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Concert: Latvians in Lakewood

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Previously on Wednesday, October 3rd, we had attended one program that concerned economic development and another that concerned free speech. These were both interesting topics but our minds cried for rest and we were happy to attend this next outing that allowed us to sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves while listening to beautiful music: a concert at the United Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in celebration of Latvia's Centennial.

Latvians certainly have a right to celebrate, as they have maintained their identity through so much upheaval; the past hundred years have certainly been tumultuous for the Latvian people. After centuries of domination by foreign powers, Latvia became independent from the Russian Empire following World War One. Not long after, however, they were again occupied by Soviet Russia in 1940. Apart from occupation by Germany during World War II, Soviet rule remained until the fall of the USSR. Latvians are now independent and members of the European Union.

This amazing concert featured the combined talents of two very prominent artists on tour from Latvia, Ms. Maija Kovalevska who sang soprano as Dr. Dzintra Erliha accompanied her on the piano.
(For bios of these very talented people see https://maijakovalevska.com/biography/ and http://www.dzintraerliha.com/about/)

Organized primarily by the Latvian National Opera guide, the repertoire featured Ms. Kovalevska singing romantic love songs by renowned Latvian composers like Jazeps Vitols. Dr. Erliha accompanied her beautifully and then treated us to solo piano performances in which she played selections from such composers as Lucija Garuta.

Our friend and colleague, Mr. George Koussa, was present, and we agreed that it didn't matter that Ms. Kovalevska performed the songs in Latvian, a language that we do not know, because beautiful music has a way of transcending such barriers.

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Prior to the start of the concert, we chatted with a person sitting next to us named Kim who said he knew Ms. Kovalevska personally and considered her "one of the best in the world."

Although we are not authorities on music, all we can say is that we had a most enjoyable evening thanks to the efforts of Ms. Kovalevska, Dr. Erliha, and those who organized their U.S. concert tour particularly this stop in Lakewood.

The performers were introduced by Ms. Zenta Apinis, the president of the church council who said that "Maija and Dzintra have brought us a very special, memorable, and heartfelt gift of song and music from our dear Latvia on the celebration of 100 years of independence as a nation." Ms. Apinis went on to say, "Latvia and the Baltic countries recognize the importance of a music culture. Latvians are a people who sing and Latvia is a land that sings. Life without song and dance celebrations cannot be imagined. We embrace all the classical arts-literature, painting, theatre, symphonic music, architecture, ballet, and film."

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Justin Faulhaber