Mixed choir “MASKA” of Babīte Municipality, was founded in 2000 by its conductor and artistic director Jānis Ozols is one of the best mixed choirs in Latvia. The choir is unique by its ability to perform not only in the frame of classical music, but also introduce creative innovations.
“MASKA” is proud of its success and high achievements over time. Since early days the choir has shown itself as an ambitious and creative collective, while actively performing in Latvia and abroad as well as taking part in international choir competitions (Italy , Slovenia , Czech Republic , Estonia , Finland , Germany , The Netherlands , Spain , Australia , Japan , Sweden and others).
Choir’s repertoire covers a vast range of music – from sacral to folk, classical to contemporary music, always searching for new interpretations of choral music and enriching their performance often surprising the audience with ingenious performance solutions. The choir cooperates with beloved and world-known Latvian musicians – such as marimba and percussions virtuoso and composer Rihards Zaļupe, Renāte Stivriņa, Jānis Šipkēvics (Shipsea), Jānis Ķirsis, the world famous pianist and composer Vestards Šimkus and Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miškinis, Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg have dedicated their compositions to choir “MASKA”.
An essential part of the choir’s repertoire is compositions written by Laura Jēkabsone – choir-master of “MASKA”, world-wide known as a composer and leader of the vocal group “Latvian Voices”. Her pieces composed for “MASKA” are performed worldwide in concerts and competitions.
Choir’s annual tradition is organizing a concert at Christmas time “ChristMASKAs”, performing world premieres of opuses commissioned to the choir with the best Latvian musicians.
The choir has released three CDs:
The records are available in streaming services. You can find out more in the section “Music”.
In August 2019 the choir will be represented Latvia in the international competition “Eurovision Choir 2019” in Gothenburg, Sweden, gaining 2nd place.
Jānis Ozols (1980) is one of the well-recognized and promising conductors in Latvia, Artistic Director of the “International Baltic Sea Choir Competition”, and is also known as one of the former vocal group “Cosmos” singers.
Currently he takes active role in the field of academic music in Latvia and abroad, being the conductor and artistic director of the Jāzeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Latvia Mixed Choir and mixed choirs “Maska” and “Pa Saulei”. He is also often working as jury member at international choir and singer competitions.
Jānis Ozols is the head conductor of Riga and Jurmala Region choirs and since 2018 he is member of the board of the Latvian Song Festival Foundation and Member of the Latvian National Centre for Culture Council in sector of choirs.
He was the Artistic Director of the Opening concert and the Sing-Along Night of the XXVI Latvian Song Celebration which took place in July 2018.
Jānis Ozols obtained his musical education in Emīls Dārziņš Music School and Riga Cathedral Choir School’s class of choir conducting. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music in the class of choir conducting with the professor Sigvards Kļava and a master’s degree in choir conducting was supported by professor Jānis Zirnis. During 2013 and 2014 Jānis Ozols studied symphony orchestra conducting in Royal College of Music, Stockholm.
While being the baritone singer of the vocal a cappella group “Cosmos”, Janis has worked along with world known musicians. This includes master classes and concerts with Bobby McFerrin, “The Real Group”, “Take 6”, “The Manhattan Transfer”, “The Hilliard Ensemble”, “The New York Voices” and the Icelandic music icon Björk. “Cosmos” were the winners of contest “New Wave” in 2004. They have attained several prestige prizes and awards through different contests and events including the Great Latvian Music Award in 2009.
Jānis Ozols has reached notable achievements and won many prizes in Latvia and abroad with mixed choirs “Maska” and “Pa Saulei”. He has also proven his talent by taking the honourable 3rd place in the International Conductor Contest of Jāzeps Vītols in 2009 as well as by attaining many “Best Conductor” prizes at international choir competitions.
He does not stop at the achieved and constantly keeps developing himself. His musical view and interpretation often differs from the usual. Being open to creative innovations and musical experiments is what highlights him among other conductors and helps in fulfilling his own ideas which are highly appreciated both by music professionals and lovers.
Jānis is married, a father of three, and proud owner of two cats and a dog. He also manages to squeeze in his hobby in the tight schedule – Jānis likes to cook and you can find some of his culinary achievements published in his blog “Restaurant at Home and not only…”.
Laura Jēkabsone (1985) is a diverse artist, who is well-known as the leader of vocal group “Latvian Voices” and composer.
Laura started her musical education in Jāzeps Mediņš Secondary Music School where in 2005 graduated from class of choir conducting. She continued her studies in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music in 2009 acquiring a bachelor’s degree in music education.
In addition to the academic education, Laura has attended master classes in choir conducting with Rafael Immos (Switzerland) and a capella singing with King Singers (United Kingdom), The Hilliard Ensemble (United Kingdom) and Kim Nazarian (New York Voices, USA).
