Sun Dogs at the International Sacred Music Festival in Riga

On 25 August, State Choir Latvija and conductor Stephen Layton will perform Ēriks’ work Sun Dogs at the 2018 International Sacred Music Festival in St Peter’s Church, Riga. The concert will also include Poulenc’s Four Motets in Time of Penitence (1938–39) and Martin’s Mass for Double Chorus (1922, 1926).

Sun Dogs was commissioned and premiered by the Latvian Radio Choir and conductor Sigvards Kļava in 2007 and recorded by State Choir Latvija on At the Foot of the Sky (2013). Ēriks writes about his work: ‘Parhelion or sun dogs are vivid spots of light in the sky that are formed by ice crystals high in the atmosphere that refract sunlight. This phenomenon can be seen when the sun is close to the horizon. There are many historical writings about this natural phenomenon, which is most often observed in the north and is also closely associated with mysticism, as well as amazement. In the first section of the work, I have used quotations from ancient letters (written before our era and the Renaissance), focusing on eyewitness observations and experiences. In the second section I have drawn the beauty of the phenomenon itself.’

Stephen Layton, founder and director of Polyphony, fellow and director of music at Trinity College Cambridge and music director of Holst Singers, has a longstanding association with music from the Baltic, including recordings of works by Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, and Uģis Prauliņš. He has recorded Ēriks’ works on Passion and Resurrection with Polyphony (Hyperion, 2011) and Northern Lights with The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge (Hyperion, 2015). Layton recently returned from a Germany tour with The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, which included Ēriks’ work The Heavens’ Flock, a setting of a poem by Paulann Petersen: