“Bach’s Music Is Beyond Time” - Uģis Brikmanis

“Bach’s Music Is Beyond Time” - Uģis Brikmanis
Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014 . Stage director Uģis Brikmanis
Una Griškeviča
When commenting on all three Bach Passions on the 4th, 11th and 18th of April, Stage Director Uģis Brikmanis, the curator of the “Thirst for the Ocean” thematic line of the “Riga 2014” Programme, emphasises that this is the most important event in the thematic line he oversees: “I’m happy that the passions will be recorded to mark 2014 as a year when all Bach Passions were performed by the Latvian Radio Choir. This will set a new benchmark for the next generations and us, too, in terms of ideas and professional capacity.”

“Of course, we were short of resources, and eventually no one volunteered to submit the project “The Unique Ecumenical Culture of Riga”. However, the associative representation of all four gospels will also indicate that we don’t just stop at sacred service. Here, existence is perceived spatially, indicating that we live among four constants. A number of things are the most important here: the way we think, perceive  existence, the things we have experienced – from a regime to freedom, as well as the musical and professional capacity at the highest level,” Uģis Brikmanis comments on the Bach’s three passions and the Luke Passion composed by Ēriks Ešenvalds.

Why is Bach given so much attention in the “Thirst for the Ocean” thematic line? He features prominently in the “Windstream” festival, there are these performances of Bach’s Passions, as well as the summer programme “Organ Music in the Sign of BACH” that opens on the 16th of May! “The main task for this thematic line is to make room for those projects that generate personalities, not to create a story about the thirst for the ocean – that is of no importance.

Here we have a number of projects that are associated with Bach, for instance, the spring festival “Windstream” with a competition for new compositions, which generated a great response, then the passions and, of course, organ music.”

In Brikmanis’ opinion, we are still rich in personalities, and he considers this to be very important because, seeing the beginnings of a new era, a lack of unique and inimitable personalities in the future is a great cause of concern. “We will have different resources in terms of organisational capacity, materials, experience, etc., therefore I am pleased that it is my thematic line that offers concerts, exhibitions and campaigns marked by the presence of personalities, that young people who will attend will witness outstanding personalities’ perspectives, interpretations, and readings. My task is to simply make room for them.”

By paying such great attention specifically to Bach, the curator of the “Thirst for the Ocean” thematic line took the liberty of being completely subjective. “This is, in a way, a code or a key. We could not make  a quality project on Müthel [Riga resident Johann Gottfried Müthel (1728–1788) was Bach’s last pupil], that’s something that Riga will have to do in the future, and do it very well in order to explain Müthel’s important role. Besides, Bach is beyond time, beyond music, he is more than just music. The word “Bach” does not only serve to denote baroque music, it is something much more than that, furthermore, it is in line with contemporary mentality. This word does not simply embody spiritual values or the values of a museum, but rather the endless process of life, presence in art, the live thought and live process, not the copying and pasting of hardened values.”

Uģis Brikmanis believes that he can best see all of that simply in those people who come to St. John’s Church and listen to complicated music: “I am pleased that this audience is not made up of people in sleek suits, but that these are people who understand the eternity of such music.”

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