Latvia's Rigas Ritmi Festival Now Brings Jazz To The Baltics Year Round

Starting in April with an exquisite line-up of international artists.

Antje Huebner

SPRING SEASON: April 26 - 28, 2012
SUMMER SEASON: July 4 - July 7, 2012
WINTER SEASON: December 1 - 9, 2012

New York, April 23, 2012 - Rigas Ritmi ("Rigas Rhythms"), the annual jazz festival in Riga, Latvia, is proud to announce the addition of two programming seasons in spring and winter. The festival will now feature international musicians year round.

Often considered the music of freedom, jazz has enjoyed special significance in occupied Latvia. After Latviaʼs independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Riga began spreading the jazz gospel by openly promoting this most American art form. It proved to have great benefits for both natives and tourists.

In 2001 Artistic Director and first-call jazz drummer Maris Briezkalns created the Rigas Ritmi Festival, which has since developed into an important jazz destination on the European jazz circuit. It is a showpiece among the Baltic nations, featuring an expansive view of jazz, honoring music drawn from a variety of cultures, including home-grown artists.

Venues of all sizes abound, throughout the city - including the 1200 seat Congress Center, the intimate Club Artelis, the Cinema Splendid Palace, the Origo Summer Stage and the Open Air Leisure Park. This yearʼs featured artists include Christian McBride, Lizz Wright, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Marc Ducret, Hiromi,Victor Bailey, Antonio Ciacca, Nils Wogram, Buika, Youn Sun Nah, Kurt Elling, and urban tango group Astillero, among others. Past performers have included Diane Reeves, Bobby McFerrin, Richard Bona, Patti Austin, Alfredo Rodriguez, Till Brönner and The Yellowjackets.

A major focus of the festival centers on jazz education. Rigas Ritmiʼs mission is to educate and cultivate the next generation of jazz musicians and audiences. This is achieved through workshops and masterclasses. Festival artists Victor Bailey, Nils Wogram, Antonio Ciacca and the Astillero group will lead such workshops as well as vocal teacher Dominique Eade. The Latvian radio station provides the setting.

Once again the festival will host a Rigas Ritmi Showcase highlighting local jazz talent. A panel of invited authorities - covering territories as diverse as Israel, USA, Belgium, Italy and Ireland - will evaluate these artists. Featured among these musicians are the ethno jazz group The Laima Jansone Trio, City Jazz Big Band, guitarist Matiss Cudars Quartet and North by Northeast. Other participating Latvian musicians include The Carl Winther Trio and Canvas Roussel. Due to recent showcase collaborations, a unique project has evolved between American bass legend Victor Bailey and the Latvian City Jazz Big Band. They will honor the memories of Joe Zawinul & Jaco Pastorius.

Riga, the largest city of the Baltics with a beautiful seaport, was founded more than 800 years ago. Because of its long history and year-round navigable harbor, it boasts a rich heritage of influences and nationalities. Riga was a major member of the Hanseatic League. The city has the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings, making it the Art Nouveau capital of Europe, and its historic center is a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This proves as the perfect backdrop for a musical stroll through different centuries and architectural styles.

Now designated by the European Union, Riga is getting ready to be the European Capital of Culture in 2014, emphasizing once more its role as an important cultural hub among Baltic countries. Latvia borders Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania.

For further info, please visit Rigas Ritmi Festivalʼs website:

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Antje Huebner