Riga to open European Capital of Culture year with week-long celebration

Riga will open the European Capital of Culture year in mid-January with a week-long celebration, featuring concerts, exhibitions and various other cultural events throughout the city. Riga’s regional partner during the European Capital of Culture year, Sigulda, will also host several events. Throughout 2014, Riga will host a wide range of cultural events as part of its extensive European Capital of Culture program. Riga’s 2014 cultural program will host a string of events sure to attract the world’s attention. The Swedish city of Umea is the second of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2014, as both cities intend to cooperate on various cultural events throughout the year.

On January 15, the Museum of Natural History will open a special exhibition called "Amber through the ages". The exhibition will be the first stop along the "Amber Road" project. It will throw light on Baltic amber, demonstrating its natural forms, richness of tones and its significance in terms of the world’s amber deposits. The exhibition will stress the uniqueness of amber as the first material from Latvia which reached neighboring cultures in ancient Europe. Visitors will learn more about natural amber, its application in a wide variety of spheres, the economic potential of amber thread in particular being a highlight.

On January 16, the official opening of the exhibition of kinetic art called "From Johansons to Johansons" will be held at the new Latvian National Library building. The project is a dialogue between different periods of history – the 1920s, 60s and 70s and the first decade of the 21st century. The "From Johansons to Johansons" exhibition of kinetic art brings together seven Latvian artists from different generations, each known for innovation, telling the story of Latvian art and cultural values, as well as contemplating how our fates have been affected by history. Curated by Ieva Astahovska and organized by the Center of Contemporary Art, the artists represented will be Gustavs Klucis (1895–1938), Kārlis Johansons (1890–1929), Valdis Celms (1943), Jānis Krievs (1942), Artūrs Riņķis (1942), Gints Gabrāns (1970) and Voldemārs Johansons (1981).

On January 17 at the "Arsenāls" exhibition hall, an exhibition called "1914" will be open. "1914" is an art exhibition dedicated to World War I and reflects on three eras: the one that collapsed as soon as the war started, the one during the war itself and the third, representing the present. "1914" will combine the visual art testimony of different countries about WWI and show how it has defined Europe’s historic, social and cultural development over the last century. The exhibition is being put together in partnership with the national museums of art of Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Also on January 17, a multimedia concert performance of Richard Wagner’s "Rienzi. Rise and Fall" will be held at the Latvian National Opera. Composed in Riga between 1837 and 1839, Richard Wagner’s opera "Rienzi" is inextricably linked to the Latvian capital. The Latvian National Opera will show this multimedia production, turning it into one of the European-level events inaugurating Riga’s year as European Capital of Culture. More than just a staging, the production will entail a re-working of the opera, integrating it into a completely new envisioning by the director.

On January 18, at the Riga Central Market, six "Riga 2014" program chapters will be presented in the market’s pavilions and open areas, as well as at the "Spīķeri" creative quarter and the Riga International Bus Terminal.

Furthermore, an all-day event on January 18 called ''Taste and Feel 2014!'' will be held in participating cafes, restaurants and other venues throughout the city, while a special light-show will be held on the banks of the Daugava River from 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, on January 18, from 12:00 to 18:00, anyone will be able to join the event during which books will travel from the old library building to the new one by being handed from one person to the next. The event, called ''Chain of Booklovers'', will also serve as the official unveiling of the new Latvian National Library building ''Gaismas Pils'' (''The Palace of Light'') to the public. This path of books will cross the River Daugava, symbolizing the fundamental values which have for many generations developed the core of Latvian culture, and which are immortalized in books. Following the hand-carried delivery of books, at 6 p.m. in the "Palace of Light", the opening for „A Nation’s Bookshelf” will be held, made up of selections from readers donated to the library - books that changed their lives.

Check out the Opening Event programme and latest news at the www.riga2014.org cultural portal.





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