July 21, 2021

Riga Jurmala Music Festival concludes its opening weekend with 3500 audience members and a standing ovation!

The Riga Jurmala Music Festival opened last weekend 16-18 July with huge success, being one of the world’s first international music festivals to welcome 100% capacity audiences without masks. The Festival took the decision to only allow audience members who had been double vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19, to allow for maximum numbers of people to enjoy the world-class visiting artists in the safest possible circumstances. The first weekend saw around 3,500 visitors across the five concerts at Riga’s Great Guild and Jurmala’s Dzintari Concert Hall.

This year’s opening weekend line-up included Yuja Wang playing with the newly-formed Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra, made up of members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, the Oslo Philharomonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to honour the late Latvian conductor. The Orchestra’s debut performance under the baton of John Eliot Gardiner was a roaring success, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience and enticing no less than three encores from the musicians.

“I feel extraordinarily happy and fulfilled. It has been such a warm welcome here in Latvia, and it has been such a pleasure to come here with the orchestra who had to make a difficult choice to come here. We’ve been so thirsty for making live music,” said conductor John Eliot Gardiner. “There is this internal triangle between the composer, the performer and the listener, and if the listener is missing is not the same. The audience was very warm and very receptive, and I feel that it raised the level of the orchestra.”

With perfect warm weather to set the summer evenings in Riga and the seaside town of Jurmala, audiences also enjoyed performances from The King’s Singers, Víkingur Ólafsson and Matthias Goerne, the weekend closing with András Schiff appearing with the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra.

“We are blessed to have had such an amazing opening of the Festival with astonishing artist performances, diverse and attentive audience and all our dearest supporters and friends joining us at these wonderful events. I would like to especially thank all the musicians who took the initiative, formed a new festival orchestra dedicated to our bellowed Mariss Jansons and performed brilliantly together on the stage at the Dzintari Concert Hall. Their performance was truly exceptional, and we are inspired and so much looking forward for the Festival weekends to come,” reveals Zane Čulkstēna, Executive Director of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival.

Audience members from abroad were also able to visit the beautiful scenery of Latvia for the concerts, with people coming from America, the Netherlands, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, the UK and others. As travel restrictions begin to ease around the world, the Festival plans to continue inviting foreign audiences to experience the truly unique atmosphere.

Live masterclasses were also able to take place in person over the weekend with András Schiff teaching three piano students from across the Baltics.

Three weekends remain on 6th-8th August, 27th-29th August and 2nd-5th September with performances planned from Concertgebouworkest, Yefim Bronfman, Renaud Capuçon and many more, including a special performance from the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra for a rare performance outside of their hometown under the baton of Latvian native Andris Nelsons. Some tickets are still available for these weekends.

Photos from the opening weekend are available on the Festival’s Flickr gallery HERE!