Student forms choir to present research
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 00:09
The tiny Baltic country of Latvia, with its rich musical history, has found a soft spot in the heart of senior Music Education major Chris Walsh. Walsh will be giving a lecture recital this Thursday on Latvia called Echoes of the Baltic.
Working to become a champion of Latvian music, Walsh has been preparing for months to present a concert that’s part lecture on the history of the music and part choral concert showcasing the music of Latvia.
“The whole goal of all of this is to introduce Latvian music to America and American conductors,” said Walsh. “I want to help keep the tradition of Latvian music alive.”
Walsh’s passion for Latvian music began when he attended an American Choral Directors Association conference in March of 2011. The conference held performances by choirs from Canada, Hong Kong, the United States and Latvia.
“Chanticleer is commonly known as the best choir in the United States, but the choir from Latvia outperformed them and everyone else,” said Walsh. “From there I started researching it more, got really into it and was able to go there this summer.”
Alison Acord, Walsh’s voice teacher for the past four years, encouraged Chris to apply for the Summer Scholars program at Miami to further explore Latvia’s rich choral tradition and composers. Once he got the grant, Chris traveled to Latvia for several weeks, attended choral concerts and met several Latvian composers and conductors, getting to interview them and watch them rehearse their music.
“While the Soviet Union had control of Latvia, all of the music was very nationalist as a way of preserving Latvian traditions,” said Walsh.
Latvian choral music is often set to traditional poetry called dainas about pre-Christian deities and three important life events: birth, marriage and death.
“The music is totally different from anything going on in the United States or anywhere else in the world,” said Walsh. “It’s simple, to the point and interesting to listen to.”
Walsh’s lecture recital will feature four pieces selected to highlight the different facets of the Latvian tradition. It will include two pieces by Eriks Esenvalds, one by Peteris Butans and one by Imants Ramins.
Walsh and Acord also applied for a Havighurst Grant to perform works of living composers from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. The February concert will showcase art songs of composers.
“Chris is highly intelligent, but he is also an approachable, friendly and fun-loving guy,” said Acord. “He works as hard as any student I have ever taught. He is passionate about choral music and about conducting, and this passion drives him to be extremely self-motivated.”
Echoes of the Baltic: A Lecture Recital takes place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in 222 Presser Hall. Admission is free.