Skaņu Mežs is a festival for adventurous music in Latvia's capital Riga. It will host its 21 edition on October 6-8 at concert hall Hanzas Perons, with an opening event on September 30. Last year, The Wire Magazine hailed Skaņu Mežs as “wildly ambitious” and “the biggest avant-garde music festival in the Baltics”.
The first confirmed acts of the event are Pulitzer prize winning composer and experimental musician Raven Chacon as well as new music ensemble Mivos Quartet, who will perform Chacon’s piece The Journey of the Horizontal People among other works.
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist. As an educator, Chacon has served as composer-in-residence for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project, where he taught string-quartet composition to hundreds of American Indian high-school students on reservations in the American Southwest.
In 2022, Chacon was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his piece Voiceless Mass. At Skaņu Mežs, Chacon will play a solo show, and the audience will also be able to hear his string quartet The Journey of the Horizontal People, which he describes in the following words:
“The Journey of the Horizontal People is a future creation story telling of a group of people traveling from west to east, across the written page, contrary to the movement of the sun, but involuntarily and unconsciously allegiant to the trappings of time. With their bows, these wanderers sought out others like them, knowing that they could survive by finding these other clans who resided in the east, others who shared their linear cosmologies. It is told that throughout the journey, in their own passage of time, this group became the very people they were seeking.”
This piece will be performed by the Mivos Quartet - “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles” (The Chicago Reader). Mivos Quartet is devoted to performing works of contemporary composers and presenting diverse new music to international audiences. Since the quartet's beginning in 2008, they have performed and closely collaborated with an ever-expanding group of international composers representing a wide aesthetic range of contemporary composition. Highlights during the 2022/23 season will include performances and residencies at Walker Arts Center with Cécile McLorin Salvant and Ambrose Akinmusire, UPenn, ECLAT Festival (DE), Columbia University, Peak Performances with Mary Halvorson, and the announcement of a new album of Steve Reich string quartets.
Mivos is invested in commissioning, premiering, and growing the repertoire of new music for the string quartet, striving for rich collaborations with composers over extended periods of time. Recently, Mivos has collaborated on new works with Jeffrey Mumford (LA Philharmonic/Library of Congress), Michaela Catranis (Fondation Royaumont), Chikako Morishita (rainy days festival), George Lewis (ECLAT Festival Commission), Sam Pluta (Lucerne Festival Commission), Eric Wubbels (CMA Commission), Kate Soper, Scott Wollschleger, Patrick Higgins (Zs), and poet/musician Saul Williams. For this work and the continuation of it, the quartet was the recipient of the 2019 Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Prize for Interpreters of Contemporary Music. The members of Mivos are violinists Olivia De Prato and Maya Bennardo, violist Victor Lowrie Tafoya, and cellist Tyler J. Borden. Mivos operates as a non-profit organization dedicated to performing, commissioning, and collaborating on music being written today.
Keep an eye out for further announcements from Skaņu Mežs to find out the full list of pieces that Mivos will play at the festival as well as the next artists that will grace the stage. The anticipation is building, and there's a lot more in store for music fans at this extraordinary festival.
Skaņu mežs is a member of the SHAPE+ platform for innovative music and audiovisual art as well as the project TEKHNE, co-supported by the „Creative Europe” programme of the European Union and the Latvian Ministry of Culture. Skaņu mežs festival is supported by the State Cultural Capital Fund, Riga City Council, the Latvian Ministry of Culture, Goethe-Institut Lettland, Trust for Mutual Understanding Foundation, and the Nordic Culture Point. Sponsors of the festival are Valmiermuižas Alus and Radio NABA. Skaņu mežs is a member of the international network ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound).