Kolibri | Kolibri reminisces

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World: Eastern European Folk: Progressive Folk Moods: Type: Vocal
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Kolibri reminisces

by Kolibri

This vocal and instrumental album presents traditional Latvian folk music in contemporary arrangements with unique instrumental ensembles.
Genre: World: Eastern European
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Black Are My Colts
2:15 $0.99
2. "Rota" Song from Zvirgzdiene
1:40 $0.99
3. What Rumbles, What Thunders
1:34 $0.99
4. Dear Mother
1:35 $0.99
5. Lullaby
6:52 $0.99
6. You, Sister, and I, Sister
1:44 $0.99
7. Song of the Feast Day "Meteni"
2:38 $0.99
8. There Is Work To Do
2:07 $0.99
9. Children's Songs
1:14 $0.99
10. Get Dressed, Silvery Sun
1:54 $0.99
11. Scenes from Spring [excerpt]
4:34 $0.99
12. Chasing Away the Birds [excerpt]
2:28 $0.99
13. Carry Me Away Singing!
10:56 $0.99
14. Folk Dance
1:49 $0.99
15. The Shepherd's "Ligo" Song
2:13 $0.99
16. Gypsy Song
1:51 $0.99
17. Four Winter Solstice Songs
2:49 $0.99
18. A Silvery Rain Fell
1:53 $0.99
19. A Silvery Rain Fell
2:22 $0.99
20. A SIlvery Rain Fell
2:35 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The ensemble KOLIBRI is a striking and rather exotic bird in the world of Latvian music (Kolibri is the Latvian word for "humming-bird“). For more than 25 years it popularized Latvian music worldwide, following a professional musical path, not a folkloric one, nonetheless preserving an ethnic Latvian soul and sound. Why "Kolibri“? “Because it is a good-sounding, internationally understandable name. We liked the idea that we could give a voice to this tiny, silent bird that travels great distances searching for the most beautiful flowers and the sweetest nectar“ explain members of the ensemble.
Most of the original members of KOLIBRI were professional musicians who were also active in other Latvian and American musical groups. The ensemble was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1976. Among the first members were the brothers Peteris and Martins Aldins, Anita Kupriss, Juris Broks, the sisters Laila and Lalita Salins, Liga Aldins, Laura Padegs, Imants Mezaraups, Peteris Ozols, Janis Sils, and Ruta Dambis-Ruice. Later they were joined by Pamela Ambrose, Silvija Padegs, and Andris Levensteins. “Very talented artists!," acknowledged La Nouvelle République, France. Although the personnel of the group changed, its nucleus remained strong, especially due to the active presence of its four composers, Peteris and Martins Aldins, Anita Kupriss, and Imants Mezaraups.
KOLIBRI performed classical, sacred, and popular repertoire, but they were especially renowned for their Latvian folk song arrangements that they created themselves.
The ensemble’s professionalism and musicianship was acknowledged first in its home country, the USA, having been invited to perform on several national radio broadcasts (including The Robert Sherman Show in New York City, and National Public Radio‘s The Studs Terkel Program in Chicago). They performed many concerts in America, Canada, Australia, and Europe, especially enriching the programs of Latvian song festivals and cultural festivals worldwide.
"KOLIBRI performs Latvian folk music. It is a pity that they do not perform in public more often. Their concerts are not to be missed!“ (The Boston Globe, ASV).
“A concert of the highest quality!” (La Nouvelle République, France).
Among the most significant moments in the life of the ensemble were its concert at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, at the 1979 Latvian Song Festival in Gotland, Sweden, and its participation in the folklore festival Baltica 88 in Latvia. This legendary festival coincided with the independence movement in Latvia; KOLIBRI was the first exiled Latvian ensemble from the USA to be officially invited to perform in Latvia, which was still part of the USSR. The ensemble’s performances during the festival in Dome Square and at the Anglican Church were highlights, both emotionally and artistically, even if their style was perhaps different from the prevalent ethnic direction of the festival.
A high professional level has always been at the core of KOLIBRI’s performances – for an ensemble with four trained composers, how could it be otherwise?
“KOLIBRI’s performance was impressive in all aspects – it revealed unique Latvian music rhythms and the beauty of folk poetry, as well as the colorful timbres of ancient folk instruments played with precise intonation”, according to a review in the Latvian-American newspaper “Laiks." The ensemble often employed Latvian folk instruments (the “kokle,” a plucked string instrument, recorders, krummhorns, the percussion instrument “trejdeksnis”) that were well known by its members, and so their inclusion in the arrangements was organic and musically convincing. The knowledge of the musicians in other musical areas (early music, classical, popular, and contemporary) brought fruitful influences to their arrangements and compositions, making them much more than just typical folk song arrangements.
“The performance of each and every work by KOLIBRI was not only emotionally expressed, but also technically correct, interpreted according to the conventions of the time period when the work was created.” (Pauls Dambis, “Literatūra un Māksla”, (“Literature and Art," Latvia).
The ensemble KOLIBRI no longer exists. Its members have gone their separate ways, and some of them are no longer active musicians. Their music is documented only by a few recordings: a record album “KOLIBRI” (1979), three audio cassettes – “KOLIBRI sings and plays, too” and “Danco, danco, pagriezies, pagriezies!” (“Dance, Dance, Turn, Turn!”) (1988), and “Slava Dievam augstībā” (“Glory to God on High”) (1991), as well as concert recordings in America and Latvia. This album, A Kolibri Retrospective, is a compilation of various historic recordings, reminding us of this colorful and unique Latvian music group, KOLIBRI.

