Review of 2001 Activities

Our thanks to all our participants and suppporters for a successful 2001! Following is a recap from our annual member communication, published January, 2002.

School Improvement Project

Under the leadership of Peteris Zarins, Edite Irbe, and Lauma Upelniece Katis and with your contributions and help, we are continuing to provide computers and educational materials to schools of Latvia. The project previously was called "Computer Project." To reflect the broader scope of the project in that we will be responding also the requests from schools for educational materials, the project has been renamed "School Improvement Project."

In 2001 we received a total of $4,800 in contributions to this project. We wish to thank you for your help.

We were able to provide computers to Benes Elementary School, Cirava Trade School and Visku Technical School; and we provided financial grants to Riga 49th High School and to Vestienes Elementary School for the purchase of the requested educational materials. Additionally, with the help of the Association of Free Latvians of the World (PBLA), three computer systems were sent to Augsbebru School in Siberia, which is attended by a significant number of Latvian children. The First High School of Bauska received from us two foil projectors as well as software for computer-assisted design.

We were very pleased when in several instances our gifts prompted local town governments to contribute funds to improve their schools' computer laboratories. This is very gratifying, as it demonstrates to the students that through cooperation the seemingly impossible can be achieved.

Continuing the tradition of Draudzîgais Aicinâjums, we again invite you to make contributions to Latvia's schools. For your donation, you may wish to choose a school in Latvia that has special meaning to you. We can help you to establish the needs of your chosen school. Please contact Peteris Zarins if you would like to contribute.

Donations in USA are tax-deductible.

Theater

We have to begin this section with sad news - on October 24, 2001 Velta Zeberga Ulms suddenly passed away. Velta had been in charge of our theater tourneys and had demonstrated great dedication and ingenuity in fulfilling this task. We will miss her enthusiasm, wisdom and sincerity.

In 2001, two theater tours were arranged:

  • Jaunais Rigas Teatris (The New Theater of Riga) presented "Brivais kritiens" ("Free Fall"), a play by the Estonian writer Jaan Tatje. The tour was very well received and financially broke even in spite of some complications with the permit for a presentation in Canada and the illness of one of the actresses.
  • Latvijas Lellu Teatris (The State Puppet Theater of Latvia) presented shows at the Latvian children's camp in Catskills and other places. The first performance placed an unusual demand on the theater group, as the decorations, including the puppets, were misplaced by the airline and arrived only after the show. Through the ingenuity of the performers, the show, however, went on and was a great success.

Concerts

  • On May 31, 2001 TILTS arranged a concert at the Merkin Concert hall in Manhattan by the piano duet from Latvia Antra and Normunds Viksnes with the percussionist Edgars Saksons. The concert was supported by the American Latvian Association, the Council of New York Latvian Organizations, and the Permanent Latvian Mission to the UN.
  • On May 28, 2001 Antra and Normunds Viksnes and Edgars Saksons participated at the International ProPiano "Duo-Piano Recital Series" competition in New York, where they were placed among the top five finalists. A total of some 50 teams participated. They performed mostly compositions by contemporary Latvian composers.
  • In the fall of 2001 Pauls Berkolds, jointly with the West Coast Latvian Concert Association, arranged a West Coast tour by the outstanding young pianist Vestards Simkuss. The concert was very well received. Pauls Berkolds also arranged a private audition for Simkuss with the well-known USC professor Daniel Pollack. At the end of November 2001 Simkuss finished in first place and received the top award (15,000 Swedish Kronas) at the International Young Artists competition in Stockholm. Crown princess Victoria was the Patroness of this competition.
  • In November 2001 TILTS arranged a US concert tour for three tenors from the Latvian National Opera: Miervaldis Jencis, Nauris Puntulis, Guntars Rungis and their concertmaster composer Juris Kulakovs. The artists performed in Priedaine (NJ), St. Petersburg (FL), New York City and Washington, DC; the last two performances were part of Latvia's Independence Day celebration. The performances were very well received by the audiences.

Presentations and Shows

  • In March 2001 film director Maruta Jurjane with the cameraman Andris Priedite interviewed and filmed more than 20 Latvian musicians, writers, actors, and others in New York City, Boston, New Jersey and Washington (DC). The project, called Personalities in Latvian Culture in Exile, was coordinated by Dace Aperane and Peteris Dajevskis in cooperation with Mara Zirnite. Currently a video is in preparation about the poet Elza Kezbere, which will be the first one in a series. TILTS expresses gratitude to everybody who helped by providing transportation or overnight stay to Jurjane and Priedite.
  • In March 2001 Professor Andris Caune, director of the History Institute, gave a lecture in Yonkers about Riga and its 800-year history. Prof. Caune is the author of a number of books and is an authority in his field. The speaker illustrated his talk with slides of the latest archeological excavations. The talk was very well received and was part of a tour arranged by Girts Zeidenbergs.
  • In September 2001 Dr. Janis Vaivads, former minister of Education and Science and later the Director of European Integration Bureau, gave a lecture on "Considerations Concerning Latvia's Joining the European Union." The lecture was well attended, with numerous questions from the audience. Andris Padegs arranged the event.
  • On October 14, 2001 film director Dzintra Geke participated in the showing of her documentary "Sibirijas berni" (the Children of Siberia) in Pleasantville, NY. The film presented the story of the Latvian children who were deported to Siberia as part of the deportations under the communist rule. The theater was sold out, and the show was very well received. The presentation was arranged by Dace Aperane and Peteris Dajevskis in cooperation with "Sibirijas bernu fonds."

