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Baltic autumn solstice fest "The Baltic Sun",
Riga, 21 September 2003

People start to gather

      The morning of September 21 has pleased Rigans with a warm sun of Indian summer. But the greatest pleasure it has afforded to organizers, participants and spectators of the fest The Baltic Sun: from the both sides - the river Daugava, in the middle - a meadow of the Hares' island, and above - the sun.

The openings of the fest

      The fest began by orations and joint singing near a symbolical "boat", created from stones. Speeches was made by Dainis Stalts, the minister of defense Girts Kristovskis and representatives of the Lithuanian embassy and the Estonian society. They spoke, basically, about the positive result in yesterday's referendum about joining the European Union. As a third of citizens has voted against joining, such overdone and biassed politicalisation of speeches looked inappropriate.

Soldiers treat participants

      The visit of the minister of defense was not casual - army of Latvia has helped to organizers of the fest by different sort of a support: from granting army tents for changing clothes up to feeding of participants on a field kitchen.

Dinaburg Lithuanian society

      After solemn opening the action has moved to the stage. By first performed representatives of Dinaburg Lithuanian society. They sang folk songs and romances, both with and without accompaniment.

"Made in Zarasai"

      With the group has arrived also a squeeze-box player from Lithuanian city Zarasai, who recently started to make squeeze-boxes himself - we shall tell honourly, of very original construction, from details of old squeeze-boxes of other types.


      Vilki sang soldiers' songs. Though on the stage there was no the leader, the group sang as confidently, as always.

Chorus of the Riga Estonian society

      The chorus of the Riga Estonian society was a real chorus: with a conductor, a choral manner of singing and a choral repertoir. And, though they not met to a folklore concert, clear, pleasant singing and quiet, solar weather made this discrepancy almost imperceptible.


      Trejasmens sang rather weakly, was felt an uncertainty. It is interesting, that, as against other ensembles of soldier's songs, in Trejasmens sing some women too.

Battle of knights

      On the last song Skandinieki have joined Trejasmens, and in accompaniment of Livonian song a struggle of two knights was shown.


      Skandinieki have sung one strong, loud song from every region of Latvia.


      Vilcenes were without traditional clothes. Sounded briskly, unfortunately - with false notes at times.


      Vilkači have confidently performed soldiers' and joint-work's songs. Ensemble looks as a strong and perspective collective, though it has not yet grown until independent creation of the repertoir.

Dancing collective of the Riga Lithuanian society

Where will you meet such beauties?

Though there were a lot of beer barrels, lads have devastated them very quickly

Contest in bow shooting

Do you have not a personal sign? Don't worry, a computer will create it!

      As some participants of group Kala jeng were late, the concert was to be interrupted. During the break roundels and dancings were played, knights' battles were showed, a contest in a bow shooting were carried out, and, also, participants were treated with some beer.


      In one hour the concert has restarted - Auļi appeared on the scene. Rattle of drums and humming of bagpipes was same loud as in Vendene, but musical qualitaty looked even progressed: pipes on two voices, bagpipes' groups' call-overs, solos of drummers.

Were no more hares on the Hares' island. But there were traces of beavers' work. Maybe it is time to rename the island?

      Kala jeng sang Livonian songs. This one differed from other performances by a skilful playing of an Estonian violinist, participant of ensemble Raud ants.

Raud ants

      After a small break began the second part - a concert of pagan metal. By first performed an Estonian ensemble Raud ants: the "main staff" of metallists (electroguitar, electrical bass guitar, drums), singer, psalterist and already mentioned violinist. Basically the songs was arrangements of folk songs, in which a melodical maiden singing was supplemented by series of men's howling. The group looks like "glued", i.e., it was not as a single unit, but as separate, combined together musicians (the violinist played, but was not shown really; the girl sang mediocrely; the guitar player howled opportunely and inopportunely).


      The second was Lithuanian Žalvarinis; except the "main staff" there were three singers - one lad (which played bagpipes too) and two girls. The ensemble, as opposed to the previous, was a real ensemble: everyone had a place and a role. Repertoir - Lithuanian folk songs, singed in traditional vocal manner, but with metallic accompaniment; as against other groups, the singing was melodious and nice. Besides collective was positivly disposed - conversation with spectators was hearty, with a pleasant smile in voices.


      Estonian Metsatoll consist of four fellows - the "main staff" and a musician who plays folk instruments (bagpipe, psaltery, guimbarde, pipe etc.), a second electroguitar and sings a second voice (first voice sings the guitar player). Sounded interesting, was felt a creative approach, however, plans was bigger than possibilties, the singing sometimes was false. It is pleasant, that the musicians did not yelled, but only cried out something from time to time.

      Lithuanian Obtest were real yellers. They have fully made the image of "little monsters", especially the singer, who fidgeted for a whole time, raised the foot of the microphone, made awful physiognomies and, certainly, howled with all strength. In the program there was nothing traditional - neither melodies, nor tools, only in lyrics there was a paganic orientation ("ancient gods wish" etc.).

      The concert has finished a local ensemble Skyforger, which has conceived the performance as a presentation of the new album Thunderforge; therefore the majority of songs there were from this album, i.e. - arrangements of folk songs. In the staff of group - a singer/guitar player, joined in singing bass guitar player, a guitar player and a drummer. Chaps played well, even very well. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell something good about the singing - basically it was yelling, howling and hissing, but in scarce cases, when the singer started to sing, we found out that both the voice and the ear are mediocre. During the performance suddenly began to lighten and to rain, that was very in time because of thundered subjects of the songs; in my opinion, it was by coincidence, though, who knows, maybe really they bewitched it?

      We noticed an interesting tendency: the better participants were able to sing, the less they yelled and howled. Maybe a real reason of yelling is wishing to hide vocal lacks? Or, on the contrary - people, caring about her voice, don't want to torment it by an unnatural howling?
      Almost all participants of the second part used a dishonest musical method - a stuning of listeners by immoderate luodness of sound. It, certainly, is characteristic of other genres of modern music too (if are used electricity-dependent instruments), including popular music. On mine, performers should give to listeners an opportunity to catch and to experience the music, instead of stupifying by loudness. Actually, it is a speculation at the health of listeners, and it is not worthy.
      Because of laziness of organizers the concert was not translated, therefore the ensembles coped themselfs: Estonians spoke in English, Lithuanians - in Russian. Certainly, it was a violation of law, but it is not the most important side of it. Mainly, it was an disrespectful attitude to the listeners.
      Was sad to observe, how during the evening concert glade inevitably filled with stubs and empty bottles (including broken ones).
      In the whole the fest was successful both from musical (a plenty of participants, a lot of impressions), natural (place and weather were perfect), and social (an overlapping of different musical styles develops audiences of boths) points of view. Thanks to the participants, organizers and supporters!

      Article: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš, 24 September 2003
      Photos: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš

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