KOLIBRI members:
Līga Aldiņa is a founding member of KOLIBRI. She has a master’s degree in French from Tufts University and she teaches French and Spanish. She also studied voice and music at the Longy School of Music and the Boston Conservatory, and has performed as a soloist in many concerts and church services in the USA and Latvia.

Juris Broks (1944-1997) was born in Riga, and his family emigrated to Germany and then to Boston. He made music all his life, singing and playing the guitar, and popular genres were especially dear to him. Also a sound engineer, he recorded and produced albums of original music with his wife, Anita Kupriss. He was a songwriter and composer and a founding member of KOLIBRI.

Pamela Ambrose studied the cello at the Longy School of Music and at Boston University, and is a member of the Charles River Trio. She has participated in many musical projects, including the recording Poetic Reflections. Pamela has long been a cello teacher at the New School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Flutist Lalita Saliņa has performed in many Latvian song festivals and concerts of chamber music. She has performed with KOLIBRI in the USA, Canada, Sweden, and Australia. She studied with Paul Fried at the Boston Conservatory, and graduated from Vassar College with honors. Later she became a psychologist and therapist, working at a psychological trauma center in Ottawa, Canada.

Laura Padega Zamura is a native New Yorker. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Vassar College and her master’s in violin performance at Temple University. She has long been a violinist and violin teacher, and her lifelong activity in Latvian music includes singing and playing in various ensembles, especially with the New York Latvian Concert Choir, where she is currently the conductor’s assistant.

Pēteris Ozols studied the piano for many years, and then learned to play the guitar and drums. He sang with KOLIBRI, played in the dance band “JPR Trio”, and performed with popular Latvian musicians in concerts and other events in St. Petersburg (FL).

Jānis Sils (1953-1985) grew up in Boston, and he made music with KOLIBRI from its founding up until his untimely death. He is a graduate of Harvard University. He had many interests and talents – in music, art, and literature. He was an avid fencer and nature-lover. Shortly before his passing, he organized an interesting exhibit of his artwork.

Ruta Dambis-Ruice sang in KOLIBRI from its very origin. She took piano lessons in her youth, but is not a musician by training. A graduate of Bridgewater State College, she resides in Boston and works at an investment planning firm.


Laila Saliņa, singer and composer, has devoted her life to various musical worlds, including chamber music, opera, and Latvian folk music. In Latvia she has been a soloist at the leading theater venues and has appeared as Carmen at the Latvian National Opera. Laila is a soloist with the Long Island Chamber Ensemble, as well as the ensemble „Eclyptica“. The show „InSomnia/InSexton“, about the poet Anne Sexton, was given in New York with Laila’s originally composed songs. She recently released a CD of Latvian ballads. She is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and SUNY, Stony Brook University in New York.

