On March 21 and 22, 2023, the Latvian Radio Choir will perform in Barcelona, at the concerts the choir will play Sergej Rachmaninov's Vespers and Ramon Umet's opus Light (Llum) under the direction of artistic director Sigvards Kļavas.
The genius Russian melodicist Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespers is one of the cornerstones of 20th-century sacred music. The orchestral and impressive arrangement of voices contains the true core of the Russian Orthodox Church. Vespers are based on impressions that Rachmaninov collected from folklore, Russian Orthodox music, and the sound of church bells. The opus consists of 15 parts. Rachmaninov based nine of them on traditional Russian Orthodox chants; the remaining six are his own interpretations of motifs characteristic of Russian Church music
The Latvian Radio Choir’s 2013 recording of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespers gained widespread international acclaim; the prestigious publication Gramophone named it the Recording of the Month in February 2013, while the American radio station NRP added it to their top 25 albums of the year. In the summer of 2017, the Latvian Radio Choir debuted in the BBC Proms festival with their rendition of Rachmaninov’s Vespers.
The Barcelona native Ramon Humet’s (1968) music is frequently characterized as being atemporal, luminous, colorful, very meditative and organic. One of his teachers and biggest influences, the outstanding British composer Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012) commented that “Ramon Humet’s music is delicate and subtle, with high poetic imagination. Humet is a hope for the future; he has a fine ear, and a spirit full of light.” The musical catalog of this Catalan music maker is wide and diverse – chamber music is followed by electroacoustic opuses and stage works, and large-form orchestral scores sit beside emotionally charged vocal pieces, including choir music.
The inspiration for Ramon Humet’s composition Llum was Vicenç Santamaria, a monk of the Monastery of Montserrat who practices an ascetic life of solitude in deep devotion to God. This monk who is also a close friend of the composer has authored the text of this composition. The verses picked by Humet recount seven important steps in Vicenç Santamaria’s spiritual journey. The composition begins with a lullaby, inviting the audience to close their eyes; it’s followed by a mystical passacaglia that sparks self-reflection. A peaceful chant of souls grows into a story about the ups and downs of life so familiar to everyone. These worries are fought away by faithful and hopeful praises of God and a message of peace settling into the heart.