On 30 November 2018, the official world premiere of the folk oratorio Rivers of Our Being took place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Eleven months later, on 29 October 2019, it was performed in the composer's native Latvia for the first time. Created by the ethnomusicologist Prof. Valdis Muktupavels, the oratorio is one of the research outputs of the EU-funded (2016-19) CoHERE project's Work Package 3, which was led by Heriot-Watt University. The performance at the Latvian National Library in Riga was recorded for Latvian TV and can be watched here.
The Latvian Academy of Culture's mixed choir Sōla and a chamber orchestra lead by conductor Kaspars Adamsons participated in the performance in the concert hall of Latvia's National Library in Riga on 29 October 2019.
The oratorio is the result of the collaborative cultural heritage research project “CoHERE – Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe”. Valdis Muktupavels has woven the research findings into artistic form, creating a new genre of work – the folk-oratorio “Rivers of Our Being.”
Another result of the CoHERE project – the monograph Heritage and Festivals in Europe (Routledge) – was launched during the event. The monograph includes chapters by leading researchers from the Latvian Academy of Culture (Ruta Muktupavela, Anda Lake and Baiba Tjarve) and Heriot-Watt's Intercultural Research Centre (Ullrich Kockel, Máiréad Nic Craith, Kerstin Pfeiffer, Katerina Strani, Babk Taheri, IRC Associates Cristina Clopot, Mairi McFadyen and Magdalena Weiglhofer, and doctoral researcher Cait McCullagh).
In the folk-oratorio, musical heritage elements from twelve European regions are complemented with poetry and reflective texts, which will be recited by leading researchers from the CoHERE project - Gönül Bozoğlu and Chris Whitehead from Newcastle University, Máiréad Nic Craith and Ullrich Kockel from Heriot-Watt. Thematic video projections, created by video artist Viktors Keino in collaboration with director Martins Kagainis, will enhance the performance.
The Latvian premiere was the opening event of the 13th International Research Conference “Culture Crossroads” at the Latvian Academy of Culture, reflecting on the relationship between art and research, including the creation process of the folk-oratorio “Rivers of Our Being”.
“The composition Rivers of Our Being thematically has been inspired by the rivers of Europe, which connect different cultures by flowing through different lands. River streams are presented in parallel with different musical traditions that have always interacted and influenced each other. In the folk-oratorio, languages, instruments, musical themes and ideas are harmoniously intertwined, allowing us to feel the diversity and unity of Europe, as well as our place in it,” says the composer V. Muktupavels.
The folk-oratorio was created as a part of the project “CoHERE” (Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe), funded by the European Union’s “Horizon 2020” research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 693289. The Latvian premiere is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Riga City Council and the State Cultural Capital Foundation. Entrance to the event is for free.
Head of the Creative Activity Centre of the LAC