Celebrating Jázeps Vītolas’ 160th Anniversary Year at the Music Academy

“My whole life has been variations on the theme – fatherland Latvia,” said Jāzeps Vītols – composer, founder of the Latvian Conservatory, professor who shook hands with every student in greeting, never used a textbook in his classes, gave all the material from memory, kept the lessons in Latvian, but when correcting assignments, talk to each student in a language they understand. On Sunday, March 19, the Academy of Music celebrated Jásep’s Day, where students and teaching staff celebrated the 160th anniversary of Jásep Vītola.

In the Academy of Music, where Vitols also lived for a while, there is a room that still stores Vitols’ manuscripts, book collection and his belongings.

Laura Švītiņa, research assistant of the JVLMA Research Center, said: “Currently, we are working on the concept of this space, so that it can be reborn and become accessible. And these materials that are stored here, especially manuscripts, pieces that could be performed. Maybe someone is interested, Vītola Celebrating the 160th anniversary, perform some lesser-heard pieces from the manuscripts, then you can go to the library of the Academy of Music and learn about these manuscripts, they can be received and performed.”

Perhaps quite unconsciously, the basic idea of ​​this time’s Jáseps Day concert has become the congratulation of Vitols’ own students on the anniversary of their work, in which all budding composers of that time have joined together in a joint work. Also at Sunday’s concert, the main event was the premiere of four pieces dedicated to Jázep Vītol by the young composers. One of the rules was to include something from Willow himself.

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“Wonderful feelings! Wonderful young artists who grew into this music in a very short time. I think that for everyone who has graduated from the Academy of Music, the first thing from Jázep Vitols [nāk prātā], is the “Castle of Light”. I already had a clear vision, all that was left was to gradually build him with the orchestra. The motif of Jázep Vītola’s “Castle of Light” has always been interwoven there, but the main message is that we ourselves can create that light in ourselves, even from the smallest spark,” said percussionist, composer Ernests Mediņš.

Gaitis Jānis Pujāts allowed two precious stones, which Vītols himself did not include in the suite “Dārgakmeņi”, to shine in the sound of the orchestra, creating “Dzintara” for jazz ensemble and symphony orchestra. Aleksandrs Avramets has included two concepts in the core of his work – reflection and sapphire.

“This idea of ​​connecting with Vitol took a bit of thinking at the beginning, and we were asked to connect something with jazz and bring it all together, it was a challenge and you had to think, but in the end, I think we managed to find an unadulterated way to put it together and show in music,” noted composer Alexander Avramets.

I wonder what Professor Vitols would say about the new composers?

Aleksandr Avramets argues: “We know that Vitols was to some extent quite a conservative-minded person, especially as the head of the academy. I think that if he was brought back today in a time machine, he would have realized that life has moved on, and I think he would be happy with the diversity of these pieces and these students that they are able to bring out of themselves, and I think he would have positive thoughts.”

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