The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra (LNSO) is one of the valuable assets of the classical music scene in Latvia. It is a team of highly professional musicians with strong traditions, generous sound and devoted performance. The LNSO mainly focuses on 19th and 20th century orchestral masterpieces, classical and contemporary works of Latvian composers and occasionally concert performances of operas or musicals. The LNSO pays great attention to educational children and youth programmes. For several years, it has successfully performed a series of chamber music programmes, and since 2015 it celebrates the end of the summer in a new festival LNSO vasarnīca (The LNSO Holiday House).
The LNSO has won four Grand Music Awards, the highest classical music prize in Latvia – in 1993, 2009, 2012 and 2013.
Since November 2013, the artistic director of the LNSO is Andris Poga. He has worked with the best orchestras of Europe and Japan – a maestro with splendid technique, deep understanding of the musical form and high demands for impeccably professional reading of music. Andris Poga is never ostentatious, his main strength is in rationally finding the essence of a musical piece and, by faithfully observing the instructions of the composer, powerfully moving the audience or, in other cases, striking a spark of an exciting adventure of sound.
Led by its new maestro, the LNSO has performed several outstanding concert programmes, notably the interpretations of works by Leonard Bernstein, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Skryabin, Richard Strauss. LNSO also performs in the new concert halls in Cēsis and Rēzekne regularly and with great pleasure.
The LNSO was established in 1926 as the Latvian Radio Orchestra led by Arvīds Pārups. Until World War II, the LNSO mainly performed live on air, conducted by Jānis Mediņš, Teodors Reiters, Pēteris Barisons, and other masters. After the war, the most memorable periods of activity can be linked to the respective artistic directors. Leonīds Vīgners (1949–1963 and 1966–1975) was bright, fiery and despotic in a peculiar way; Edgars Tons (1963–1966) was aristocratic, highly educated and excellently skilled; Vassily Sinaisky (1975–1978) was young and zealous and brought the professional requirements to a new level; he also made a significant contribution to the support of the work of Latvian composers. In the years after the restoration of independence, the LNSO was led by outstanding maestros Olari Elts (2001–2006) who created original, unforgettable interpretations and Karel Mark Chichon (2009–2012) whose artistic direction significantly reshaped the orchestra, allowing to reach new heights of performance quality.
In the past, the LNSO has performed with outstanding guest conductors, including world-renowned Latvians Arvīds Jansons, Mariss Jansons and Andris Nelsons, and foreign conductors, like Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi and Paavo Järvi, Kirill Kondrashin, Kurt Masur, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yevgeny Svetlanov and others. The orchestra has performed together with notable soloists in the past – Philippe Hirschhorn, Van Cliburn, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paul Tortelier – as well as contemporary stars, such as Elīna Garanča, Natalia Gutman, Inga Kalna, Gidon Kremer, Alexei Lubimov, Mischa Maisky, Kristīne Opolais, Marina Rebeka, Egils Siliņš, Baiba Skride, Grigory Sokolov and others.
The scope of LNSO’s concert tours is wide – the orchestra has performed in Japan (including the Suntory Hall in Tokyo), Russia (including the Grand Hall of Moscow State Conservatory) and many European countries where the most important performances took place in Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berlin State Opera and Gewandhaus in Leipzig. In autumn 2013, the LNSO gave a concert performance in the Alte Oper in Frankfurt in the opening night of the European Central Bank Cultural Days devoted to Latvia. In 2015, the LNSO went to France – conducted by Andris Poga, they performed Verdi’s Requiem in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and participated in the piano music festival Les Piano folies du Touquet-Paris-Plage.