Mārtiņš Aldiņš was born in 1946 in Germany. After his family emigrated to the USA, he began singing in a choir („Rota“) conducted by his father, Valdis Aldins, which he later conducted himself. He studied music at the University of Connecticut, and then graduated from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a Senior Diploma in Early Music and Recorder Performance. He also studied the clarinet and krummhorn, as well as vocal performance. He performed as a vocal and instrumental soloist in many concerts, especially with Latvian ensembles and choirs in New York. In 1970 he received a young composers‘ competition award. Together with his brother Peteris he founded the ensemble KOLIBRI in 1976, in which he was active as a composer and performer in all of the aforementioned ensemble’s international avtivities. He has taught young Latvians to play the kokle. During 1993-94 he lived in Riga, Latvia, where he gave concerts with the ensembles „Ludus“ and „Collegium Musicum Rigense“, collaborating with various conductors and making recordings at Latvian Radio. Since 2002 he has directed the early music ensemble „A Joyful Noyse“ in Lexington, has performed with the ensemble „Schola Nocturna“ in Boston since 2006, and in 2007 he performed the tenor role in the 14th century musical production „Planctus Mariae“ with the ensemble „Cappella Clausura“.

Pēteris Aldiņš – composer, pedagogue, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and singer – was born in 1953 in Connecticut. Like his brother, he got started at an early age singing in his father’s choir „Rota“ and with other Latvian ensembles. He received his diploma in Composition at the Longy Music School in Cambridge in 1979, and his master’s degree at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1983. He studied in the doctoral program at Boston University (1985-88), where he received the ASCAP award as the best composition student, and where he taught for three years. At various Latvian schools and summer camps at home and abroad, he learned Latvian folk music and participated in various ensembles. In 1972 he directed the ensemble „Putna piens“, and as a continuation of that he was a co-founder of KOLIBRI along with his brother. The repertoire that he helped to create with his colleagues synthesized ancient folk traditions and performance practices with aspects of contemporary chamber music.
P. Aldins participated as a musician, conductor, and composer in the Latvian Youth Music Festivals in North America. He is involved with the modern chamber music union „Underground Composers“ in Boston, having been its president (1992–1994). His sacred choral music is published by „ECS Music Publishing“, and his compositions and arrangements have been performed in many countries. As a pedagogue, he has been active at Latvian summer venues for children, and at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In the fall of 1989 he taught at the J. Vitols Latvian Music Academy in Riga, and a concert of his music was given in Riga at that time. Currently he teaches music theory and composition at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, and serves as organist and choir conductor at the Latvian Lutheran Church in Boston. He shows his love for Latvian folk music by teaching it to children at the Boston Latvian School.

Anita Kuprisa - conductor, composer, singer, guitarist, trumpeter, and pedagogue – was born in 1958 in North Adams, USA. She graduated from the University of Lowell at Massachusetts in 1980 with two bachelor’s degrees: in music theory/composition and in music education. In 1989 and 1990 she earned two master’s degrees at the New England Conservatory, in composition and choral conducting. She studied folklore at Western Michigan University, and in 2009 she received her doctoral degree in choral conducting from Boston University, writing her dissertation about the choral music of Latvian composer Peteris Vasks.
During her years as a student, she played the trumpet in various ensembles and orchestras. As a composer she became active in the ensemble KOLIBRI. She was the conductor’s assistant at Harvard University and at the "Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum." She also taught and conducted at Milton Academy. She worked as the music director and conductor at the Hancock Congregational Church, Lexington, where she directed the children’s, youth, and adult choirs. Together with P. Aldins she conducted the choir at the Boston Latvian Lutheran Church. She has taught at schools, summer seminars, and youth master classes in the USA and in Latvia. She has taught choral conducting at the New England Conservatory, and instrumental conducting at Boston University. She has been the conductor’s assistant with the professional choir "Boston Secession." She is currently [2010] working on an exciting project combining the artistic resources of women writers, dancers, composers, and poets in order to create a musical celebrating women's strengths and their poignant stories throughout history.

