Review of 2005 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. 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. Since schools in Latvia are small in relation to the size of schools in America, a relatively modest contribution can provide a major impact on the school’s budget.

In 2005 we have received the following contributions:

  • Viktors Bokums, Valija Raudzeps un Pēteris Zariņš have contributed a total of $5000 for the schools in Liepāja, Ogre and Cēsis districts.
  • TILTS has ordered five Braille printers for the Strazdmuiža School for blind children; supported in part by contributions from Anna Čakste Rollins and Gunta Semba.

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 your former school you or the school your parents or grand parents attended. We will determine the school’s needs, take care of all formalities and use your contribution according to your instructions. Alternatively, add $50 (or more) to your annual TILTS contribution for our general school support budget. We will let you know how your gift was used.

Please contact Pēteris Zariņš if you would like to contribute. Donations in USA are tax-deductible.

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

Classical Music

Under the leadership of Dace Aperāns, TILTS arranged three tours by ensembles from Latvia. It should be noted that all of these ensembles had received the Grand Music Award of Latvia.

It should also be noted that in spite of the public and critical acclaim, the income from these tours did not cover their expenses. These concert series were supported by various foundations, including the Latvijas Kultūrkapitāla fonds and the local concert associations, and part of the expenses were covered by TILTS and individual donors.

  • Rīgas saksafonu kvartets (RSQ) (The Saxophone Quartet of Riga) (Sept. 30 - Oct. 14) presented concerts at the Macalester College (St. Paul, MN), Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland. Additionally, Pauls Berkolds had arranged a concert at the California Institute of Arts (Valencia, CA) for the faculty and student body. The head of the RSQ is Latvian Music Academy professor Artis Sīmanis; other members are Renārs Lācis, Gints Pabērzs un Ainārs Šablovskis.
         The RSQ tour was significant in that it was the first time an American audience had an opportunity to hear Latvian compositions for the saxophone, performed by an outstanding ensemble. The tour resulted in a meaningful collaboration between the quartet and the Music Department of Macalester College.
  • Organist Iveta Apkalna (Oct. 22 – 29) performed in four places. The first concert was part of the Twelfth North American Latvian Organ Festival in New York City at the Cathedral of Incarnation, with Vita Kalnciema from Latvia and Marta Prāmniece from the USA also participating. The program included the composition “Fantasia” by the talented young Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, which was dedicated to this festival. The audience of some 350 included both Latvians and Americans. Other concerts followed at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, in Cohasset, MA, and then in Poughkeepsie, NY, where Māris Kristapsons had arranged for Iveta to present a lecture on Latvian organ music at the Poughkeepsie branch of the American Organ Guild.
         Iveta was born in Rēzekne, Latvia, and recently had caught attention of the music world by receiving the 2005 Echo-Klassik “Best Instrumentalist of Year” award for her compact disc “Himmel & Holle”. Her concerts were very well received by the public, and there was an unusual response from New York Times—a week before the Organ Festival in a dedicated article in the Culture Footnotes section the paper reviewed Iveta’s accomplishments and her forthcoming performance at the Organ Festival.
         The churches where Iveta performed admired her talent and skill. As a result of the concerts, the churches expressed a desire to find out more about Latvian music and also about the organ at the Riga Dom Cathedral. Iveta turned out to be a brilliant ambassador of Latvian culture, and TILTS with these concerts established new contacts and built a bridge for future collaboration with several churches.
  • RIX Piano Quarter tour (Oct. 29 – Nov. 19) included concerts in nine cities in the USA and Canada. In Seattle the quartet performed for an American audience in a special concert of New Music, where it presented the “Piano Quartet” composition by Pēteris Vasks. In Cleveland the RIX quartet played Richards Dubra “Via Lucis”, which was a piece composed specifically for this concert at the request of the Cleveland Latvian Concert Association. In New York the RIX concert was presented as part of the “Fabri Chamber Concert” series, which normally includes well known musicians from the New York Philharmonic.
         The RIX Piano Quartet includes four well known Latvian musicians: violinist Sandis Šteinbergs (individually received the Grand Music Award of Latvia), altist Ilze Kļava, cellist Reinis Birznieks and pianist Jānis Maļeckis.
  • A series of concerts by the violinist Rasma Lielmanis and pianist Gints Bērziņš took place in April. The tour included Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Philips, SD. The concerts were well received. In one of the programs on classical music, the Latvian Radio station in Riga referred to this concert tour organized by TILTS.

Choir

On June 25 – 28, jointly with the governing board of Garezers, TILTS arranged concerts by the choir of the Riga Technical University Gaudeamus, with conductor Ivars Cinkuss, at Garezers and in Kalamzoo. The Garezers concert was part of the Latvian St. Johns day celebration and was attended by an audience of over 600.

The Latvian government has allocated funds for the support of cultural activities of the Latvian communities abroad, and this was the first time when TILTS, in cooperation with PBLA (the central organization of Latvians abroad), had applied for these funds. TILTS received an award of $2,456 for the support of this concert, which covered part of the bus fare for the choir. The choir had been invited to participate at the AmericaFest 2005 men’s and boys’ choir festival in Collegeville, MN, and for this reason was scheduled to come to Minnesota. At the suggestion of Alberts Legzdiņš, TILTS made use of the presence of the choir to arrange concerts in the Latvian communities of the area.

