Latvia’s historic capital, Riga, and the country’s flagship seaside resort, Jurmala, are the two settings for a new music festival that promises to give music lovers a combination of artists and repertoire that aims to rank with the best in the world.
The festival will comprise four intense weekends, taking place between 21 July and 1 September and all featuring classical musicians of the highest international distinction. The programme will expand to six weekends in 2020 and eight weekends in 2021.
Appropriately, the inaugural concert on 21 July 2019 will be conducted by Mariss Jansons, a native of Riga and a figure who exemplifies the position that Latvia – a country of less than two million people – has achieved in the musical world. He will conduct the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, of which he has been Chief Conductor since 2003.
A list of just some of the other artists appearing in 2019 proves that the Riga Jurmala Music Festival is getting off to a spectacular start: Zubin Mehtawill conduct the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda the London Symphony Orchestra, and Mikhail Pletnev the Russian National Orchestra. Pianists include Murray Perahia, Yuja Wang and Seong-Jin Cho, violinist Vadim Repin and cellist Mischa Maisky – who, like Mariss Jansons, was born in Riga.
The opening gala will take place in Riga – at the Latvian National Opera, a splendid gilded theatre dating from the 1860s. Jurmala’s Dzintari Concert Hall will host the rest of the festival. Recently the object of a stylish, multi-million-euro renovation, the Dzintari Concert Hall offers both an intimate timber-built venue, dating from 1936 and accommodating 500 people, and a 2,000-seat space which opened in the early 1960s and celebrates the summer by being open-sided.
This new Latvian festival is under the artistic direction of Martin Engstroem. Engstroem returns to the Baltic – he was born across the water in Sweden – from the mountains of Switzerland, where he continues to run the Verbier Festival: since he founded it 25 years ago the Verbier Festival has become synonymous with the world’s greatest musicians and with the development of exceptional young talent.
He collaborates on the Riga Jurmala Music Festival with Associate Artistic Director, Miguel Esteban, co-founder of the Verbier Festival, COO of London-based production company Idili Live and associate producer of Mamma Mia! The Party.
Supporting the Riga Jurmala Music Festival is the BMS Foundation, a philanthropic body dedicated to creating world-class classical music events in Latvia. The Foundation is looking forward to building on the success of the Baltic Musical Seasons concert series it launched in 2017, and which has featured such Latvian luminaries as conductor Andris Nelsons, soprano Kristīne Opolais and mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, and international visitors like Antonio Pappano (with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia), Juan Diego Flórez, Joshua Bell, Denis Matsuev, John Malkovich, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
As well as creating a magical event of great prestige, the team behind the Riga Jurmala Music Festival is committed to providing a major platform for young talent from all over the Baltics and abroad through performances and opportunities to work with the world’s greatest artists in an atmosphere of cultural exchange.
There is also a shared vision to ensure that festival events are available to the widest possible audience by offering a range of ticket prices across all the events.