Laura has been a part of Latvian academic and choir music for a quite a long time, already since year 2000 working as a music educator and conducting various collectives. First one that Laura took the lead of was Tilža House of Culture children’s vocal study “Evrili”. It was followed by becoming artistic director of E. Kauliņš Lielvārde High school mixed choir “Bel Canto”, meanwhile taking the leadership of Skrīveri Culture centre women vocal ensemble “Akcents”, where she is still working. Laura was a music educator of preparatory class in Riga Cathedral Choir School. Since 2006 Laura is an integral part of choir “Maska”.
In 2009 Laura together with six other genial singers founded vocal ensemble “Latvian Voices” that definitely has a special place in her life. Most of “Latvian Voices” original music is created by Laura. Together with the ensemble she has won Vokal Total contest in Graz, Austria (2011), A Capella festival in Leipzig, Germany (2012) and 7th World Choir Games in Cincinnati, USA (2012).
Besides signing, Laura Jēkabsone is a recognized composer both locally in Latvia and globally. She has won vocal group’s Amarcord (Germany) arrangement contest (2011) for an arrangement of Latvian folk song “Pūt Vējiņi”. Laura was also nominated for Contemporary A Capella Award for Best folk/world song (2014) and has got into the final of International Jan Sibelius composition contest (2015). She is creating original compositions for a variety of musical collectives. Choir “Maska” is proud to perform Laura’s original music and choir’s favourite piece “Dindaru Dandaru” has been included in the collection “Latvian Voices: Dziesmu izlase I” (2015), where Laura’s a capella compositions for women choirs and ensembles have been compiled. In 2015 Laura was asked to create a special composition for XI Latvian School and Youth Song Festival’s concert of sacred music “Prayer for Latvia”, for what she created an arrangement of most popular Lithuanian church melody “Marija, Marija”. The latest compositions created by Laura was done in cooperation with Swedish a capella group “The Real Group”, creating an arrangement of Latvian folk song “Tumša nakte, zaļa zāle”.
In the spare time of music world, Laura spends time with her friends, doing many other creative activities. She has been an anchor person (“Hobby Saturday”, TV360) for several years, she is giving lectures in schools and conferences. When Laura is alone, you will always find a book by her side.
Eduards Vācietis (1989) is the vocal teacher and singer of “Maska” since 2013. He has a bachelor’s degree from The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, vocal class of Barbro Marklund-Petersone. In 2009 Eduards graduated from Riga Cathedral Choir School, vocal singing class of Valda Tračuma.
Already in his childhood, Eduards proved himself as a talented and perspective singer, taking part in V.A. Mozart’s “Magic flute” in The Latvian National Opera (he was one of the three geniuses). Eduards has participated in master classes lead by Association of Latvian vocal pedagogues. 1st prize in Alīna Vāne international vocalist contest (2008), 3rd prize in State vocalist contests in Daugavpils (2008). Participated in Stuttgart Bach academy’s project, which was led by Helmuth Rilling, carrying out “War requiem” by Benjamin Britten (2007). Participated in the staging of W.A.Mozart’s “Don Jon” in Wilhelm theatre in Stuttgart (2013) as well as in Oslo Opera festival (2013). Has participated in various master classes lead by Sir Thomas Allen (The United Kingdom), Anita Garanča (Latvia), David L. Jones (USA), Emma Kirkby (The United Kingdom), Benton Hess (USA), Joseph Protschka (Germany) and others.
In 2013 Eduards gave F. Schubert vocal music concerts in Rundāle Castle and Riga Latvian Society House. Eduards also has cooperated with concert organization “Latvijas Koncerti”, singing solos of “Elijah” by F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy, “Carmina Burana” by K. Orff and others. He has participated in dubbing the BBC series “War and peace” and soundtrack of Rihards Zalupe music for movie “The Pagan King”. His debut as a baritone in large form genre to Latvian audience could be considered the role of Pontius Pilate in the stating of John Passion by Andris Veismanis in 2016.
In 2018 Eduards performed the baritone solo for Raimonds Pauls “Leo dziesma” from the play “Leo. Pēdējā bohēma” (“Leo’s Song”, “Leo. Last Bohemia”) with the State Choir “Latvija” and Liepaja Symphony Orchestra in the concert hall “Great Amber” in Liepaja with maestro Raimonds Pauls at the piano. In the beginning of 2019 he performed the baritone part of cantata “Dievs, Tava zeme deg!” (“God, Your Earth Is Burning!”) at its 75th Anniversary year in the place it was premiered – the St. Gertrude Old Church in Riga.
Since August 2013 Eduards is an artist and soloist in The State Choir Latvija and works as choirmaster in Seja Municipality mixed choir “Sēja” since 2018.
During his leisure time Eduards tries to be active – be it hiking, enjoying the nature or sports such as floor-ball and basketball. The long and dark winter evenings are spent with friends-enthusiasts “screwing” and reanimating old motorcycles, so during the summer the results can be enjoyed and summer breeze caught driving the bikes.
July 16, 2019 choir MASKA began its longest and most ambitious tour, where we had planned three competitions in three weeks and a few concerts on top of that.
