Folk will rock at the Media Welcoming Reception!



If you thought traditional music was old fashioned, you’re in for a big surprise at Welcoming Reception for the Riga Summit. You will be greeted by Latvia’s internationally acclaimed post-folkore world music band Iļģi, and the exciting dances of Dandari.

One of the most popular groups on the world music scene, Iļģi were recently ranked second on the World Music Charts Europe with their latest album, ‘Ne uz vienu dienu’. Both Iļģi and Dandari take traditional Latvian folklore and infuse it with new energy, creativity and imagination. Their breathtaking journey along old and new musical paths is always full of surprises and artistic delights. Once you hear them at the reception, you will want to hear more, so be sure to visit the ‘Latvian Corner’ at the Summit Media Centre, where headphones, snacks and a comfortable couch will be waiting. But once you hear Ilģi, you may not be able to sit still for long.



Ilgi2 (quote)If music is the heart of Latvian culture, and folk songs are its lifeblood, then Latvia’s premiere post-folk group IĻĢI have demonstrated why these ancient sounds and rhythms tradition continue to excite passions and imaginations today.

The life-affirming, energizing music of IĻĢI (pronounced “eel-dji”) cannot be easily labelled. It has been called contemporary folk, folk rock, world music, roots music, folk fusion and countless other things. It is Latvian in its essence, but universal in its affect on listeners. Its roots go back thousands of years, yet the sound continues to evolve and develop along with the group’s highly original creative vision. The members of IĻĢI include its founder, Ilga Reizniece, as well as Māris Muktupāvels, Gatis Gaujenieks, Egons Kronbergs and Vilnis Strods. They coax fresh sounds out of traditional acoustical instruments such as the kokle (zither), stabule (recorder), dūdas (bagpipes), accordion and the cello-like ġīga, while giving new life to ancient melodies with electric guitars, violin, percussion and trap drums. The blend of old and new is always fresh, exciting and full of surprises.

The group was praised in TIME magazine in 1998 for “marrying ancient tradition and modern interpretation… keeping the essence of Latvian music alive.” Dirty Linen magazine hailed them for being “remarkably adaptive to new sounds while still holding on to a unique Latvian sound.” In 2001, China Daily called them “one of the biggest names in the Baltic and banner carriers for the Latvian sound…” During their tour of the United States in 2003, The San Jose Mercury News called IĻĢI “one of the most exciting bands in the freewheeling world-music marketplace.” Their latest album “Ne uz vienu dienu” reached 2nd place in the World Music Charts Europe. That is most significant success which ever got the Latvian folk group.
Today, IĻĢI are both a Latvian national treasure and a constant source of surprise and innovation on the world music scene. The world of music is discovering that there is indeed a ‘Latvian sound’ and the IĻĢI are presenting it in an unforgettable way.



dandari4 (small)The folk dance group “Dandari” of the University of Latvia unites young people who are interested in folklore and especially folk dances.
The group was established in 1980 by Ernests Spīčs, a well-known ethnic choreographer, who was the first to show that ethnic dance can also in the modern era be exciting and thrilling to both the audience and the dancer. The founder of the group also involves the members of  “Danadari” in the study and collection of folklore materials that have became part of the group’s repertoire.
The repertoire of “Dandari” consists of dances and games from different regions of Latvia as well as choreographic arrangements starting with common social life and seasonal tradition performances up to modern folklore theatre as well as specially designed programs that depict Latvian culture.
The folk dance group “Dandari” also collects songs, oral folklore and traditions.
Many details of the national costumes worn by the group are made by the members themselves. The musicians of “Dandari” achieve an original sound using old and traditional instruments and imitating the playing techniques of folk musicians.
“Dandari” has participated in festivals in Latvia such as “Baltica”, “Gaudeamus”, “Sudmaliņas” and “PEPT”. The group’s performances overseas have taken place in Georgia, Poland, Russia (Siberia), Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Staes of America, Finland, Spain, France and many times in our neighbouring countries of Lithuania and Estonia. “Dandari” has presented the culture of Latvia at the festival of Folk Life organized by the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, USA), EXPO 2000 (Hanover, Germany) as well as in events organized by Embassies of Latvia.


Catherine Todd Bailey

"One of the exciting elements of the summit will be the young leader’s forum, which will bring together young people from around the alliance and many of our partners to talk about how they can contribute to the values and goals of NATO

- Catherine Todd Bailey,
U.S. Ambassador to Latvia