Kohima: Following a weeklong intensive choir conducting and voice workshop in Dimapur by three experts from Latvia, Egils Jakobsons, Inta Kamarute, and Gints Ceplenieks, the partnership between the two now aims to achieve sustainability for Nagaland choral music.

“It’s been a great mutual benefit. Our teachers have seen the incredible potential. And I am willing to do the next potential step after this victorious step. We will try to make it sustainable and long lasting. It is not just about one firework, we hope to move forward for new steps,” Artis Bertulis, Ambassador of Latvia to India and Sri Lanka told journalists.

He informed that during a recent meeting with Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, discussions were made on strengthening ties between the two.

Rio had also taken to Twitter saying “H.E @ArtisBertulis, Ambassador @LVinIndia  called on me. We discussed ways to further strengthen cultural ties and people-to-people contact. Thanked him for the support given to Nagaland in combating the pandemic. Look forward to strengthening bilateral ties for mutual benefit”.

The workshop had culminated with ‘Choral Expressions’, a finale closing concert on Saturday night, where the trainees along with the choir conductors and teachers performed choral music for about an hour at the Regional Centre of Excellence in Music and Performing Arts (RCEMPA) in Jotsoma, Kohima.

During the concert, trainees performed alongside the experts, even tuning four songs in Latvian language. As a land that sings, Bertulis informed that Latvia will be marking 150 years of traditional song festivals in two years time and will witness around 15,000 singers on one stage and under one conductor.

The diplomat said that efforts are being made for possible choir exchanges where a Naga choir or atleast the teachers can witness the magnitude of the choral event in Latvia. “We would like to explore and see what is possible,” he added.

He also suggested that coordinated efforts can help preserve Naga folk songs, tunes and melodies citing how documenting and digitising it can create a new piece of art. As choral music is often a significant part of the musical life in Nagaland, especially in the churches, he recommended local musicians to incorporate the Naga folk music in the choral performances.

“Possibly, Latvians can contribute in educating some music arrangers so that Nagas can make their songs not only being sung by the old people in villages but by young kids on stage. That will be a new thing with which we could do. And in the digital world we can do digital master classes”, he said.

As he emphasized on the growth of digitization which has given a boost to the music industry, he suggested the need for Naga musicians to network and go global with their art as cultural ambassadors for the state.

On the partnership with Nagaland, he said that it has been “mutually enriching”. As for how Latvia has benefitted through the partnership, he said “We are multiplying friends, building new bridges and at the same time discovering super talents”.

As reported earlier, Advisor to the Task Force for Music and Arts (TaFMA), Theja Meru had told EastMojo that the workshop is an outcome of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the government of Nagaland and the Embassy of Latvia to India on October 2, 2020.

The MoU was signed in Delhi by Nagaland chief minister and the Ambassador of Latvia to India. They announced a partnership between the Riga Cathedral Choir School Latvia and TaFMA India as institutional partners to pursue ways and means for artistic pursuits and the exchange of knowledge and cultural programs between Latvia and Nagaland.

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