Jaunā Gaita nr. 211, decembris 1997

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JG 211

This issue continues with tributes to the memory of Laimonis Zandbergs, our late editor-in-chief, from J. Zommers, I. Lindbergs, R. Ekmanis, R. Bregžis, V. Toma, M. Ķirsons and P. Vasariņš. Prof. Rolfs Ekmanis of Arizona State University, a former contributing editor of JG, has accepted an invitation to become the new editor-in-chief starting with issue 212. Prof. Ekmanis is the author of Latvian Literature Under the Soviets, 1940-1975 and was the editor of the American Latvian Association-sponsored magazine Latvija šodien (Latvia Today) from 1980 to 1991, as well as head of the Latvian section of Radio Free Europe for a number of years.

Rolfs Ekmanis has contributed a thorough analysis of Benjamiņš Jēgers' 5-volume Latviešu trimdas izdevumu bibliografija (Bibliography of Latvian Exile Publications) which documents in detail 6299 books, pamphlets, periodicals and maps published by members of the Latvian exile community from 1945 to 1996. The bibliography was a life-long project of Prof. Jēgers and was meticulously published by Daugava in Sweden and (recently) Latvia.

The two final acts of Uldis Siliņš' play Zem dienvidu krusta (Under the Southern Cross) about the aftermath of the 1905 revolution in Latvia occupy a major portion of this issue. One of the lead actors in the television version of the play, Edmunds Freibergs, contributes a description of the filming of the play for Latvian TV.

This issue continues with the publication of selected letters from Kārlis Ulmanis (later President of Latvia) to his friend Hermanis Enzelinš. Written between 1904 and 1907 from Leipzig, Germany, the letters deal mostly with agriculture but there are also interesting comments about czarist censorship and restrictions and how events in Latvia are reported in the German press, forming a historical backdrop to Siliņš' play.

Grants, the pseudonym of an author living in Latvia, has contributed a witty variation on the cat and mouse theme in his short story "The Trap". This is Grants' first publication.

The X Latvian Song Festival in the USA was held on July 25 to 27 of this year in Cleveland, Ohio. Contributing editor Gunta Plostniece notes that each day of the festival featured concerts, art exhibits, literary events, dance performances and a musical theatre production. The main event of the festival was the traditional massed choir concert, with about 400 singers, along with children's and youth choirs. Many outstanding musicians participated in the festival, including pianist Arturs Ozoliņš (Canada), violinist Rasma Lielmane (Mexico), soprano Antra Bigača (Latvia) and baritone Andrejs Martens (USA). Dace Aperāne (USA) reports on the festival's concert of sacred music, which featured organ soloist Dāvids Šmits (Canada), a combined choir of 100 voices from the USA and Canada, as well as a chamber choir led by Gunta Plostniece which performed a number of more demanding vocal pieces. Aperāne concludes that Pēteris Vasks' (Latvia) setting of the Lord's Prayer was the most moving work on the programme.

Nora Kūla (USA) reports on one of the highlights of the festival, the musical Laimes reibonī (a pun on the words for happiness and gambling luck), based on a play by the Latvian classical author Rūdolfs Blaumanis, with music by Andrejs Jansons (USA) and libretto by Arnolds Auziņš (Latvia). Most of the cast was drawn from the New York Latvian Concert Choir, with Jansons conducting and Arnolds Liniņš (Latvia) directing.

The work of the two poets, Inese Račevska and Ivars Lindbergs (both living in the USA) in this issue's poetry section, was first heard at the Cleveland song festival. Also presented is a long poem by Pēteris Birznieks dedicated to "all elderly poets". Valda Mora (USA) celebrated her 95'th birthday this year. JG marks this event with a selection of her poems. It should also be noted that our new poetry editor Inta Ezergaile (USA) begins her tenure in this issue.

Juris Žagariņš, editor of the "Kiberkambaris" section, contributes a recent discussion in the SVEIKS Internet forum on the subject of democracy. A participant from Latvia relates a "Fairytale of Democracy" to make the point that the problem in Latvia today is not so much a lack of freedom as a lack of will to assume responsibility for democracy and free speech.

Prof. Gundars Ķeniņš-King (USA) analyses the strengths and weaknesses of higher education in Latvia, focusing on three aspects: the need to clearly state the goals of higher education, relations between staff and students, and the qualifications (or lack of such) of the professional staff. He notes progress in several areas with financial and technical help from other countries, the Soros Fund and others.

The books section features Biruta Sūrmane's interview with novelist Indra Gubiņa (Canada) on the occasion of the publication of her new novel Kā es tevi mīlēju (How I loved you). Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia) reviews Aina Zemdega's (Canada) latest collection of poetry Bargā laikā (Harsh Times), concluding that it is an altogether fine and enjoyable book.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters (USA) and the frontispiece is by Vija Celmiņa (USA).


Jaunā Gaita