The Latvian Radio Choir (LRC) ranks among the top professional chamber choirs in Europe and its refined taste for musical material, fineness of expression and vocal of unbelievably immense compass have charted it as a noted brand on the world map. Since 1992, LRC has two conductors – Sigvards Kļava, Music Director and Principal Conductor; and Kaspars Putniņš.
The repertoire of LRC ranges from the Renaissance music to the most sophisticated scores by modern composers; and it could be described as a sound laboratory – the singers explore their skills by turning to the mysteries of traditional singing, as well as to the art of quartertone and overtone singing and other sound production techniques. The choir has established a new understanding of the possibilities of a human voice; one could also say that the choir is the creator of a new choral paradigm: every singer is a distinct individual with his or her own vocal signature and roles in performances. The expertise of singers has made LRC a remarkably flexible ensemble able to deal with vocal and instrumental music, as well as with opera performances, multi-media projects, intimate a capella talks, and theatrical shows where singers can express themselves as soloists and talented actors.
LRC concert programmes are always well-considered and reared musical messages – there are Sacred Chants, Night Prayer, Meeting in Music, Evening Conversations at St. John’s, and various projects with contemporary composers among them. Every year, the choir commissions about ten new works from Latvian composers. The choir actively popularizes the music of Latvian composers around the world. The choir’s recordings of works by Ēriks Ešenvalds, Kristaps Pētersons, and Mārtiņš Viļums have won each of them first prizes at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. LRC is one of the four founders and the partner of the European professional chamber choirs’ association Tenso. In 2010 LRC was proud to complete the international overtone singing project Consrescence curated by Lasse Thoresen.
The choir has participated in the top international musical forums in Salzburg and Montpellier, the Baltic Sea Festival, Klangspuren Festival, La Musica, Ultima, the Venice Biennale, White Light Festival USA, Soundstreams in Canada; and performed in renowned concert halls such as the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, Konzerthaus in Berlin, and Cité de la Musique in Paris, Lincoln Center in New York and Dresden Frauenkirche. Latvian Radio Choir performed in the Grand Hall of Elbphilharmonie in the first month of its opening together with Sinfonietta Rīga chamber orchestra. LRC has successfully worked with many outstanding guest conductors, including Riccardo Muti, Heinz Holliger, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Stephen Layton, Tõnu Kaljuste, James Wood, and Essa-Pekka Salonen, among others. The Latvian Radio Choir records on a regular basis. Every season, three or four new CDs appear in collaboration with such labels as Hyperion Records, BIS, GB Records, Ondine, and Naïve.
Released on the ECM label, the Estonian composer Arvo Part's opus Adam's Lament received the prestigious Grammy for the ''Best choral performance'': LRC along with the chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, the ensemble Vox Clamantis, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra took part in the recording under the baton of Tõnu Kaljuste.
Among the most valued recordings is Sergey Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil (praised by the renowned music magazine Gramophone as the best recording in February 2013 and ranked as one of the 25 best albums of the year by American radio NPR). The choir has also participated in the recording of the album by Elīna Garanča that was released by one of the world’s most respectable and oldest recording companies Deutsche Grammophon in October 2014.
The choir has been awarded the most esteemed musical prize in Latvia, the Latvian Music Grand Prix, nine times in total (in 1994, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015). In autumn 2014 LRC also received the Award of the Cabinet of Ministers – the highest official award for the outstanding contribution in Latvian music and achievements on the international stage.
LRC was founded in 1940 by one of the legendary Latvian choir conductors Teodors Kalniņš, who led the choir till the end of his days in 1962. Another important period in LRC history is connected with Edgars Račevskis – he was music director in 1963–1986. In 1987 – 1992 the post of LRC Music Director was held by Juris Kļaviņš, who invited Sigvards Kļava to become assistant conductor.