Who is 7R?
Santa Ratniece, composer
Composer of My soul will sink within me, response to Buxtehude's TO THE FACE
The circuitous route to Santa Ratniece began in Philadelphia with our friend Lativan Gunta Plostnieks who gave me a CD of Eriks Esenvalds music. We immediately set out to program his compelling music and he became a friend of The Crossing through a commission and visit. In the summer of 2012, Donald was visiting Riga and asked Eriks for a broad view of 'what's going on in Latvian choral music today.' That discussion began with the music of Santa, which is very different than Eriks' but carried his unreserved recommendation. She is another fascinating Latvian composer (add Peteris Vasks and Maija Einfelde to Eriks) with a compelling expressive voice and a unique and mesmerizing ear for textures. We offered the U.S. premieres of three of her works during The Gulf (between you and me); but we waited to commission her until we could add an orchestra - her color palette extends equally to instruments and voices alike and we wanted to hear what she would do with a wide range of choices. To bring things full circle, Santa stays with Gunta when visiting Philadelphia!
Santa's music relies on the breath - it's all about the breathing of human beings and of the natural world around us - the breath of the earth. In fact, one of the first things that attracted us to her music is the way in which she creates a spiritual world of sound - a kind of grand and yet fragile architecture; when addressed to the topic of ancient lakes and the souls of animals, as in several of her works, one is aware of our relationship to those lakes and animals, and how far we are from them in our daily lives.
Santa first came into public view in 2004 after winning the first prize in the category of Composers under 30 at the 2004 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for her work sens nacre. In this short time, Santa's music has gained international acclaim, having been played in Europe, Australia, Canada, United States and South America by Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Riga, Altera Veritas, Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra, Spikeri String quartet, vocal group Putni, pianists Vestard Shimkus, Elizabete Siranteand Reinis Zariņš, (Latvia), NYYD Ensemble, Ensemble Resonabilis, Estonian National Male choir(Estonia), Ensemble Sarband, Ensemble Recherche, Leipziger Blaserquintett, Ensemble Avantgarde, violoncellist Ramon Jaffé, Ensemble RARO, Ensemble Reflexion K, Deutsch-Skandinavische Jugend-Philharmonie(Germany), Arditti Quartet, organist Charles Matthews (England), Nederlands Kamerkoor (The Netherlands), Musiques Nouvelles(Belgium) Quatuor Molinari (Canada), Sydney Symphony Fellows(Australia), SOCO Ensemble (Uruguay), Kronos Quartet, The Crossing (United States), ConTempo Quartet (Rumania) and others.
Santa's music has been widely played in the Baltic states, with her compositions included regularly in the programs of Arena Festival, Skaņu Mežs Festival, Latvian New Music Days, Introvert Music Festival, Autumn Chamber Music Festival, Cesis Art Festival (Latvia), Estonian Music Days, Autumn Festival (Estonia), ISCM World Music Days Vilnius, GAIDA, and Music of Changes (Lithuania).
Most of Ratniece`s music is devoted to chamber choir; she has received regular commissions from Latvian Radio choir, a relationship that began with Saline in 2006 and was followed by Hirondelles du Coeur (2007, for choir and orchestra) horo horo hata hata (2008, for 12 voices), Chu Dal (2009), Fuoco Celeste (2011 for cello solo and choir) and Nada el layli (2015 forkemenche, qanun and choir). The Crossing presented the U.S. premieres of three of these works a The Month of Modersn 2013; you can listen to us singing horo horo hata hata:
Santa’s first stage work, a multimedia opera entitled War Sum Up: Music. Manga. Machines, was premiered at the Latvian National Opera in 2011, conducted by Kaspars Putniņš. It has since had further performances at Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn New York, Brighton Festival 2012, ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival 2011, Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival 2012, Materia Prima Festival 2012 (Poland), Transart Festival 2013 (Italy), and on more than twenty other theatre stages around Europe and Asia (Taiwan and China). Here's some footage from the 2011 premiere:
Santa has degrees in Musicology and Composition from the J.Vītols Latvia Music Academy, studied composition with English composer David Rowland at Enschede Conservatory in the Netherlands, and received her MA in composition at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, studying under Helena Tulve.