Imants Mežaraups (1958) was born in Philadelphia. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with two bachelor’s degrees magna cum laude, and with a master’s degree in Composition, where his teachers were George Crumb, George Rochberg, and Richard Wernick. He also studied conducting there. He earned his doctoral degree at Temple University. Throughout his studies he received numerous awards and was inducted into the honor society Pi Kappa Lambda. He taught numerous music subjects at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and at private high schools, earning awards for distinguished teaching and an endowed chair at Germantown Academy. He was organist at the Latvian Lutheran Church in Philadelphia for many years. In Latvia, he has taught at Latvian Music Academy, but currently he teaches at the Riga Dom Choir School, the Riga Teacher Training and Education Management Academy, and conducts a choir in the town of Talsi, with which he has gone on concert tours in Finland, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland. He has won prestigious awards for his compositions in Latvia and in New York, Amsterdam, and Rome. With KOLIBRI he participated in many of the international projects described earlier as composer and performer.

Andrejs Jansons was born in Riga in 1938. He studied at the Italian State Conservatory in Venice, earned his bachelor’s degree in oboe performance at the Juilliard Music School (NYC, 1960), his master’s degree in conducting at the Manhattan School of Music (1973), and a doctoral degree in creative arts-composition at Rutgers University (1986). He has played the oboe in the Baltimore and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and in the Metropolitan and New York City Opera Orchestras.
He has been the principal guest conductor of the Bronx Arts Orchestra since 1988 and of the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra since 1994. As a guest conductor, he has given concerts with the New England Chamber Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Natvian National Opera, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Hungarica, the Nurnberg Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian State Academic Choir “Latvia”, the Latvian Radio Choir, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, and the choirs “Sonore”, “Ave Sol”, and “Balsis”.
He has been a conductor at Latvian music festivals in San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Gotland, and Riga, as well as in various Latvian towns. He is currently the artistic director of the New York Latvian Concert Choir, The New York Estonian Choir, the “Bergen Chorale”, and the Fordham University Choir.

Program notes by the composers about their arrangements

1. Pēteris Aldiņš. Malni muni kumeliņi/ Black Are My Colts.
I employed a multi-voiced song as written down by E. Melngailis in his collection of folk music materials. Only the bourdon and kokle parts are original, where I tried to develop a characteristic style of kokle playing.

2. Mārtiņš Aldiņš. Zvirgzdienas rotāšana/ ”Rota” Song from Zvirgzdiene.
My father, who directed the choir “Rota”, asked me to write an arrangement of a folk song that was recorded by a singer from Latgale (an eastern region of Latvia) in his choir. I went out into nature to witness bees humming and hay drying in the sun in order to better understand the natural imagery of the song. Because the summer solstice was approaching, I allowed a tune from this feast day to “creep into” my arrangement.

3.Andrejs Jansons. Kas dimd, kas rīb/What Is Resounding?
This arrangement was written for the New York Kokle and Vocal Ensemble. In its early stages, the KOLIBRI ensemble was highly influenced by A. Jansons’ piety towards Latvian folk music.

4.Anita Kuprisa. Māmiņa mīļā/ Dear Mother.
This song was inspired by a solo song with piano accompaniment with the same title by Volfgangs Darzins. It was arranged for the KOLIBRI of the time: SSATB, two recorders, triangle, and the Latvian percussion instrument trejdeksnis.

5. Pēteris Aldiņš. Šūpļa dziesma/ Lullaby.
I tried to imagine a child who was struggling to fall asleep, dreamed about mice, and finally fell asleep. The arrangement employs much canonic imitation and a transparent instrumental texture as a background for the voices.

6. Imants Mežaraups.Tu, māsiņa, es māsiņa/ You, Sister, and I, Sister.
This is a miniature among many that were my first offerings to the KOLIBRI ensemble. The unpretentious arrangement highlights women’s voices, preserving the folkloristic mood of the song.

7. Pēteris Aldiņš. Metenītis/ Song of the Feast Day “Meteni”.
I added appropriate texts from the Latvian dainas and sought to employ elements of Renaissance music, as well as I understood them at the time, in combination with a Latvian folkloric mood.

8. Laila Saliņa, Pēteris Aldiņš, Mārtiņš Aldiņš. Darbs ira/ There Is Work to Do.
It is difficult to recall just what each participant contributed to this arrangement. During a rehearsal it arose spontaneously, and within an hour the arrangement was done.

