Normunds Šnē: ‘It has been a wonderful season!’

Normunds Šnē: ‘It has been a wonderful season!’
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014 . Conductor Normunds Šnē
Una Griškeviča
Chamber orchestra ‘Sinfonietta Riga’ has chosen works of three composers – Carl Vine, Romualds Kalsons and Franz Schubert for the conclusive concert of this season on May 10, inviting as a guest soloist the excellent clarinetist Egil Sheafer who has not been too often heard in Latvia. The artistic director of the orchestra, conductor Normunds Šnē says in conversation with cultural portal 'Riga 2014': this choice of music is in perfect accord, both, with sunny and summer-like weather at the moment and as final chord of a truly excellent season.

‘All these compositions are so different that perfectly fit in one program,’ Šnē adds, commenting his choice of musical repertoire – Carl Vain’s ‘Smith’s Alchemy’, Clarinet concert of Romualds Kalsons, composed in 1982, and Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B major, mentioning also that inviting Egil Sheafer as soloist of this concert was not chance decision.


‘Egil is Latvian musician, but – mostly tied to Danish quartet of brass instruments ‘Carion’, which is why I considered this a perfect moment to remind Riga’s audience of him. Te second most important reason was the fact that we have included Kalsons’ Clarinet concert in this program, which was created 30 years ago – in 1982. If our great master had known that, in 2013, there will be an interpret who plays it so fantastically, I think, he would feel honored,’ says Normunds Šnē, adding that Kalsons’ composition was very well received already then, and clarinetist Ģirts Pāže performed it Latvia and abroad. Then, there was pause in its concert history, but now I thin is the time when it must be heard again.’

Not prepared to give up

Asked to assess the season, which is concluding, conductor says that it has been surprisingly successful. ‘We left Latvia last autumn to play in Munich, in the prestigious Hercules hall and in New York, in Lincoln Center, together with radio Quire Latvia. We earned a possibility to perform in these famous concert halls thanks to a range of successful recordings we had made.

‘But every program has been very deeply thought through and special this season, which is why I cannot single out one particular event. Our orchestra is in constant development, and that seems to be the most important to me.’


And yet there is also a less pleasant theme to touch – the insufficient funding, which Normunds Šnē characterizes as shameful, as professional musicians who have dedicated long years to education and perfection of their skills, now, employed by a state orchestra, fall short of being able to support themselves. ‘But I am not prepared to give up and leave the orchestra. We have a pact amongst the musicians to stay together whatever comes – for as long as possible. I have never even considered abandoning ‘Sinfonietta Riga,’ as this work is very important to me, and we have invested so much energy in it that it would be madness – to back out of it now.’


Concert life will continue to be active

Although ‘Sinfonietta Riga’ will close the season on Friday, conductor underlines that it will not rest on its laurels, but will progressively participate in a large variety of musical projects. ‘We have several recordings planned – for entire orchestra as well as for chamber ensembles; we will play in Cēsis Art festival, in Song and Dance festival and in Rundāle Early Music event. Then, we take a short summer break, followed by a festival in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, then it is the turn of concerts  in Finland, then, a short pause again, and then the next season will have already arrived,’ Normunds Šnē recounts the program of the year, reminding that orchestra will also participate in several events and concerts of Riga – European Capital of Culture in 2014. ‘I regret to say that one of our ideas failed to gain the support, but we will play in ‘Riga Festival’ and in a range of other projects,’ conductor confirms.


‘Our audiences who follows our ideas and concerts is so wonderful, and I want to thank it warmly for this, for the triangle – music, artists and listeners – would be incomplete without them,’ Normunds Šnē finds in conclusion of our conversation and adds smiling: hopefully, the new season will also see new listeners in the concerts of ‘Sinfonietta Riga’. ‘We have an audience of our own, which we are grateful for, but we are working on lots of new material, and our reserves are far from exhausted!’ conductor promises.


Comments open for registered users only!