Sventaja – Šventoji

[As the result of a 1921 international border agreement, half a county of ethnically Latvian inhabitants along the Baltic Sea coast ended up in Lithuania instead of Latvia. One positive outcome of this situation that culturally isolated the people there is that their singing traditions survived more or less intact until very recently. For the past 20+ years a couple I know here in Riga has been visiting Sventāja (Šventoji in Lithuanian), the main Latvian village in the area, getting to know the people and recording their songs. A CD + DVD of these field recordings was finally released in late summer of 2010. Since the folklore ensemble I sing with has learned many of these songs, I decided to go to the CD opening event in Sventāja in October 2010, spending the night with friends in Liepāja on the Latvian side of the border. I was curious to see where the songs had come from, hear the local dialect, and maybe even meet some of the original singers.]

Read more