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“Cēsis 2021” Art Festival Programme Announced

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Press release, 17th June 2021

“Cēsis 2021” Art Festival Programme Announced

On 10 July this year, the fifteenth Cēsis Art Festival, dedicated to myths and rituals, will open to the public. On the opening day, the Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art will be launching a vast exhibition “Flying Closer to the Sun. Myths and Rituals” showcasing seven new large-scale works by Latvian artists. A sound and motion act “Danse macabre” (“The Dance of Death”), created by composer Edgars Mākens and artist Krišs Salmanis, will be performed at 20:00. The festival will close with a performance of the third act of Richard Wagner’s “The Valkyrie” on the open-air stage of the Cēsis Castle Park.

“The central theme of the festival this year is “Myths and Rituals”. Myths have always been present in the realm of culture. Throughout history, humanity has been resorting to myths to find explanations to existential questions while simultaneously generating ever new myths. When creating this programme, we saw our current age as a great time to unravel and recreate myths and rituals. We are doing this both with the exhibition and the musical performances. We are proud to be able to offer the spectators an encounter with one of the myths on the open-air stage at the Cēsis Medieval Castle Park where Richard Wagner’s “The Valkyrie” will be performed on 14th August by excellent and internationally acclaimed Wagnerian solo performers. Conducted by Andris Poga and directed by Viesturs Kairišs, it is expected to be an unforgettable occasion,” elaborated Juris Žagars, the director of the festival.

The Cēsis Art Festival is scheduled to open on 10th July, at 20:00 with a sound and motion performance in the courtyard of the Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art “Danse macabre” (“The Dance of Death”) inviting the viewers into a world of unusual soundscapes and visual effects. The puppet ballet, Death with an electric guitar, the musical saw, the mystery of sound and the burlesque of movement – just like in the olden days when the dance of death was a societal mechanism for blowing off steam. The creator of the choreography for the show is Rūdolfs Gediņš.

The idea for the project was conceived by composer Edgars Mākens and artist Krišs Salmanis. The recipient of Latvia’s annual theatre award “Spēlmaņu nakts” (“The Players' Night”) Edgars Mākens has composed for numerous theatre plays and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra pieces for children, as well as written and played for bands like “Hospitāļu iela”, “Gaujarts”, “Manta”. Krišs Salmanis, widely known both in Latvia and abroad, represented Latvia at the 55th Venice Biennale, and in 2017, alongside Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons received the Purvītis Prize in art. The longstanding partner and general sponsor of the festival, “Latvijas Mobilais Telefons”, will be offering the “Danse macabre” performance to a wider audience by streaming this music event on the LMT Streaming Service and Smart TV.

From 10th July, the Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art will be offering an exhibition “Flying Closer to the Sun. Myths and Rituals” with new works from renowned Latvian artists: Aija Zariņa, Miķelis Fišers, Andris Eglītis, Ģirts Muižnieks, Krista and Reinis Dzudzilo, Katrīna Neiburga and Vika Eksta. With its title borrowed from the book “Flying Closer to the Sun” by the historian and art curator James Cahill, the exhibition studies the impact of myth and mythology on contemporary culture. It is intended as a selection of works of art creating a storyline exploring myths and phenomena that have captured the attention of contemporary artists and inspired their devotion to discovery. The exhibition is curated by Daiga Rudzāte and will be open for visitors at the Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art until 15th August.

The Cēsis Art Festival programme traditionally features a grand musical performance on the open-air stage at the Cēsis Castle Park. This year it is the concert performance of the third act of Richard Wagner’s “The Valkyrie” scheduled for 14th August, 21:00. “The Valkyrie”, the second of the four music dramas that constitute “The Ring of Nibelung”, is one of Richard Wagner’s most famous operas. It is a story about the love and hate relationship between gods and humans, imbued with grand passions and high ideals. The main characters of the opera will be played by the world-famous Wagnerian opera singers Catherine Foster, Liene Kinča and Egils Siliņš. The Valkyries will be played by the solo singers of the Latvian National Opera, all accompanied by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andris Poga.

Since 2001, the British opera singer Catherine Foster has been performing solos for the German National Theatre in Weimar. Her portfolio includes many famous opera characters, the most recent being the role of Brunhilde in three operas of the Ring cycle performed at the opera houses in Hamburg, Budapest, Weimar, and the Aalto Theater in Essen. This will also not be the first time the Latvian bass-baritone Egilas Siliņš will be performing“The Valkyrie” – in 2019, he played the main character of Votan at Teatro di San Carlo Italy’s oldest opera house in Naples. Liene Kinča had her debut in the Latvian National Opera in 2005 and has twice – in 2011 and 2013– received the annual “Latvijas Gāze” (Latvian Gas Company) Opera Award for Best Solo Singer. The concert is directed by Viesturs Kairišs whose successful work with Wagner’s operas began in 2007 and has introduced him to the international stage.

On 31st July, at 19:00, the Cēsis St. John's Church will host the “Debespulkstenis” (“Heavenclock”) concert. The performance will feature saxophonist Aigars Raumanis, percussionist Ernests Mediņš and organist Aigars Reinis. The sublime acoustics of the church will be complimenting the beautiful pieces by Latvian composers Alfrēds Kalniņš, Arturs Maskats, Platons Buravickis, Andris Dzenītis, Atis Stepiņš and Selga Mence.

Like every year, the festival will also have a cinema and theatre programme. In collaboration with the Cēsis Concert Hall, Dita Rietuma’s film selection “Myths and Rituals” will be screened. A cycle of plays Grand Prix is also intended to be performed. To see the timetables for the cinema and theatre programmes, the visitors are welcome to follow the festival website:

The Cēsis Art Festival is supported by SEB bank, the general sponsor “Latvijas Mobilais Telefons”, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the State Culture Capital Foundation, the Cēsis regional council, the Cēsis Concert Hall, as well as companies like „GroGlass“, “KOOL” and “Priekuļu bloks”.

The music events at the “Cēsis 2021” art festival – “Danse macabre” on 10th July, the “Heavenclock” on 31st July at the Cēsis St. John's Church, as well as the concert performance of the third act from Richard Wagner’s “The Valkyrie” – will all be open to vaccinated persons or persons that have recovered from Covid-19 producing a valid digital Covid-19 certificate. The exhibition “Flying Closer to the Sun. Myths and Rituals” will be open to all visitors complying with the official epidemiological safety measures issued by the government.

The tickets for the “Cēsis 2021” art festival will be available at the “Biļešu paradīze” box offices, online at, and in person at the venues. The festival, as usual, will be providing special discounts for senior citizens, students and teachers. The clients of SEB bank will also be offered a 10% discount for all festival events. You may learn more about the discounts available from the ticket providers and on the festival website.

To learn more about the “Cēsis 2021” art festival, follow and the festival Facebook page.



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