9. Pēteris Aldiņš. Bērnu dziesmas/ Children’s Songs.
The folk melodies and texts amused me, and that was the driving force behind this arrangement.

10. Anita Kuprisa. Ģērbies, saule, sudrabota/ Get Dressed, Siverly Sun.
This joyful folk song, with its 5/8 meter, inspired me to create a striking arrangement for KOLIBRI, featuring interplay between voices and instruments, especially percussion. This became the basis for a later and well-known arrangement for choir a cappella.

11. Imants Mežaraups. Pavasara ainas/ Scenes from Spring, excerpt.
This composition was written to fulfill the need for a longer work (almost 20 minutes in duration!) for a concert program KOLIBRI presented in Australia in 1985. It is a rhapsody on folk themes that give various impressions of nature in springtime. All of the melodic themes are quoted from the folklore materials compiled by E. Melngailis. Together with the large-scale works of Anita Kupriss and Peteris and Martins Aldins, this became the unique and original offering – large, contemporary works based on ancient folk material - given to Latvian audiences in 1988 during KOLIBRI’s first visit to Latvia.

12. Mārtiņš Aldiņš. Putnu dzīšana/Chasing Away the Birds, excerpt.
Driving away birds was a practice in some parts of lower Kurland early on Easter morning. Before sunrise, people would gather to ritualistically chase away birds of bad luck – crows, ravens, owls, as well as wolves and bears – with loud singing and shouting.

13. Anita Kuprisa. Vedat mani dziedādami! /CarryMe Awaqy Singing!
When the composer was 15 years old, her brother was killed in an automobile accident. This was a traumatic, emotional time in Anita’s life. In seeking consolation, she found strength in ancient Latvian burial songs, in which death is not an enemy, but a natural part of life. This work, dedicated to her brother Roland, utilizes several Latvian burial songs expressing the positive perspective on death.

14. Mārtiņš Aldiņš. Vadžu deja/ Folk Dance.
The kokle part is found in the first volume of the E. Melngailis folklore compilation. I added other instrumental parts to it so as to create the feeling of a joyous rustic band.

15. Pēteris Aldiņš. Ganiņu līgošana/The Shepherd’s “Līgo” Song.
Originally for voices and recorders only, my intent was to create a simple and rich-sounding arrangement for choir.

16. Pēteris Aldiņš. Čigānu dziesma/Gypsy Song.
I added a syncopation in one measure, because I found this element in a few other gypsy songs. Employing the violin’s open 5ths and the timbre of the guitar and horn, I tried to evoke an exotic mood.

17. Pēteris Aldiņš. Ziemassvētku dziesmas/Winter Solstice Songs.
a. Visu gadu naudu krāju /I Saved Money All Year Long
b. Ai, bagāti Ziemassvētki /Oh, You Rich Solstice Feast
c. Dasa skrāja pa pagolmu /The Sausage Ran Around the Courtyard
d. Ēdiet, bērni, dzīvus rudzus /Children, Eat Fresh Rye
In the second song I employed the intervals of 4ths so as to evoke an ancient sound. In the 3rd song, the instruments play in different keys simultaneously, as if children are trying to conjure up something. As with the Children’s Songs, I liked the humor in the texts and melodies.

18. Pēteris Aldiņš. Sidrabiņa lietiņš lija/ A Silvery Rain Fell.
I liked the celebratory mood and wide range of this song. I have always been attracted to folk tunes that lend themselves well to treatment in canonic imitation.

19. Anita Kuprisa. Sidrabiņa lietiņš lija/ A Silvery Rain Fell.
The song reflects the cold wintertime, here characterized by the kokle, violin, cello, triangle, and voices in canons.

20. Mārtiņš Aldiņš. Sudrabiņa lietiņš lija/ A Silvery Rain Fell.
Moonbeams appear and disappear behind heavy, dark winter clouds, suddenly illuminating frost-covered tree branches. Childhood memories influenced my arrangement’s character. I can also mention the rhythmic tanz - nach tanz element, which probably arose from the influence of Renaissance music.



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