Jaunā Gaita nr. 117, 1978

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JG 117

The lead article in this issue is Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga's address on the occasion of the Latvian Day of Independence, November 18, 1977. Entitled „On Liberty", it touches on three different types of freedom: the political freedom of the Latvian state, the civil liberties of the Latvian people, and the spiritual freedom of the Latvian community in exile. De facto political freedom was lost when Latvia allowed Russian forces to enter the country, and Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga argues that the recovery of that freedom (often represented as the goal of Latvian activity in exile) has been hopeless for almost forty years. The de jure right to self-determination, however, still belongs to the Latvian people. Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga suggests that Latvian exiles assist in the fight for this civil liberty by publishing violations of rights provided for in the Constitution of Soviet Latvia. The problem of freedom among the exiles is of a different sort: we are concerned with national and cultural freedom from external oppression, and not with personal freedom within the national or cultural group. A difference of opinion, however legitimate, is often treated by large segments of exile society as a betrayal of Latvian goals and ideals. These segments insist that Latvian artists relinquish their creative autonomy for a political end; Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga notes that a parallel argument is also used in Soviet Latvia. She concludes that the attempt to impose a single vision of the Latvian ideal and a single program for its attainment is itself a betrayal of democratic freedoms and a threat to the continued development of a living Latvian culture.

Also in this issue is Ilze Šķipsna's interview with Laima Kalniņa. Kalniņa shared the 1977 Jaunsudrabiņš Prize for prose, while Šķipsna was herself the first winner of this prize. As Kalniņa talks about her life, describes early influences, and discusses her own works, published and in progress, the interview becomes an exchange on a variety of questions dealing with literary creativity. The discussion ranges far beyond the Latvian tradition, as in the treatment of Kalniņa's indebtedness to Alain Robbe-Grillet and the French nouveau roman, but such excursions serve only to illuminate Kalniņa's unique achievement.

Three articles in this issue deal with Latvian song festivals in London and in Rīga, Andris Vītoliņš gives us the first part of his observations on the London festival, in which he participated as spectator, conductor, and composer. He writes here as an outspoken music critic and general commentator, evaluating performances, works, and the festival as a whole. A part of this installment of his article is devoted to a commentary on his own four "Songs of Fate", settings of poems by Andrejs Eglītis and V.Strēlerte executed between 1959 and 1968.

Soviet Latvian author J. Pīlādzis contributes an account of the song festival in Riga. He stresses the vitality of the 104-year-old song festival traditon, mentioning the thousands of choirs that competed for a spot on the program, and the great public demand that caused the organizers to extend the festival schedule. The international success of the womens's choir "Dzintars", conducted by Ausma Derkēvica and Imants Kokars, at festivals in the Netherlands and Italy attests to the excellence of Latvian choral music, as does the generous praise accorded to singers in the festival by guest participants from Japan. Anita Liepiņa enters a dissenting view of the Rīga festival. She contends that this festival, once the focus of Latvian culture, has now become an instrument for undermining that culture in the hands of the Soviet authorities. The program was diluted by a large proportion of non-Latvian material, while the official dedication of the festival to the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution and the 37th of Soviet Latvia further minimized the purely Latvian significance of the event.

The Latvian-American actors, Laimonis and Brigita Siliņš, appeared in a production of Harijs Gulbis' play The Wind Sings Softly in the Fireplace in Rīga in October, 1977. Laimonis Siliņš reports on this event and describes his feelings during the preparations and the performance. He concludes that their experience has advanced the cause of free cultural exchange.

JG artistic editor Ilmārs Rumpēters reports on the First Exhibition of Baltic Artists in New York, a major event sponsored by the recently founded Baltic artists' organization, "Baltia". Forty-two artists contributed ninety works to this exibition, held at the Lithuanian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on the 29th and 30th of October, 1977. Rumpēters' article is illustrated with pictures of many of these works, and one of them, Lithuanian artist Adele Ulm Augustas' "Onward", appears on the frontispiece.

The literary section in this issue also includes a work connected with the Latvian song festival -Tālivaldis Ķiķauka's cycle of "Travel Sketches VII 1977". This work turns a poet's eye on Rīga and allows us to share some of its sights and sounds as well as the author's reflections on them. Two major Soviet Latvian poets are represented, Imants Ziedonis by an extract from his important new work, "A Poem about Milk", and Jānis Peters by a short poem, "A Motif from Gunārs Priede", Ontons Zvīdris contributes a short poem in Latgallian, and Aina Kraujiete a translation of a poem by Andrei Voznesenski. There are also poems by Māra Kalmane, Roberts Mūks, Inārs Brēdrichs, Eduards Patvaldnieks, Guna Ikona, Irma Bērziņa, Jānis Svilāns, Juris Mazutis, Maija Meirāne. Oļģerts Rozitis' "The Ruler" is a short prose allegory, and Agnis Rozītis' "A Song about Mother" escapes easy classification.

The cover is by Ilgvars Steins.


Dr. Jānis Svilpis

Jaunā Gaita