Joy of discovery and perpetual reaching for new horizons are the traits that best describe the Grammy-winning Latvian State Chamber Orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga. Since its foundation in 2006, the orchestra’s artistic director and chief conductor has been Normunds Šnē. 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 the contemporary music scene. Among the ambitions of the orchestra is promotion and development of chamber symphony genre in Latvian music, therefore twice a year Sinfonietta Rīga commissions a new chamber symphony score to contemporary Latvian composers.
Sinfonietta Rīga often collaborates with guest conductors and has staged thematically and stylistically varied programmes together with Paavo Järvi, Heinz Holliger, John Storgårds, Christoph Poppen, Olari Elts, Juha Kangas and Tõnu Kaljuste.
Among the brilliant soloists that have performed together with Sinfonietta Rīga are classical singers Julia Lezhneva and Inga Kalna; pianists Kristian Bezuidenhout, Nelson Goerner, Behzod Abduraimov and Yevgeny Sudbin; internationally renowned Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna; violinists Isabelle Faust, Kolja Blacher, Alina Ibragimova, Vineta Sareika, Baiba Skride, Pekka Kuusisto and Thomas Zehtmair; cellists Sol Gabetta and Jean-Guihen Queyras; and Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysanov. The orchestra has also enjoyed several collaborations with clarinettist and composer Jörg Widmann; trombone soloist Christian Lindberg; percussionists Martin Grubinger, Evelyn Glennie and Peter Erskine; accordionist Ksenija Sidorova; Argentinian bandoneon player Marcelo Nisinman; oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk; and early music experts Andrew Lawrence-King and Enrico Onofri. Over the years, the orchestra has developed a close creative friendship and staged noteworthy programmes with Latvian Radio Choir and its conductor Sigvards Kļava, as well as the State Choir Latvija and its conductor Māris Sirmais.
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. In the Netherlands, the orchestra has performed several times in Rotterdam’s De Doelen as well as in Eindhoven, Groningen and Enschede. Sinfonietta Rīga has also conquered the hearts of audience in the Lincoln Center in New York.
Sinfonietta Rīga is a frequent guest in festivals of various sizes in Latvia and abroad. In 2016 and 2021, led by maestro Paavo Järvi, the orchestra opened the Pärnu Music Festival. Several times, the orchestra has visited the prominent Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. Together with Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Rīga performed a retrospective of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s works at the Elbphilharmonie at the introvert art festival Lux Aeterna (2017) and at the Kissinger Sommer festival in Bavaria (2018). To celebrate the centenary of the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia, in October 2018 Sinfonietta Rīga participated for the first time in the Café Budapest Contemporary Art Festival, and together with accordionist Ksenija Sidorova gave concerts in Malmö, Gothenburg and Örebro concert halls.
Since 2020, Sinfonietta Rīga has begun a new tradition of Summer Nights’ Chamber Music concerts, inviting the audiences for specially curated programmes at the contemporary art centre Zuzeum, Riga.
For its musical and cultural contribution Sinfonietta Rīga has received the Grand Latvian Music Award five times, the latest for the performance of Gérard Grisey’s opus Vortex in the Latvian New Music Days in April 2021. Participation in the recording of Adam’s Lament by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (ECM), brought the orchestra the acclaimed Grammy Award. Sinfonietta Rīga has recorded numerous other albums that have been released by its devoted partners Wergo, Ondine, Onyx, Edition Records, Challenge Records, Signum Records and Latvian national record label SKANI. In 2020, the orchestra released studio albums with violist Maxim Rysanov (BIS Records) and with opera singer Marina Rebeka (Credo, a selection of sacred and spiritual music; Primo Classic). In 2021–2022, Sinfonietta Rīga took part in two albums released by SKANI – the anthology of works by contemporary Latvian composers Platons Buravickis, Ruta Paidere, Andris Dzenītis and Linda Leimane, as well as the double album of composer Krists Auznieks with his opus for electric guitar and chamber orchestra Coiled Horizon, performed by American guitarist JIJI. Sinfonietta Rīga’s latest recording is the debut album Humanity by German cellist Simone Drescher (2022, GWK Records).