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Suiti women of Alsunga

The first time Suiti sang on stage was in 1924, when Ludis Bērzins took them to Riga. The next performance on stage was soon afterwards in 1925 organized by Em. Melngailis.

We can consider 1955 as the founding year of this folkgroup (they are used to call themselves an ethnographic ensemble), when the staff of the Folklore Institute, under the leadership of Rita Drīzule, invited the group of singing women with Veronika Porziņge as lead singer, to participate in the Aizpute Song Festival. Starting from this year, the women started getting together regularly.

In 1967, the folk group participated in the decade of Latvian culture and art in Moscow. In total, they have visited Moscow three times – in 1967, 1977, 1981.

The year 1973 was very fruitful, when under the direction of Andrejs Migla, the Ancient Suiti Wedding was staged, where the Suiti women of Alsunga carried all the weight. The performance was shown 49 times in different cities of Latvia. Eight times at the Riga National Theater alone. In different variants, wedding performances were created in 1990, 2002, where the decisive role was, of course, to them.

Back in 1973, the Suiti women of Alsunga starred in the feature film Pūt, vējiņi and took part in the play Paši pūta, paši dega together with the actors of the National Theater.

The activities of the folk group have been regularly documented since 1993. Activity is shown by the numbers – on average 45 times a year participation in various events. In 1997, Suiti women of Alsunga joined the project in the opera Rolstein on the beach. Performances were also held in Vilnius, at the modern music festival. Suiti singing is an integral part of international folklore festivals Baltica. The singing of the Suiti is recorded on the disc.

Their singing has been reaching beyond the borders of Latvia for quite some time. They have been several times in Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and in 2000 – at the second World Folklore Festival in Japan. Suiti women of Alsunga have participated many times in programs produced by Latvian television, they also sang at LTV’s 50th anniversary. The ensemble has good cooperation with the Latvian Radio.

An interesting collaboration had developed with Bandava, a middle generation dance group from Kuldīga. Over the course of five years, several cooperation projects have been created, for example, Suitu godi sētā nāk. The performance Meņģēšanās kurzemnieku gaumē won an award from the Ministry of Culture. Choreographer Zanda Mūrniece has created several choreographies for Suiti women of Alsunga and Bandava, as a result of which they have participated together in several international dance festivals Sudmaliņas. Suiti women of Alsunga has also won the Grand Folklore Award of the Year.

In 2004, the first International Drone Singing festival was held in Alsunga, where the central actors were, of course, all three ethnographic ensembles of the Land of Suiti. Since then, a total of 5 festivals have been organized – in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, and 2017.

Due to Latvia’s accession to the European Union, the folk group was invited to perform a concert on the waterfront on November 11. Suiti women of Alsunga have always been actively involved in various events both in the parish and elsewhere in Latvia. During Easter and Christmas, the ensemble is in great demand in Riga. In the last few years, he has played a lot in various places, including in Zosēni parish together with the state president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga. The folk group is regularly invited to sing at weddings.

Speaking of the collective’s activity, one cannot fail to mention the creative activity with the young generation. This is how the project was born, which was supported by the Culture Capital Fund Tēvu tēvi laipu met. Within the framework of the project, the women worked with 11 children for a year, introducing them to ancient work tools, cooking, baking bread and, of course, singing, as well as games. It has been sung together with small folklorists from all over Latvia at the Pulkā eimu, pulkā teku festival.

For two years, close cooperation was formed with the students and lecturers of the Faculty of Philology, University of Latvia, and especially with Professor Janīna Kursīte. This collaboration resulted in the book Suitu identitāte or Identity of the Suiti. Then it is worth mentioning the singing at the opening of the Olympic Center, the festival of dragonflies in the hockey hall and the UNESCO conference in Riga. Foreign diplomats at the House of Blackheads also appreciated their singing.

Several times, singer Igo Fomins has involved Suiti women of Alsunga in his projects. They have also sung in the museums of Kuldīga, Talsi and Jūrmala. In 2006, they participated in a joint project with representatives of England in the creation of an exhibition in Andrejosta, Riga. At the end of 2005, several commemorative events were held in Riga for the 80th anniversary of the Suiti stage concerts at the Latvian Academy of Music, the National Theater and the Riga Cinema. As a reference point, we can consider the 50th anniversary since the foundation of the folk group, celebrated at the beginning of 2006.

Since the inclusion of the Suitu cultural space in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2009, the Suitu cultural space has experienced a renaissance in all its manifestations, interest in the musical heritage has also grown rapidly, so the Suiti women of Alsunga also have more and more activities. In recent years, they have participated in the folk festival in France, festivals in Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and, of course, Latvia. But the most recognizable is the famous singing skill of the women is the special drone way of singing. It is especially awaited by listeners all over Latvia in the most diverse festivals, weddings, anniversaries and other events.

In 2016, the disc Suitu kāzas was released. Marriage and wedding songs, which were created by all Suiti folk groups with their rich collection of wedding songs, including Suiti women of Alsunga.

Currently, we have 16 singers in the folk group, and the number of participants increases every year. Joy for the new shift, which proudly carries on the heritage of the Suiti in Latvia and in the world!