awarded to the following young artists:

  • Dzintra Erliha (pianist)
  • Ikars Samardzijevs (tenor)
  • Paule Šūmane (violinist)
  • Reinis Zariņš (pianist)

Contributions to the Fund can be made by sending a check, written to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.”, to

TILTS, c/o Laila Robins,
241 Central Park West Apt. 14H,
New York, N.Y. 10024.

In its lifetime, the Exceptional Young Artists Fund has awarded a total of over $100,000 to over 30 young artists.

History Projects Fund

The newly created History Projects Fund, managed by Lilita Bergs, in 2006 received $4,430 from 26 donors.

The Fund made an award of $3,000 to Anna Žigure to cover her expenses in the preparation of the book, tentatively called “Eslingena,” about the Latvian Displaced Persons (DP) camps in Germany following the Second World War. Her plan is to cover the lives of people, in the form of a novel, after the people left Latvia in 1944-1945 to escape the advancing Soviet army and before they left the camps for overseas countries around 1950.

Contributions to the Fund can be made by sending a check, written to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.”, to

TILTS, c/o Lilita Bergs,
P.O. Box 67,
Fabius, NY 13063.

Meetings in Latvia

To advance interaction with and among people who have moved to Latvia from the West, particularly among the members of TILTS, TILTS arranged two gatherings in Latvia:

  • On July 1, jointly with The Canadian-Latvian Business Association managed by Edvīns Kalviņš, TILTS arranged a gathering of Latvians of the world at the Rīgas Latviešu Biedrība. The Canadian Embassy joined the organization of this event, and, because of security precautions mandated by the Canadian government, the event took on a rather formal character, where all admissions were subject to prior approval.
  • On November 13, TILTS arranged a gathering of its members at the Architect’s House in Rīga.

Support

In 2006 TILTS board awarded financial support to the following projects:

  • $1,875 for the purchase of five Braille printers shipped to the Strazdmuiža School of the Blind, Latvia.
  • $2,000 to the Latvian-born musician Arkady Fomin in support of the series of benefit concerts “Symphony of Toys” he is organizing in Latvia to help needy children.
  • $1000 in support of the children play “Sprīditis”, performed at the Garezers camp.
  • Support for the shipment of Prof. Olafs Zeidenbergs art books to the Latvian Academy of the Arts (five cases of books have been shipped under the auspices of the History projects Fund).

Recognition

We are gratified that, on the basis of our initiative or with our support, the President of Latvia has bestowed recognition to the following:

  • Tālivaldis Bērziņš - IV class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Ingrīda Gutberga - IV class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Gundars Ķēnižš-King – IV class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Ojārs Celle – V class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Astrīda Jansone – V class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Jānis Peniķis – V class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis
  • Laila Robiža - V class Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis

Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis (the Order of the Three Stars) is the highest civilian recognition in Latvia, and Atzinības krusts (The Cross of Merit) is awarded by the President for outstanding service to the country.

On the basis of our initiative, the American Latvian Association has awarded the following recognition:

  • Edīte Irbe – ALA Atzinības raksts

Other Significant Events of 2006

  • TILTS established the “History Projects Fund” under the leadership of Lilita Bergs, Aivars Keire and Biaba Pinne to support projects related to the documentation of history of Latvia and Latvians.
  • Ints Dzelsgalvis represented TILTS at the 2006 ALA Congress.
  • Dace Aperāne and Baiba Pinne represented TILTS at the Council of New York Latvian Organizations.
  • Andris Padegs and Ģirts Zeidenbergs participated at the US-Baltic Foundation event and reception in Washington, DC March 3 in recognition of Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, the President of Latvia.
  • Andris Padegs has submitted an article about TILTS for the forthcoming encyclopedia of world’s Latvian Associations, sponsored by the Rīgas Latviešu Biedrība.
  • Ģirts Zeidenbergs was invited to represent TILTS at the 100th anniversary event of Anšlavs Eglītis at the Rīgas Latviešu biedrība.

The 2006 annual review was prepared in Latvian and English by Andris Padegs.

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