Aigars Reinis, music director of Riga Dome, and singer Katrīna Paula tell in an interview with LR3 “Klasika” about what unites ImKu with Pjacolla, how to work with foreigners in their native language, and also about the biggest challenges when performing at the Riga Dome. Felsberg.
Ilze Medne: Riga Cathedral has opened its doors to listeners and invites to a festival that already has a beautiful and long history. The festival “Riga Dome” is probably one of the most thorough traditions of Riga Dome?
Aigars Reinis: Undeniably, the festival is long-standing, and it took place last year as well. It should be mentioned here that both last year and this year, this is thanks to the support of the Culture Capital Fund, because the restrictions on attendance, and thus the specifics of cash flow, including changes in royalties, have been a huge burden. In any case, the festival takes place, and this year it [atkal] we can call it international, because excellent organists visit us – the “Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam has already been performed the concert of the outstanding organist Leo Van Duselar, providing a wonderful feeling of the opening ceremony, as well as the excellent professor Gerhard Weinberger has already played his program, and we are still waiting to visit Leipzig’s “Gewandhaus” organist Mikhail Schoenith. These are excellences that also make us focus on development and look to Europe and the world.
How do you invite these guests – do they find you or do you seek and invite them? How does cooperation work?
Aigars Reinis: The cooperation has been established for a long time, looking for contacts. However, although the Riga Cathedral and its organ seem to us to be a common thing,
I have concluded that there are still residents of Latvia who have not entered the Riga Dome since childhood or have not been here at all.
However, foreign organists are still very interested in our instrument, they really want to get here, because everyone wants to play an excellent example of romanticism – the Riga Dome organ. At the same time, I find it interesting to hear how they sound, because playing this organ is a challenge: this is a 140-year-old unrebuilt original instrument, unlike, for example, France, where this type of organ has a built-in computer system and various facilities.
The Riga Dome organ is an original instrument, so it is always interesting what great organists do with this instrument – how they cope and what they offer.
How does the tool feel right now? Has this year, when it was not used very intensively, come in handy, or vice versa?
Aigars Reinis: The intensity has definitely been lower, but at the same time we have had live broadcasts so that the instrument has been playing all the time. True, a big challenge for the instrument is the current heat – there are some registers that can no longer be tuned so high. So that summer has literally entered the Riga Dome Cathedral.
Fortunately, the heat has receded this week and nothing will stop the two concerts that will celebrate the anniversaries of Latvian composers. Does the Latvian music line seem very important to the Riga Dome Cathedral and its concert organizers?
Aigars Reinis: In the context of the festival, it is important for us to create a diverse program. There must definitely be both classics of organ music – so in a week Bach will play here, and there must also be a premiere and, of course, the music of Latvian composers. It has happened that this week is like a jubilee week, where jubilee music concerts of eight composers will be performed in two concerts – both on July 21 and July 23. On July 21, the concert will combine an interesting line-up – Imants Kalniņš will meet Astor Pjacolla, but Vita Kalnciems’s July 23 concert will also focus on our classics celebrating their anniversaries this year: Pēteris Vasks, Romualds Jermaks, Pauls Dambējs and Imants Zemzaris Indra Riše.
We will be able to see how much diversity is possible in Latvian organ music.
Katrīna Paula, your relationship with the Riga Dome began a long time ago, because you, as a singer of the Riga Dome Choir School girls’ choir “Tiara” for many years, have definitely been here more than once. So Riga Cathedral is a church whose vaults you know very well.
Catherine Paul Felsberg: Exactly. There are many hours spent here in worship, countless concerts, and wonderful Christmas worship. Now it’s a pleasure to come back here as an adult. We have a nice cooperation with Aigars Reins as a service for musical accompanists. Yes,
Riga Cathedral is my favorite church in Latvia and maybe in the world.
What is so special about this church that fascinates you?
Catherine Paul Felsberg: It is definitely a childhood sentiment, but singing accompanied by such an instrument and special acoustics – it is not comparable with other churches and other rooms.
Somehow the feeling for me as a Latvian and as a Rigan is very special here. It is always a big holiday for me to sing in Riga Dome.
Have you also received any professional advice on how to sing in Riga Dome – where to sound, at what point, in which vault? Because it’s not that simple.
Catherine Paul Felsberg: You have to listen to your intuition, you really can’t play music together easily and freely – you have to stick to a very metronomic song.
Now we are playing the concert program of Wednesday with organist Aija Ziņģīte, and she says – well, then you stay, sing everything that happened exactly, otherwise we can all go far into the forest together and get lost. (laughs)
Who owns the idea of an unusual combination – Imants Kalnins and Astora Pjacolla’s tango?
Aigars Reinis: This program was offered by Aija Ziņģīte, and in cooperation with Dzintra Kurmi-Gedroica, arrangements have been made for such an interesting composition. In the context of the festival, it seemed that another jubilee anniversary could be celebrated in this composition.
It is probably strange that tango is played in Riga Dome, Imants Kalnins is not an everyday life of Riga Dome either – the composition will be very, very interesting.
There will be an organ, percussion and a singer, which, of course, is nothing surprising today, but in any case – it will certainly be gorgeous, considering that the organ itself is like a symphony orchestra, but this time will be complemented by percussion, accompanying one of our the most wonderful sopranos of the new generation.
I think a nasty meeting is expected.
Katrīn, you will have to compete not only with the organ and not only one percussionist – there will be three! There will be something to fight …
Catherine Paul Felsberg:
Yes, it’s an interesting challenge for me – this time to sing not only soprano parts, but also imagining that I am a choir, bass baritone, mezzo-soprano and tenor.
Imants Kalniņš’s music is not a rest for the voice either, but I am very happy and honored that we can meet in his music.
What works will sound in the new colors?
Catherine Paul Felsberg: I will be in charge of Lelda’s aria from the opera “I play, dance”, the wonderful introduction and the first scene. The final of the oratorio “Morning Act” “Gates open” will be played, where then I will also feel all the characters. Of course, Mermaid’s song from the oratorio “Poet and Mermaid”. But from Astor Piacolla I will sing his wonderful and popular “Ave Maria”. There will still be “Blow, winds!” and “Lake Sonata”. Basically all the most beautiful melodies.
I am very happy and at the same time – also a pleasant excitement, as the first part of the Fourth Symphony will sound, because there is already a good rock festival – the percussionist and organist will be able to have fun …
Kalniņš and Pjacolla – do they both have something in common?
Catherine Paul Felsberg: I think you can draw parallels, because both composers tend to write quite instrumentally.
It also seems that Piacola’s tango interacts very well with the music of Imants Kalniņš, which is by no means a distinct academic
– he has found a wonderful golden mean between the non-academic and academic worlds. And the same can be said for the music of Astor Piacolla. So – yes, it seems to me that these worlds complement each other very well.
What does it mean to you to look for colors in this music, and how to make it your own?
Catherine Paul Felsberg: It is the destiny of singers and artists to switch very quickly – for example, Lelde’s aria, whose accompaniment (in this case – organ and percussionists, but in the original version – orchestra) is powerful and large, and then suddenly – Mermaid, where there are only bells and quiet registers.
But it is already so interesting in our profession – that in one evening it is possible to survive such different images. For example, “Vārti veras” – I can’t imagine an even more “fanfaristic” piece in the history of Latvian music. Yes, it will be a wonderful adventure.
Have you also worked on this program in Berlin, where you are studying with Professor Julia Kaufman? Has she seen these notes?
Catherine Paul Felsberg: Saw and said “super”. Working with this program, I taught my professor to pronounce Latvian, which she also got along very well.
In fact, it is very interesting to work with people who do not know your mother tongue, because they are only guided by how you tell them the text.
So how to interpret a particular music, they are more looking through the meaning of the text.
Yes, it was really interesting – to work with this program. Also, with my previous teacher Anci Ķirsi, I have worked on these compositions several times, so that the work has been put in and will hopefully pay off.
The organ of the Riga Dome and the voice of the singer is a very beautiful experience for the listeners. But the organist certainly has his difficulties. Aigar, what does it really mean for the organ in Riga Dome to connect with the voice?
Aigars Reinis: To a certain extent, each performance is also an acoustic challenge in terms of the ensemble – in terms of balance.
It is a matter of the organist’s mastery – to spend at the same time, to be beautiful, but not to oppress the soloist.
Yes, it is also quite complicated by the fact that there is a certain distance between the organist and the soloist – because in Riga Dome the soloist has to stand in front so that he is closer to the listener. So that challenge is enough. But now – this is our profession, which we probably do because it is different every time.
There are definitely advantages for organists who are “on you” with singing and vocal art, right? Aigar, you have a lot of experience working with the Latvian Radio Choir, and Aija Ziņģīte has been the same – she has been a singer of the chamber choir “Ave Sol” for many years.
Aigars Reinis: It’s hard for me to say, but others always say so (laughs). I hope so.
Katrīn, you have had contact with Aija Ziņģīte as a schoolgirl and teacher so far …
Catherine Paul Felsberg: Aija Ziņģīte has been my dear piano teacher, it seems for twelve years, but then
Under the influence of the thought organ, I thought that I wanted to play the organ in my graduation and I did it – Aija taught me organ playing for four years of high school …
Now is a very nice opportunity for both of us to meet like [līdzvērtīgām] musicians.
Does this mean that you even know what it’s like to sit at the Riga Dome organ ?!
Catherine Paul Felsberg: Yes, I know – it’s very scary. (laughs) And three more assistants pull out all sorts of registers around you … I don’t remember much of that performance, but now – once in a lifetime it has been and probably won’t be more and isn’t needed. Let the people who have to do it. (laughs)