This year Cēsis Art Festival’s focus is sound, so when the tactile senses are limited due to COVID-19 pandemic we may train our hearing and listening skills.
“Surprisingly enough but we have managed to make the Festival as rich and eventful as ever. Our art section is no smaller, we have full music programme, including the grand gala at the Castle Park, we have film screenings and theatre performances as usual. And, the most importantly, nothing of it comes remotely or digitally. Everything will happen face to face with real artwork and real performers, though we will be, of course, thoroughly following the public health instructions and regulations regarding cultural events. Thanks to the confidence and stability of our supporters, we shall gradually try to ‘defrost’ and re-enter the world of art and music,” comments Juris Žagars, the director of the Festival.
“Cēsis Art Festival has always been subtle; it’s not characterised by irrational crowding. That convinced us as Festival’s longstanding patrons to lend our support and help also this year. At the same time, we are aware that this time both the Festival and our own activities will be different due to the concerns for public health safety,” explains Ieva Tetere, the chairwoman of the SEB Bank.
“We didn’t even allow such a thought of the Festival not happening this year! Despite the hardships caused by the pandemic and affecting us all, our support to the Festival has remained unchanged. People need art and they need to be present to enjoy it! The Festival allows people to come, to look, to delve into and ‘to get lost’ in emotions and art!” says Laura Keršule, the vice president of the Latvijas Mobilais Telefons company.
Art section’s principal exhibition, titled Sound We Hear. Space We See, will be on view from July 25 till August 28 at Cēsis Contemporary Art Centre. Exhibition is curated by Daiga Rudzāte and Žanete Skarule. Works by Kaspars Groševs, Pēteris Līdaka, Artūrs Punte & Jēkabs Voļtovskis, Krišs Salmanis, Kristaps Ģelzis & Ģirts Bišs reveal the immensely spacious nature of sound and its almost unlimited effect on people’s imagination, as well as depict the sound as extremely influential part of the space, leaving associative imprints on our memory. The artworks make a mutually complementing whole where the story continues from one object to another. The exposition also includes sound object Detox and Healing for the Planet, executed by the art and culture portal Arterritory.com and dedicated to the issues highlighted by the crisis.
On the Festival’s opening night on July 25 the celebrated Latvian youth choir Kamēr… invites the audience to an adventurous musical performance featuring a special a capella programme, performed at a special place – on the left bank of the river Gauja. After some period of silence, the choir renews its performing schedule with music inspired by the beauty of Latvian natural landscape. The programme includes pieces by Latvian contemporary composers: Pēteris Vasks, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Rihards Dubra, Andris Dzenītis, Selga Mence, and Valts Pūce.
Music section of the Festival continues with choral music concert Paradise Chants. Bruckner and Latvians on July 31 at Cēsis St. John’s church. Latvian Radio Choir, conductor Sigvards Kļava, organ player Kristīne Adamaite and harpist Jekaterina Suvorova join forces in sacred music programme featuring Anton Bruckner’s motets and spiritual pieces by Latvian composers Maija Einfelde, Tālivaldis Ķeniņš and Santa Ratniece.
The Festival’s grand open-air gala Black & White with Shostakovich brings together two geniuses and two forms of art – Dmitri Shostakovich’s music and Buster Keaton’s film. The first part of the programme features Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 performed by the brilliant Latvian pianist Reinis Zariņš and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andris Poga. Concerto, composed in 1933, is famous for its rich and witty use of musical quotations and parodies from Beethoven’s Appasionata to the Viennese folk song Oh, du lieber Augustin.
For the second part Andris Poga and composer Arturs Maskats have created a special compilation, mostly from Shostakovich’s early film music, to accompany the famous Buster Keaton’s silent comedy Sherlock Jr. (1924)
The gala will take place on August 8 at the Cēsis Castle Park.
Art gallery of Cēsis Concert Hall will feature exhibition Agenda by the finalists of the SEB Scholarship in Painting competition. This competition for the art students is held every year; this year’s topic is agenda – one’s personal, national, or global agenda to reflect upon. The winner of the Scholarship will be announced at the opening of the exhibition on July 25.
Theatre programme, this year curated by the critic Zane Radzobe, will take place from August 14 till 23 at the Cēsis Concert Hall. It features three outstanding theatre productions from the last season. A special performance The Tallest Latvian Actors Play Basketball, dedicated to Silvija Radzobe, the renowned Latvian theatre critic and the theatre curator of the Cēsis Festival who passed away this spring, will be the highlight of the programme.
The Festival’s film programme, also titled Sound We See. Space We Hear, will feature four sound related films selected by the Latvian philosopher Uldis Tīrons. The programme includes such classics as Fritz Lang’s M (1931), F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), Jacques Tati’s Les vacances de Monsier Hulot (1953), as well as The Culprit (1979), a little gem by the Latvian director Arvīds Krievs. The films will be screened every Saturday of August in the yard of Cēsis Contemporary Art Centre.