The Latvian Song and Dance Festival
has existed in some form or another since 1873, held roughly every five years. Along with similar festivals in Estonia and Lithuania, it has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the world's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
. The approximately 35,000 amateur singers and dancers who travel from all around Latvia to perform the weeklong festival
comprise 1.5% of the country's entire population. The centerpiece of the festival is always the final night, when the full complement of roughly 20,000 singers perform the most iconic Latvian folk songs a cappella
. In 2013, a song performed on the final night was "Līgo
" (a word meaning both "sway" and "summer solstice festival"). But for sheer spine-tingling pleasure, 2008's "Gaismas pils
" ("Castle of Light") can't be beat.
"Far From Moscow
is a resource designed to promote, catalog, and consider new music from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, together with the Baltic nations (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)." Posts are frequent and extensive
and stuffed full of fantastic songs
. They also offer a dozen free sampler albums
; I'm listening to and loving Apples
and the more ambient Forest
. [more inside]
Latvia's Tiger Economy Loses Its Bite
: Less than a year after Latvia joined the E.U. in 2004, its growth rate topped all of Europe. As global stock markets overheated and competition for investment opportunities intensified, Scandinavian banks showered Latvia with cheap credit.
Now, with the highest unemployment in Europe
, and propped up by $10 billion in IMF loans
, Latvia's economy struggles to stay afloat.
To play for a draw, at any rate with White, is to some degree a crime against chess.
A Latvian Jew with ectrodactyly
and lifelong kidney ailments, Mikhail Tal
is considered one of the most audacious attacking players
in the game's history. For a quarter century, he held the record of being the youngest man to win the World Championship. And his streak of 95 consecutive games without a loss is unmatched to this day. [more inside]
Knitting colourful and intricate wool mittens is a Latvian tradition. To welcome guests to a NATO summit in Riga in 2006, hundreds of knitters from around the country made 4500 pairs of mittens
. The mittens were photographed individually before they were given away and arranged into galleries
according to the region they came from. No two pairs are the same.
On July 1st, 26 year old Fiji-native Satender Singh was gay-bashed to death
by several Slavic immigrants in Sacramento. [more inside]
is a bagpipe from Southeastern Europe. Gaida mp3s? Lots of 'em here
. Gaida on the YouTubes? Why
, of course
. There's a bunch
. A lot
. And electric ones? Yup
. And here's a deflated
one. But do any hippies
play this thing? And dance to it? Sure
! But the real
question is: What is the problem with this gaida?
The European Union welcomes 10 new members!
As I write this, the celebrations have started as Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia become members of the EU today.
While some folks are gonna party like crazy
, others are warning of doom and gloom
What do you think? Will this have significant effects on global culture, politics, and economics - or will it merely represent a paper change within the rarefied world of European diplomats, with little other than localized effects on day to day life?
The Forest Brothers
spent years hiding in the woods of Estonia and Latvia. They lived alone, carefully covering their tracks, sleeping in clammy bunkers, no bigger than walk-in closets. Then things got less comfortable. (warning: nytimesfilter.)
a project 25 media artists and activists, who converted a Soviet-era 32meter dish antenna in Irbene, in the forests of western Latvia, which also happens to be a top 5 most precise radiotelescopes in the world, into one of the coolest art projects ever. [via milov