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Artist Hyperion Records
Sirmais, Māris (conductor)
© Ansis Starks

Māris Sirmais (conductor)

Māris Sirmais is one of Latvia’s most significant conductors, a charismatic leader and a driving force in Latvian choral music. Under his more than twenty years of leadership, the State Choir Latvija has become one of Europe’s best-known choirs.

Sirmais has conducted concerts at the Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Koerner Hall (Toronto), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow), Lincoln Center (New York), Tonhalle (Zürich) and Stavanger Concert Hall, and at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein Musik and Lockenhaus Chamber Music festivals. He has collaborated closely with many world-class musicians and composers, including violinist Gidon Kremer, conductor Mariss Jansons, organist Iveta Apkalna, violist Maxim Rysanov, and composers Giya Kancheli and Rodion Shchedrin.

Sirmais has conducted the Berlin Radio, MDR Leipzig Radio, Netherlands Chamber, Netherlands Children’s, Singapore’s ONE Chamber and Lithuania’s Polifonija choirs, and orchestras including Kremerata Baltica, the Moscow Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra, Umeå Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Strings and State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’. He performs regularly with almost all of Latvia’s professional orchestras.

The founder of one of the most vibrant symbols of Latvian choral culture, the youth choir Kamēr…, Sirmais was its Chief Conductor from 1990 to 2012. He is an active participant in the Latvian Song and Dance Festival, a nationwide amateur-choir event; since 1998, he has been a Chief Conductor of the festival, and he was the Artistic Director for the 2008 Gala Concert. Sirmais teaches choral conducting at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, and sits on the juries of several international choral and choral conducting competitions. He also gives popular masterclasses.

Vocal-instrumental works play a large role in Sirmais’s concert programmes; such works have included Poulenc’s Gloria and Stabat mater, Pärt’s Credo and Te Deum, Kancheli’s Styx, Honegger’s A Christmas cantata and Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, Tavener’s Svyati, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Adams’s Harmonium, Taneyev’s John of Damascus and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. An active promoter of new choral music, Sirmais regularly commissions and premieres pieces by Latvian composers, many of which have become staples of the canon and are now sung by choirs worldwide. Sirmais maintains close and years-long professional relationships with Latvian composers Pēteris Vasks, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Rihards Dubra, Raimonds Tiguls and Raimonds Pauls. In anticipation of Latvia’s centenary year in 2018, a project initiated by Sirmais—‘Latvian Composers for the Centenary of Latvia’—saw commissions of new works by more than seventy-five composers. In five concerts over the course of three years, Sirmais and the State Choir Latvija premiered a vibrant array of choral music, culminating in a grand finale concert on 4 May 2018. In honour of the event, Musica Baltica published a selection of these works.

Sirmais is a Bearer of the Order of the Three Stars, an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of many titles and awards for his achievements in culture and for promoting the name of Latvia overseas.


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Complete works available for download

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