Latvian Conductor

Normunds SNE


He was born in 1960 in the family with strong and old musical traditions. In spite of it, he was not a wunderkind at all for whom everything in the music should be easy. He at first studied violin with his father and there was not lot of success in these early years. Later he changed violin to viola and then to oboe. Together with the studies at the Latvian Academy of Music under the leadership of Professor Vilnis Pelnens, he spent his late teens and twenties with Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. In 1986 he studied chamber music with professor Tamara Fidler (St. Petersburg Conservatory) and in 1993 with Heinz Holliger in Bern. He has gained regards as an oboist in several national and Baltic region competitions.

As now, his musical talent was always very versatile. From his teens for more then ten years he was also a sound engineer, guitar player and oboist of various Latvian rock and new age groups - Salve, Marana, Sipoli etc. He was also an informed jazz listener and had followed ECM's directions from the middle 1970s. He won the 1st prize in the World Championship of the Radio Amateur Communications in May 1980.

In 1987 Normunds together with pianist Janis Maleckis formed an orchestra Rigas Kamermuziki (Riga Chamber Players) and at present time is the Artistic Director of this internationally renowned musical organization, presenting about 17 concert programs per season. He seriously started his conducting career in 1995 with the studies with Professor Yuri Simonov in Budapest and Miskolc, later with Professor Jorma Panula in Amsterdam and Professor Imants Resnis in Riga.

From 1993 Normunds changed his status in the LNSO - he took the post of the assistant and from 1996 to 1998 - the conductor of the Latvian National Symphony. From 1997 to 1999 he was the Guest Conductor of City of Liepaja Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra during its tour in Switzerland and France in October 1993. In 1998 he made his debut in the Latvian National Opera with N. Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade; after that Normunds was invited regularly: in 1999 season he was Music Director in Mozart's Don Giovanni staging, in April 2000 he conducted the world premiere of Latvian composers' Juris Karlsons ballet The Silver Veil, in 2000/2001 season - Igor Stravinsky' The Rite of Spring, this year - Dmitri Shostakovich's The Limpid Stream. In July 1998 he made his debut with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and was invited again for the 1999 season. Several times he performed with the Ostrobothnian Orchestra - both as a soloist and conductor. With Riga Chamber Players Normunds made his London debut at St. John's, Smith Square in September 1999 with the first London performance of the works by Vasks, Maskats, Gorecki and Metcalf, the same program was performed at The Vales of Glamourgan Music Festival.

There are two main trends in Normunds' interests and repertoire - the Baroque and Vienna classics, the other belongs to the great composers of the 20th century - Mahler, Berg, Bartok, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Lutoslawski, Berio, Lindberg, Reich, as well as Latvians Vasks, Plakidis, Maskats, Karlsons, Kronlaks, Petraskevics. In spring 1999 with support by Latvia Universal Bank he started new project Riga Festival Orchestra. It performs twice in a year masterpieces of the 20th century. The first concert was played in March 20th, 1999 and there was G. Mahler's 9th Symphony in the program. In Autumn '99 Tatyana Grindenko joined the RFO. The real success came with the third concert in March 2000 - there were standing ovations after Luciano Berio' Sinfonia (together with Latvian Radio Choir) and Peteris Vasks' 2nd Symphony. Normunds' skills as an orchestra-builder is established and recognized by such musicians as Mstislav Rostropovich, Juha Kangas, Tatyana Grindenko, Steve Reich, jazz legends Joe Zawinul and Terje Rypdal ("From the very first rehearsal I found it very easy to work with Normunds Sne. He seemed to know all the right tempo nuances, all the right fermatas and so on..."). He can spent lot of time at the rehearsals and his inclination for the perfection of the performance is indefatigably. In 2002 Riga Festival Orchestra was awarded with Latvian Great Music Prize.

Together with Riga Chamber Players and Riga Festival Orchestra Normunds recorded CD's for BIS and ECM labels works of Latvian composer Arturs Maskats and Terje Rypdal. He has performed as a conductor and oboist in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Russia, The Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom etc. He had successful collaboration with, among others, Gidon Kremer, Christian Lindberg, Peter Donohoe, Ernst Kovacic, Nikolai Petrov, Truls O'Mjork, Lasar Berman, Natalie Gutman, Valdis Zarins, Stanislav Igolinsky, Craig Ogden, Marko Ylönen, Dieter Flury, David Geringas, Crispian Steele-Perkins.