Conductor Guntis Kuzma in a concert performance

© LNSO, conductor Guntis Kuzma

Enjoy top-notch performances in every genre

If you’re a lover of performing arts and planning a trip to Latvia, you’ve made the right choice. Latvia is a prime destination for cultural tourism – the appreciation for performing arts runs deep, with a rich history of music, theater, and opera.

Music: a cultural icon of Latvia

Latvia’s contribution to the world of music is remarkable, given its small population. The country has produced an impressive number of internationally acclaimed musicians, including conductors, composers, opera stars, and ensembles.

  • Renowned as one of the most impactful composers in Europe of the last century, he stands out for his unique style that blends Latvian folklore with contemporary musical techniques. His compositions often reflect themes such as man’s relationship with nature and the moral decline of the world. The latter theme resonates with his personal life, as he was forced to flee Latvia during the Soviet occupation due to his family’s Baptist faith.

  • A highly respected and innovative conductor who holds two prominent positions in the – Nelsons serves as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and has won three Grammy awards for his efforts.

  • A Latvian-American composer who was nominated for the 2021 Oscars for her powerful score in the film “Blizzard of Souls”. The score was recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and 55-voice choir in Riga’s Latvian Radio Studios, and her efforts were recognized with an Emmy Award. Ritmanis also won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Score for an International Feature Film.

  • A world-renowned opera star, who has gained critical and popular acclaim for her stunning voice, musical intelligence, and captivating stage presence. She is particularly famous for her role as Carmen in Bizet’s opera, which she has performed at leading theaters, such as the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, and Metropolitan Opera.

Latvian choir phenomena

Singing is ubiquitous in Latvia. Choral singing has been a part of music education in schools for generations, and the country has a rich treasury of national folk songs that everyone knows, appreciates, and loves to sing whenever possible. With the 8th World Choir Games held in 2014, Latvia proved to be the perfect destination for this renowned event that celebrates the love for singing.

Latvian choirs, both professional and amateur, have gained international recognition for their endeavors.

Sinfonietta Rīga

Grammy-winning State Chamber Orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga was founded in 2006. Sinfonietta Rīga musicians are accomplished, erudite and bursting with creativity. They are assiduous students of the musical heritage of Baroque era and the First and Second Viennese School, as well as eager presenters of the musical phenomena and styles of the 20th century, while continuing to look for the brightest revelations in contemporary music scene. Along with active concert life in Latvia and the other two Baltic States, Sinfonietta Rīga has performed in the Royal Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw Halls in Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne, the Herkulessaal in Munich and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. Sinfonietta Rīga has also conquered the hearts of audience in the Lincoln Center in New York, U.S.A.

Photo from the Archive of State Choir Latvija

State Choir Latvija

As the largest professional choir in the Baltic States, the State Choir Latvija is frequently sought after to perform in the concert schedules of top orchestras and conductors worldwide. Māris Sirmais, the artistic director of the choir, has led the ensemble in presenting numerous essential pieces from the vocal-symphonic repertoire. These include works such as Leonard Bernstein’s “Joan of Arc at the Stake” Mass, and Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” and “Oedipus Rex.”

© State Choir Kamēr


Founded in Riga, Latvia in 1990, Kamēr… is a mixed youth choir that has achieved several national and international accolades, including being the the 1st and currently the only choir having won the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing three times – in 2004, 2013, and 2019. The choir showcases its talents at various events in Latvia and globally, collaborating with esteemed musicians and orchestras.

Experience the thrilling Latvian music scene – with festivals and a diverse range of artists

Riga is a popular stop for international musicians on their world tours, with venues like Arena Riga, Mežaparks Great Bandstand, and Palladium frequently hosting world-class bands and performers. Various annual music festivals also offer attendees a diverse lineup of talented performers.

Music festivals you can't miss out on

  • Latvia’s premier music festival, captivates audiences with its star-studded lineup, diverse entertainment, and lively atmosphere. The festival has won the highly coveted award for Best Festival in Europe by The Festival Guide (UK).

    The “Positivus” festival  is famous for its star-studded performances, featuring world-renowned artists like Muse, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, Sigur Rós, Sinéad O’Connor, and many others. Along with these household names, hundreds of local and international musicians across generations have graced the festival’s stage. Positivus is frequently mentioned in international media as a must-attend event – with its distinctive appeal and top-notch performers, the festival is certainly a unique experience.