Popular Music

  • From April 2 to 16, the ensemble Lauku Muzikanti, with Inita Āboliņš and Normunds Kietis, was on a tour of 13 cities, including Florida, the East Coast, Toronto and the Mid West. Jānis Bībelnieks and Jānis Students were responsible for the arrangements, and Valdis Bērziņš drove the van that took the musicians from city to city. The public enjoyed the concerts, and the organizers were pleased that income covered all expenses in the $13,000 budget (this budget does not include the local expenses of the concerts). People enjoyed particularly the extraordinary skill of the accordionist Inita.
  • In October, TILTS arranged 12 concerts by the singer Normunds Rutulis, managed by Jānis Bībelnieks and Jānis Students and covering 12 cities from Seattle and Portland to New York and Philadelphia. In the Toronto Latvian school Rutulis taught Latvian songs to the children. The tour was a success – people liked the popular music presented by this highly accomplished artist and proceeds (around $10,000) covered all expenses (again, this covers only the tour and not the local expenses)

Lectures and Presentations

  • On February 28, the well known Latvian poet Juris Kronbergs from Sweden recited his poetry and talked about creation of poetry at the Yonkers Latvian church. He writes in three languages: Latvian, Swedish and English. Because of a snow storm, only a dozen or so people were present, but, with a glass of wine, everybody enjoyed listening to his poetry and marveling at his personality. Arrangements were made by Ģirts Zeidenbergs.
  • October 29 – November 4  Ilmārs and Janta Mežs, who had participated in the expedition, gave talks in Kalamazoo, New York and Priedaine about their trip to Siberia in search for yet unknown Latvian communities in the districts of Omsk and Krasnojarsk. The talk was illustrated with slides and video clips and gave a deep impression of the miserable conditions there. The tour was arranged by Andris Padegs.
  • TILTS took an active part publicizing the performances of the musical “Eslingen” in Riga, with performances July 8 – 16. Additional performances had to be included.

Exceptional Young Artists Fund

The Exceptional Young Artists Fund, under the leadership of Laila Robiņa, received a total of $8,500 in donations; a total of $7,500 was awarded to the following young artists:

  • Paula Šūmane (violinist)
  • Arturs Cingujevs (pianist)
  • Rūdolfs Ozoliņš (pianist)
  • Jānis Petraškēvičs (composer)

The Fund arranged a concert “Riga on My Mind” in New York at the Kosciuszko Foundation with Arkady Fomin, Peter Steffens and David Korevaar.

In its lifetime, the Exceptional Young Artists Fund has awarded a total of around $100,000 to over 30 young artists. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Fund can mail a check to:

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

Support

In 2005 TILTS board awarded financial support to the following projects:

  • $1000 to the 2005 expedition in search of Latvian communities in Siberia.
  • $1000 to the Seventh International Music Camp in Ogre, Latvia (takes place in 2006).
  • $500 to the Indianapolis Latvian Song Festival of 2007 (TILTS advertisement).
  • Support for the shipment of Dr. Jānis and Tamara Zemzars books to Dundaga lilbrary (300 books).

Recognition

We are gratified that, on the basis of our initiative or support, the President of Latvia has bestowed recognition to the following. The Order of the Three Stars (Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis) is the highest civilian recognition in Latvia, and The Cross of Merit (Atzinības krusts) is awarded by the President for outstanding service to the country):

  • Andrievs Ezergailis, The Order of the Three Stars, Class IV, for his research in the persecution of Latvian population under Russian and German occupations and his persistent efforts to expose the truth nationally and internationally.
  • Maija Veinberga Hinkle, The Cross of Merit, Class IV, for her initiative and persistent dedication in documenting the experiences of Latvians in Latvia and abroad and for publicizing the necessity for such documentation.
  • Edvīns Kalviņš, Gold Medal of The Cross of Merit, for his creative work in supporting and expanding the Latvian folk dance traditions and for organizing Latvian song and folk-dance festivals in Canada.
  • Zaiga Alsknis Phillips, The Cross of the Merit, Class IV, for her initiative and dedication over many years in helping to improve the medical systems in Latvia and for soliciting support from organizations and people in America.
  • Anna Čakste Rollins, Gold Medal of The Order of the Three Stars for her initiative and personal dedication in helping and providing financial support for needy people, especially children, and organizations in Latvia.

Other Highlights of 2006

  • Ints Dzelzgalvis represented TILTS at the American Latvian Association (ALA) annual congress.
  • Baiba Pinnis represents TILTS at the Council of New York Latvian Organizations.
  • Andris Padegs and Ģirts Zeidenbergs met with the Latvian ambassador to the USA Māris Riekstiņš in Washington to review various issues.
  • Andris Padegs and Ģirts Zeidenbergs met in Riga with Minister for Special Assignments Ainārs Latkovskis to discuss the availability of funding for cultural activities.
  • Andris Padegs and Ģirts Zeidenbergs have assembled a network of people who will provide timely response to falsehoods about Latvia in the key American and European newspapers.
  • Ints Dzelzgalvis, Edīte Irbe, Ģirts Zeidenbergs and Astra Zemzare represented TILTS at the conference in Riga of the world’s Latvian associations.
  • TILTS expressed appreciation to President Bush for his visit to Latvia (and received response).
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