RIGA CATHEDRAL GIRLS' CHOIR TIARA
Is one of the most vivid musical groups in the concert life of Latvia. Since the foundation of Riga Dom Cathedral Choir School (1994), when there were many boys and only few girls studying, the choir has grown and changed a lot. Currently the choir gathers more than 100 singers, age 9-16. The choir was founded in 1997, firstly performing in the services of Riga Cathedral and other churches in the capital. From 1997-2000 the conductor of the choir was Gunta Birziņa, since 2000 it has been lead by Aira Birziņa. In the Spring 2013 the choir was renamed as Riga Cathedral Girls` Choir TIARA (RCGC).
The repertoire of the girls’ choir is very wide, including arrangements of latvian folk songs and original choir compositions, sacred and secular classics, romantic and contemporary music. One of the main tasks of the choir is creative collaboration with composers – it has premiered opuses of Uģis Prauliņš, Rihards Dubra, Selga Mence, Romualds Jermaks, Lolita Ritmanis, Evija Skuķe, Raimonds Pauls, Mārtiņš Brauns, Juris Kulakovs, Renāte Stivriņa, Valdis Zilveris, Juris Vaivods, Līga Celma-Kursiete, Vytautas Miškinis (Lithuania) and others. The choir has participated in two children operas at the Latvian National Opera – Benjamin Britten, „The Little Sweep” and Maurice Ravel „L'enfant et les sortilèges” - as well as the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” by Andrew Lloyd Webber in Daile Theatre. In 2014 and 2015 the choir participate in „Potatoes opera” („Kartupeļu opera”), written by famous latvian poetess Inese Zandere and composed by six Latvian composers – Lolita Ritmanis, Evija Skuķe, Rihards Dubra, Līga Celma – Kursiete, Mārtiņš Brauns, Andris Sējāns.
One of the most interesting activities for the choir are master classes led by foreign conductors, deepening the knowledge on world cultures and choir music. Master classes in Riga have been already led by Erki Pohjola (Finland), Bob Chilcott (U.K.), Chifuru Matsubara (Japan), Aarne Saluveer (Estonia), Kenji Yamamoto (Japan), Sanna Valvanne (Finland/USA) and others. Choir conductor Aira Birzina regularly leads seminars and master classes both in Latvia and abroad, involving the RCGC in the practical sessions. The education and professional development of the choir singers – young musicians are being regularly facilitated by organizing different master classes and exercises, lectures and creative workshops (improvisation, dance, stage culture, rithmics, make-up, fashion, etiquet, art etc.)
The choir has performed and participated in festivals in Latvia, Estonia, Sweden,Germany, Great Britain, Lithuania, Spain, Hungary, Italy etc. It has won several prizes in international competitions – it is the 1st prize winner of the EBU and BBC Radio 3 contest ‘Let the Peoples Sing’ (Great Britain, 2003), the 1st prize winner of the International Choir Contest ‘Cantemus’ (Hungary, 2004), Grand Prix and the 1st prize winner of the children’s choir contest, special prize for the Basque song and special prize from the audience of the 41st Tolosa Choir Contest (Spain, 2009), the 1st place in the children’s choir category of the XII International Choir contest ‘Tallinn 2011’ (Estonia). The choir has participated in the XXIII, XXIV and XXV Nation wide Latvian Song and Dance Celebrations, Song and Dance Celebration ‘Rīgai – 800’, IX and X Latvian Youth Song and Dance Celebrations.
RCGC is singing in various music and choir festivals in Latvia organized by the professional concert agencies „Latvijas Koncerti”, „Ave Sol” and others. Concerts ‘Gribas drusku pablēņoties’ (‘This time joking around is allowed’) has been released in a DVD (2007) and a CD (in 2008, nominated for the Latvian Music Awards in the category ‘Musical album for children’). The girls’ voices have been recorded in CDs ‘Kas kaitēja nedzīvot’i’ (2004) and Rihards Dubra „Te Deum” (2006), as well as several records in the Archive of Latvian Radio. In year 2012 Riga Cathedral Girls’ Choir celebrated it’s 15th anniversary with a large concert in the University of Latvia Aula Magna. The sacred music CD „Jubilatio”, which was recorded in Riga Cathedral in collaboration with the organist Vita Kalnciema, served as a gift for both, the choir and listeners. The CD was nominated as the „Best music album of choirs and vocal groups” for the Latvian Music Records Award 2012. The choir has also recorded several pieces for the CD „Perpetuum Mobile”, devoted to jubilee of latvian composer Romulds Jermaks. In 2012 the CD has received a nomination for the „Best album of Academic music”. For concerts and receptions of state level the Choir collaborates with Riga Cathedral, State Chancellery, Ministry of Culture, Latvian National Centre for Culture and Riga City Council.
Aira Birziņa, conductor
Current positions: Associated Professor of Choral Conducting at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (since 2006), Artistic Director of Riga Cathedral Girls` Choir TIARA, Artistic Director of female Choir DZINTARS, Artistic Director of Ogre Female Choir RASA, Producer and Artistic Director of Ogre Music Festival Manager of Riga Female Choirs and Ogre District Choirs, Expert of Latvian Choir Conductors, Council Chief conductor of Nation wide Latvian Song celebration.
Studies: Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music
Aira Birziņa is a never-ceasing, tireless, talented and highly enterprising tender of the Latvian choir music field. She is the initiator of many festivals, seminars and workshops in Latvia.
A dynamic and vital member of international choir contests and new choir music juries, a speaker in conferences and seminars – she has been active in tens and tens of activities in the world of music, including popularization of Latvian music in Japan. Aira Birziņa was the chief conductor of Latvian Nationwide Song Celebration (XXIII – 2003, XXIV – 2008, XXV - 2013). As a producer and the artistic director she organized the Ogre Music Festival. As expert she works in the Latvian Choir Conductors Council.The Latvian state has expressed its gratitude by awarding a gratuity of the Ministry of Culture for her work in the field of national culture (1999).