  • An annual celebration of cutting-edge music, with supplementary events throughout the year. The festival “Skaņu Mežs” offers a diverse range of both innovative and popular musical styles. The festival has previously hosted international acts such as Squarepusher, Autechre, Peter Brotzmann, Swans, and various Latvian artists.

  • A unique music festival that was established in 2013 and has been held annually ever since. The aim is to offer audiences a classical chamber music festival with the vibe of a small rock festival. The festival features diverse music from different eras and styles, with a focus on promoting contemporary chamber music. Starting in 2016, the festival expanded to include other art forms such as circus, dance, theater, and performance art. The Sansusī experience is characterized by experimentation and surprise, consistently impressing audiences year after year.

  • One of the most popular and beloved music festivals in Latvia, showcases a dynamic range of musical talents on its various stages throughout Riga. Over the years, the “Rīgas ritmi” festival has established itself as an integral part of the Latvian cultural scene and has put Riga on the map in the world of jazz. With over 650 musicians from around the world and over 1000 concerts, the festival has been attended by more than 200 thousand fans. With its emphasis on contemporary jazz and improvisation, the festival continues to attract audiences from near and far.

  • An exceptional musical event that occurs annually in August. The concert is held on a lake with the attendees viewing the show from boats. Beginning at 4 a.m. while it is still dark, the concert starts with minimalist music that gradually increases in intensity as dawn approaches. The performance lasts approximately three hours, with the performers kept anonymous prior to the event. It’s a truly distinctive occasion where the environment, the play of light at dawn, and the music are all equal components of the experience.

The Opera – a cultural gem in the heart of Riga

The Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) is a must-visit destination for cultural enthusiasts. During the season from September to May, it typically stages six new opera and ballet performances.

LNOB frequently partners with international performers and directors, creating a truly exceptional viewing experience.

The opera house itself is a magnificent architectural feat located in the center of Riga. In the 1990s, the Opera House underwent reconstruction and restoration to preserve its historical interior and add a new complex with modern facilities and a 300-seat hall for art projects.

Did you know, that...

Latvia has a unique connection to Richard Wagner – on January 23, 1919, the Latvian National Opera presented its first production in its current building, which was Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman.” The famous composer lived and wrote music in Riga from 1837 to 1839, where he started composing his first global hit, the grand opera “Rienzi.”

© Latvian National Theatre archive

Latvia has nurtured numerous exceptional opera vocalists with worldwide acclaim. Elīna Garanča, Aleksandrs Antoņenko, Marina Rebeka, Inese Galante, and Kristīne Opolais are some of the renowned Latvian opera singers who have made their mark globally.

Latvian ballet has a close connection to the traditions of the Russian school of classical ballet and has produced notable figures such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Māris Liepa, and Alexander Godunov. The Latvian National Ballet, established in 1922, maintains a repertoire that includes both classical ballet and contemporary productions.

Latvian folk music: preserving and revitalizing the tradition

Latvian traditional folklore, including the dance and folk songs, has a history spanning more than a thousand years, with over 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs discovered to date. Today, various artists take inspiration from this material to create music that remains faithful to tradition while infusing it with a contemporary sensibility.

Laima Jansone © Mārīte Meļņika, Radio of Latvia

Laima Jansone – a renowned kokle player

The kokle, Latvia’s equivalent of the zither, is a plucked stringed instrument that is renowned for its distinct sound and musical qualities. Laima Jansone has brought the unique and evocative atmosphere of the kokle to audiences both in Latvia and around the world. She has collaborated with notable musicians such as Latvia’s State Chamber Orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga and the Latvian Radio Choir.

©Kristaps Kalns

Iļģi – post-folklore pioneers

The band Iļģi is widely regarded as the trailblazer of post-folklore music in Latvia. Originally functioning as a folklore ensemble, performing traditional folk music, they gradually moved towards a more liberal interpretation and transformed into the post-folklore genre.

Auļi – folklore inspired ethnic trance

Auļi is a Latvian music group that specializes in bagpipe and drum music. They blend ancient and modern elements to produce distinctive sound, which they refer to as “ethnic trance”. Through a blend of inspiration from the natural world and traditional Latvian folk music, they craft fresh and distinctive compositions.


Tautumeitas – unique ethnopop

Tautumeitas, an ethno-pop ensemble, has become a highly acclaimed group by blending traditional folklore with contemporary sounds and instruments. Their performances and music videos also feature stunning Latvian folk costumes adorned with intricate headdresses. By blending the essence of ancient folk songs with contemporary interpretations, Tautumeitas deliver captivating musical performance.

Learn more