Jānis Ozols (1980) is one of the well-recognized and promising new conductors in Latvia and is also known as one of the former vocal group “Cosmos” singers.
Jānis started to obtain his musical education in Emīls Dārziņš Music School, later continuing it in Riga Cathedral Choir School’s class of choir conducting. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music also 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”, Jānis 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.
Besides singing in “Cosmos” Jānis has proven him as one of the most talented Latvian conductors. He has reached notable achievements and won many prizes in Latvia and abroad. Jānis is conducting choir “Maska” which he established in 2000 and that is now one of the best amateur choirs in Latvia. Jānis has also proven his talent by taking the honourable 3rd place in the International Conductor Contest of Jazeps Vitols in 2009 as well as by attaining the unique and unprecedented prize of “The Best Young Conductor” in the 49th International Choir Singing Contest “Seghizzi” in Italy for which he was invited to take part in the jury in 2011.
Jānis takes active role in the field of academic music in Latvia, being the conductor and artistic director of several choirs and the head conductor of Riga region choirs of the XXV Latvian Song festival.
Jānis 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 two, and proud owner of two cats. He also manages to squeeze in his hobby in the tight schedule of his – Jānis likes to cook and publishes his culinary achievements in his blog “Restaurant at Home and not only…” (dirigents.blogspot.com)
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. Most significant of them is creating short video clips that has transformed into a professional form, since Laura has become an anchor person (“Hobby Saturday”, TV360). When Laura is alone, you will always find a book by her side.
Eduards Vācietis (1989) 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 lead 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) and others.
In 2013 gave F. Schubert vocal music concerts in Rundāle and Riga. Eduards also has cooperated with “Latvijas Koncerti”, singing solos of “Elijah” by F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy, “Carmina Burana” by K. Orff and others. Has participated in dubbing the BBC series “War and piece”. 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.
Since August 2013 Eduards is an artist and soloist in The State Choir Latvija, as well as teacher in vocal department of Riga Cathedral Choir School.
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.