I just realized that I haven’t posted in a long time! Like I said before, I am super busy and I barely noticed! Anyways, I would like to update everyone on my recent concerts. I have had two in the past week in recognition of Latvia’s Independence Day! First was my school concert which was on the 15th. My class sang two songs, Pastalas and our Original song, and I was also in a show choir performance where we sung a song written by our teacher. You could say I was pretty involved. First up was my show choir performance where we sang a song about Ogre. I sang a duet with another girl for one of the lines. This whole song was in Latvian but with enough practice, I was able to blend in pretty well!
The girl playing the guitar is seriously one of the most talented people I have ever met. She plays guitar (obviously), the piano, the Latvian national instrument which is a like a harp-hammer dulcimer hybrid, and she sings with the powerful voice of a country singer! She is just so amazing! She also has a wonderful personality and her and I laugh all the time together. We had to draw an… interesting picture in art and we could not stop cracking up! What makes it better is that she has a Russian accent when she speaks in English! I LOVE IT! She is really tall (like 6 ft maybe) and her name is Lauma. She also writes songs and I am just really glad to have met her and have the chance to get to know her over the course of this year.
Next, we performed our Original song. I was asked to share some lyrics so here they are!
It is basically a song about Latvia and what it means to everyone in it. I am just so proud that my classmates and I wrote a song! It is something I have never done before and it was a great experience! Having people sing words and melodies that you wrote is just something else! I could get addicted to it. Some more details about this song, my friends Simona and Katrine sang the first two lines, then Una the next two. Everyone sang the chorus twice, then the next four lines were for me! It was exhilerating! Then the chorus in English twice, then everyone together for the next four lines and the chorus one last time. We didn’t sing the last verse because the song would have been too long, but I honestly feel like this words that I wrote, perfectly sum up my time in Latvia so far. I still am not quite sure about the translation for the bits that my friends wrote, but I sang them nonetheless!
There is me sitting with the microphone getting ready to sing! I was so nervous it was unbearable! But everything turned out better than I expected and I think we performed our best that day 🙂
The next song, Pastalas, was all in Latvian. Pastalas are a part of the Latvian National Costume. They are made of leather and basically have no sole. They were similar to ballet slippers because you have to wrap them up your leg and tie them in a bow. It was really tricky because you had to tie them tight otherwise this would happen.
It is sad. So after I learned this lesson, I tied them super tight and almost cut off circulation to my calves. But at least they stayed up! So yeah, we sang a kind of rock song about traditions and the things that make Latvia Latvia. It was one of my favorite songs! It was all in Latvian so I had to learn not lnly a new song, but also a whole new way to pronounce words.
I guess I did pretty well because at the very end of the song, they gave me the closing solo! “Pat tad, ja to nejūt vairs neviens cits” (Even if no one else can feel it). It was so amazing! Ahh! Everyone in my school cheered me on after that! They were so impressed that an American can speak Latvian! I got so many compliments and thanks from my teachers and classmates. One lady in my other choir even came up to me and told me that she was there for my school concert and she was so thankful that I am in Latvia and am singing in her choir. She then gave me a piece of chocolate and a kiss on the cheek. I officially love the people here.
On November 18th, my choir joined many choirs for a performance of patriotic songs for the city of Ogre. It was a great learning experience because I was able to memorize the Latvian Naitonal Anthem and other national songs. I loved it! It is Latvian tradition to sing in large choirs so I was also able to participate in this cultural norm. Before the concert, one of the ladies went around with chocolate and a bottle of alcohol and gave some to every member of the choir! This thoroughly surprised me!
After our concert, we had cake and everyone was invited by the director of the art school to a party at his school. I opted out in favor of going to the fireworks! Since I missed Indepence Day in America, there was no way I was missing this!! I rejoined my family and we went out into the crowd to await the firework show. Everyone was standing facing the Culture Center because that is always where they are launched but when we heard an explosion from behind our heads, the mob turned around really fast! This year apparently they were shooting off from a different building, one that was really close to where we were standing! I have never seen such big fireworks so close before! They were right over our heads!! The ashes fell from the sky and kept smacking me in the face. It was a little painful! But it was just spectacular! Happy Birthday Latvia!