The Latvian folk ensemble Tērvetes Trubadūri opened with several songs of traditional Latvian folk music rounded out by a Canadian and Scottish/Irish air. The Lithuanian choir Balsas followed with several songs that brought echoes of home to all who were in attendance. As the songs were sung, they were supported by images evoking the homeland. Folksongs and songs of freedom were interspersed with images of energetic dances juxtaposed with modern interpretations of folksongs.
After a short intermission, the renowned Montreal Estonian pianist Armas (Art) Maiste performed three pieces, beginning with a stunning performance of Chopin’s Valse Brillante. This was followed by his own composition, a personal interpretation of three Estonian folksongs using jazz improvisation. He ended with Place St. Henri, an excerpt from the Canadiana Suite by Oscar Peterson, paying homage to the jazz great and the concert hall namesake. The audience was entertained with an encore Chopin piece as an added treat.
Finally the Lithuanian dance group Gintaras charmed the audience with several lively folk dances reflecting the beauty as well as the seasons and life in Lithuania through folk dance. The finale “Op Op Polka” was a rousing end to a very enjoyable and uplifting concert.
Closing remarks were made by Arūnas Staškevičius, the Honorary Lithuanian Consul in Montreal, who invited by name all the organizers and directors of the various groups onto the stage. He also thanked the generous support of multiple organizations. These included the Montreal Estonian Society, the Council of Montreal Latvian Organisations, the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Montreal, the Caisse Desjardins des Lithuaniennes de Montreal, the Montreal Latvian Community Centre, the Estonian Foundation of Canada and the Estonian Central Council in Canada.
Following the concert, refreshments were provided in the Atrium of the concert hall. Tables were adorned with 100th anniversary decorations and there was plenty of wine and cheese for the concertgoers to indulge in. The conversation was festive and spirited and many new friends were made. As an added bonus, the Baltic Artists Association of Montreal adorned the Atrium with artworks by their members.
Happy 100th birthday, Estonian, Latvia and Lithuania!
Tiiu Vaikla Põldma, MES