13. April - 14. April

April of Pēteris Vask's music 2024

Organised by: Koncertzāle Cēsis

From 13 to 14 April 2024, Cēsis Concert Hall is hosting the annual spring festival April of Pēteris Vasks’ Music, presenting, as always, a very special programme created for admirers of the composer’s work and all music lovers. This year, we will experience the Latvian premiere of the documentaryDer Komponist und sein Himmel – Pēteris Vasks’ (The Composer and His Heaven), the world premiere of the Kyiv Modern-Ballet production of one-act ballets ‘Lonely Angel’ and ‘Friends’, as well as a concert programme by the Navarra String Quartet.

The festival opens on Saturday, 13 April 2024 at 16:00 with the Latvian premiere of the documentary ‘Der Komponist und sein Himmel – Pēteris Vasks’ (The Composer and His Heaven) by the German filmmaker Holger Vogt, as well as a Q & A with the authors of the film and the composer.

The maker of the film first met Pēteris Vasks in 2021 in Riga and went on to shadow him for a whole year, both while writing music, at rehearsals and concerts, and at home or in nature. The project has resulted in this sensitive portrait of an unusual artist. The film was co-produced by the Latvian Television.

The programme continues at 19:00 with another event, the world premiere of the ‘Lonely Angel. Friends’ ballet performance that was created especially for this festival. Guests of the festival – the Kyiv Modern-Ballet and choreographer Radu Poklitaru – have staged two one-act ballets set to two musical pieces by the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks: the meditation ‘Lonely Angel’ and Cello Concerto No. 2 ‘Presence’.

According to Pēteris Vasks, the inspiration for his mediation for violin and strings ‘Lonely Angel’ was a vision he describes in the following way: ‘An angel is floating above the world, watching the devastated Earth through tears, and yet an almost imperceptible, loving touch of its wings brings comfort and healing. This piece is a response to pain.’

Today, a similar reality and, sadly, not just an imaginary scene is revealed to us in the war-torn Ukraine following Russia’s full scale invasion into this sovereign state. The one-act ballet set to the music of this piece by Pēteris Vasks is our tribute to the Ukrainian nation and a show of support for Ukrainian artists during these times of hardship.

‘After a 16-year interval, I decided to approach the music of Pēteris Vasks again. The profound sound of Cello Concerto No. 2 reflects these recent years during which I have grown older and which have brought into my life so many things. Not just the horror of war but also myriads of radiant love, friendship, warmth, jealousy, desperation, secret touches and brilliant hope. This is my birthday gift to Pēteris. Holding my breath, more excited than ever, I will count down to the final moments of the ballet to understand whether I have lived up to Maestro’s hopes, whether I have somehow managed to find the semantic accents in his music. Happy birthday, my dear Genius!’ – reveals the author of the one-act ballets, the internationally acclaimed Ukrainian choreographer Radu Poklitaru.

The second day of the festival, 14 April, sees a Navarra String Quartet (United Kingdom). Since its inception in 2002, the ensemble has won international acclaim as one of the most dynamic and poetic string quartets today. It has proved itself with appearances at some of the world’s top concert halls like the Wigmore Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Konzerthaus Berlin and the Sidney Opera House.

In 2010, in the presence of the composer Pēteris Vasks, the quartet recorded its first album, a compilation of three string quartets by Pēteris Vasks. The BBC Music Magazine in its review gave the album five stars out of five. The successful collaboration of several years between the quartet and the composer was the reason why Pēteris Vasks invited the Navarra String Quartet to take part in his festival in Cēsis.

The festival programme features the string quartet’s take on Pēteris Vasks’ String Quartet No. 4, followed by pieces by Britten and Ravel.

As usual, the most significant musical events at Cēsis Concert Hall are complemented by visual arts. The weekend of the April of Pēteris Vasks’ Music Festival will see the opening of an exhibition by the painter Kaspars Zariņš entitled ‘Sense of Time’, a way for the artist to encourage us to savour every moment that makes our everyday life more beautiful and brings us a fleeting experience of happiness.

Festival program

Festival Archive