The first part of the tour was really successful as choir managed to get gold prizes both in renaissance and contemporary music categories as well as Grand Prix of 35th Takarazuka International chamber choir competition. It is a great joy that Latvians have come up winning the event repeatedly, since Youth choir “Kamēr…” had already done it a few years ago.
Japan tour continued with choir MASKA performing a 2-hour solo concert in Kyoto’s Nagaokakyo Memorial culture centre Great Hall on July 23. It was a great honour to perform in the concert series with such world-famous artists as The King’s Singers, Sofia Vokalensamble and KammerChor Saabrucken. MASKA was very well recieved, as we got a lot of really nice words and best wishes for following events. We believe that many of our new Japanese fans are listening to our newest CD “Dedication”.
The next day MASKA caught a bullet train to Tokyo, where a special master class was held wiht Japanese choir “Gaisma”, working on pieces of Latvian choral music. Later choirs held a concert in Morishita Culture centre hall, performing 3 Latvian choir pieces together. On July 25 the two choirs met again in a very warm and friendly acceptance in Embassy of Latvia in Japan, having nice talks, building new friendships and of course – singing together.
The following days in Tokyo were spent, participating in 2nd Tokyo International Choir Competition), which is one of the four legs for World choral Grand Prix. MASKA performed in mixed choir category, where we came 1st and contemporary music category, where we landed 2nd place. Having the possibility to perform in the final round, we performed “Stars” by Ēriks Ešenvalds as well as two pieces that are dedicated to our choir – Part Uusberg’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and “Nāc, Dieviņi!” by Laura Jēkabsone. Performing these beautiful pieces to our best capabilities let us win the Grand Prix of the competition and be nominated to the final of World Choral Grand Prix in fall of 2020 in Rimini, Italy.
The grand tour was wrapped up in Gothenburg, Sweden, where choir MASKA represented Latvia in international TV choir competition “Eurovision Choir 2019”. In the semi-final round MASKA performed powerful “Father Thunder” by Laura Jēkabsone, which granted us a spot in the final round with two other choirs. Performing yet another masterpiece by Laura Jēkabsone – “Nāc, Dieviņi!” – we came up second, wherefore Danish choir “Vocal Line” were crowned the winners of this year’s event, leaving “Jazzva” from Slovenia in 3rd place.
We are truly happy for the support and cheering the choir has felt during these weeks – thank you! Special thanks to Babīte municipality for always supporting us and for the nice welcome home togehter with friends, families, choir “Atskaņa” and members from kokle ensamble “Balti”.
LTV has announced that Koris Maska will represent Latvia at Eurovision Choir of the Year 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The Latvian national broadcaster has announced that Koris Maska will be representing the nation at the second edition of Eurovision Choir of the Year 2019. Koris Maska was selected by a jury at the Latvian broadcaster formed of:
Koris Maska was formed in 2000 and is a mixed choir from the Babīte Municipality. The choir has competed in choral competitions across Europe and has performed in countries such as Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia and Australia.
Reacting to their selection as the Latvian participants for the contest in August, Kaspars Ādamsons commented:
I feel the mythological power that comes from the sounds of nature and Latvian folk songs, gradually growing and culminating in the mighty Thunder. The movement and their synchronous performance give the performance a ritual mystery, while the national singing chamber allows the listener to appreciate the power of Latvian tradition in music.
For many years choir MASKA creates wonderful concerts in the time of advent, performing new Christmas songs and cooperating with greatest Latvian musicians. This time it is the guitar virtuoso Kaspars Zemītis.
Tickets can be found in: bilesuparadize.lv.
Meklējam jaunus dziedātājus, kuri vēlas pievienoties korim MASKA un kopā meklēt jaunas pasaules malas.
Ja jūti, ka dzīvē pietrūkst muzikālu izaicinājumu, un proti dziedāt, gaidīsim Tevi uz noklausīšanos 1. oktobrī.
Lūdzu, aizpildi pieteikuma formu. Par noklausīšanās norisi un konkrētu laiku informēsim Tevi e-pastā.
Informāciju par mēģinājumu norises laikiem un vietu atradīsi sadaļā Kontakti.
Five years have passed and the magical moment, when all choristers join in a unite song is just around the corner. In other words – the XXVI Latvian Song celebration is here, this time dedicated to the Latvian centenary.
We, Choir MASKA, are especially happy to be an important part of the celebration, since we will:
It is a very tense time for the choir, however it is spent with great joy of being together and strengthening the traditions of singing. Hope to see you in the events and concerts. We will be especially happy about the support during the Song wars, where we will perform as #7 in the group that starts at 19:30. More info about this event can be found here.
On May 4 choir “Maska” had the honour to participate in the celebration of the Restoration of independence day, performing a great concert “The stops of freedom” right by the Monument of freedom. Choir is really happy to be a part of the central event of this celebration, especially due to this being the year of Latvian centenary. MASKA starts the performance at 50th minute, however we recommend to watch all the performance, where you will hear some old and some new stories:
Will be performed the version by Desire Dondeyne.