Visual Arts

TILTS is continuing to support Zvartava, the International Art Symposia and Education Center, in Aluksne, Latvia. In August of last summer, Guna Mundheim and Laila Robina from TILTS made a site visit to the Center. The Center at that time had just begun a two-week symposium on small clay works attended by approximately 16 artists from various European countries as well as the USA. In spite of the cold and rainy day, the artists were spirited and expressed great enthusiasm for the opportunity to work together, exchange ideas and build professional relationships. Other 2001 events at Zvartava: "Metal Works," "The Painter and Porcelain," "International Fiber Conference," "Stone Work" with guest artists, and an International Symposium on "Ceramics and Porcelain."

The Center is in continuous use affording space for symposia, artist residencies as well as programs for school children. A number of major capital improvements, such as a water purification system and electrical installation, have been made to the main building. A sculpture gallery has been established in the lower level of one of the stables. Considerable additional improvements, including roof work, sky lights, and light fixtures, are urgently needed in order for the artists to work in reasonable conditions.

LMS president, Egils Rozenbergs, expressed thanks for TILTS' support to Zvartava and outlined plans for the next year. During 2002, Zvartava will host an international stone sculpture symposium, an all-media symposium on the color "Blue", which is held in a different country each year, a Swedish artists workshop and many others.

Support

In 2001 TILTS' Exceptional Talent Fund, headed by Laila Robina with the help of Ilga Blankmeyer and Helga Petrasevica, has received $5,450 in contributions. The following grants were made by the Fund in 2001:

  • Pianist Armands Abols, $1,850, to participate in the preliminary auditions for the Van Cliburn Competition in New York.
  • Actress Anna Kepe, $3,700, for studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
  • Flautist Ilona Kudina, $1,000, for studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • Pianist Rudolfs Ozolins, $1,000, for study at the Centenary College in Shreveport, LA.
     
    Additionally, in 2001 the following received payments from TILTS for grants made in 2000: Juris Zvikovs $250, and Diana Baibus $1,200.
     
  • On March 5, 2001, 26 boxes of books were shipped to the Library of the University of Latvia. Irene Blumfelds had willed these books to the Ladies Auxiliary of the New York Latvian Church Northern District, which in turn dedicated them to the LU Library. TILTS covered the shipping expenses of $350. Gunta Semba and Andris Padegs managed the selection of the final recipient and shipment.
  • In 2000 TILTS supported studio "Devini" for the creation of the documentary film "Pasaule Nepasaule," where the writers and poets of Elles Kekis (Hell's Kitchen) in New York were filmed. The first showing of this film took place October 8, 2001, and on November 18 it was shown on Latvian TV. It was recognized as one of the best in Latvian National Film festival "Lielais Kristaps" and received the Silver Medal from the Municipal Council of Riga.

Recognition

We are gratified that, on the basis of our initiative, the President of Latvia has bestowed the following recognition for service to Latvia:

  • Dace Aperane, TILTS vice-president - Music, was awarded Triju Zvaigznu ordenis for her accomplishments as composer and conductor and for her contributions in establishing the International Young Musician Workshops.
  • Andris Padegs, TILTS senior vice-president, was awarded Triju Zvaigznu ordenis for his accomplishments on behalf of Latvian national and cultural interests and his initiative and contributions in organizing worldwide congresses of Latvian scientists.
  • Astra Zemzare, TILTS vice-president - RDZ 2001, was awarded Triju Zvaigznu ordena Goda zime for her accomplishments in managing the 2001 US tour of the Riga Dome Boys Choir.
  • Velta Zeberga-Ulms, TILTS vice-president - Theater, was awarded Triju Zvaigznu ordena Goda zime for her accomplishments in arranging and managing American tours of Latvian theater groups.

We are very pleased that, on the basis of our recommendation, in cooperation with the Latvian Writers' Association (LARA), Triju Zvaigznu ordenis was awarded to:

  • The poet Elza Kezbere for her outstanding contributions to Latvian poetry.

Similarly, we are very pleased that Triju Zvaigznu ordenis was awarded to:

  • The author Karlis Zvejnieks, TILTS member, for his outstanding contributions to Latvian literature.
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