The composer, author of the music for the film “Blizzard of Souls”, arrived in Riga from Hollywood Lolita Ritmane, to record the soundtrack of director Daniel Kreitzberg’s animated short Tahlequah the Whale: A Dance of Grief at the Latvian radio studio together with host Amy Anderson and her husband, sound engineer Marks Matson. Their joint work – the Women Warriors: The Voices of Change album – received a Grammy Award in the “Best Classical Music Selection” category. The prestigious award was also received by the director of sound of the Latvian Radio Varis Kurminņš, who two years ago performed this recording in the 1st studio of the Latvian Radio, which was attended by the Latvian Musicians Orchestra and the Riga Dome female choir Choir School “Tiara”. In the Saturday morning program “Atspere” Liene Jakovļeva meets Lolita Ritmani talks about the topicality of her professional activity, recalling prestigious events Grammy moments of welcome and would mark the composer’s feelings in today’s world.
An intense and probably long and carefully prepared recording session awaits you in the 1st studio of the Latvian Radio. What do you intend to achieve?
I am very happy to collaborate with director Daniel Kreutzberg on an animated short film Thalequah the whale: a dance of pain.
He had listened though Warrior womenand the musical recordings of the movie “Storm of Souls”, in which charming Latvian musicians play, and it was clear to him that he wanted an orchestra to be in this film as well and to record it in Riga. Daniel thought these musicians performed the my music in such an expressive way that I wanted something so soulful to be present in his film as well.
Is the film premiere already scheduled for next year?
Yes, it has already been presented at some festivals with temporary music with my synthesized version, which will sound even better with a real orchestra.
I remember the conversation with you even before the premiere of “Storm of Souls”, when you remembered the first moments of meeting the orchestra in Riga and the slight feeling of fear and doubt. Is there now the confidence and security that everything will be fine?
I won’t say there is trust, but the feeling of security is created by sound director Varis Kurmiņš, who is excellent in his field. Varis and his team handle everything so perfectly and professionally that I never have to worry. I know, I’ll go into the studio and everything will be ready. Of course, thanks also to Māris Briežkalns for organizing the studio and to Edgar Saxons, who organized a large orchestra for us. I’m never nervous again, even rather sad, thinking – now this day of recording will begin, and eventually it will all be over and I will have to figure out the next project again. I’m almost addicted, I just need more of this Latvian orchestra! I could just live in a room here, compose and work with these wonderful musicians every day.
We have seen the one given to Varis Kurmiņas Grammy prize, also the photos of the presentation ceremony. How did you feel about receiving the Grammy Award? Was it surprising?
I don’t think that was the case, because this project definitely deserved it, not me. The project was very multifaceted and took a lot of work and love, and director Amy Anderson’s vision produced exactly what people wanted to hear. Many colleagues contacted me before voting and said this was just a great post. From a practical point of view, Amy had to spend a lot of money creating advertising because Grammy however, it is not automatically about what is best, as if it could be evaluated in this way.
But the moment they announced the results and Amy’s name came out, I felt like a rock, I was so happy! I took the stage in a semi-dream, then we were taken to take pictures, offered cocktails and gifts – I felt like a country girl in a dream world.
My kids had filmed live TV on their phones and the screams they heard when they announced our victory made me so happy. At that time, when I was on the nominee list for an Oscar nomination, but I didn’t get it, I was very angry that I let Latvia down, I was only in the top fifteen, instead of getting a nomination, now everyone will be angry and sad. But after receiving Grammy, I could breathe a sigh of relief and think – thank God. I brought my prize with me in my carry-on from Los Angeles now, because we wanted to take a picture with Vari. It is not about the ego, but more about the memory, because I am so sorry that Varis cannot be present in person for the award, he would have been lovely.
Grammy it’s a very important award, but it’s not the first in your range of awards. Where is everyone?
I have a small shelf with sheet music and awards, next to it is the “Kristap” award. Emmy – they get along so sweetly. They are not hidden behind glass and illuminated: they just live there and I don’t even look at them.
But are they useful when working?
When customers come to me, the rewards aren’t immediately apparent. They walk in, they look to the left – there are family photos, there is a piano and a synthesizer, then they also see a shelf – oh, Emmy and some men. Then I’ll tell you who “Kristaps” is. Now there is also Grammy prize. I don’t deny it, it strengthens public recognition a little, but it also creates stress, responsibility and the desire for something higher to some extent.
Rewards are obviously a very subjective thing and I have been very lucky with them. The time has come for me to start the third act of my life and I will try to write more and more what I feel in my heart and soul and want to show the world.
What are the feelings of this moment there, beyond the ocean, in this crazy year, in which the whole world is seething with the horrors of war?
When the war in Ukraine started, this was all that was shown on the news from morning to night. It’s gone now and I’m sad because I think people get used to it like it’s normal for something like this to happen. But of course there are also people who work all the time to help Ukraine. This is a very insecure phase for the whole world. I think the world is very polarized and people should understand that what’s east of here is very scary and very close to Latvia. We were flying from Los Angeles to Istanbul to go to Riga, and this huge detour to avoid flying over Ukraine cut me like a knife. It is a huge land where people die, people are killed and violence occurs. We must help Ukraine and its people and do everything to prevent such a thing from happening in Latvia.
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