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Both have been invaded by Russia.

July always takes me back to our visit to Latvia in 2018. Our group enjoyed a six-day cycle tour through the beautiful countryside, the home of Peter Jirgen’s family. The launch of Peter’s memoir, ‘Out of Latvia’ at Riga Central was a highlight. Our visit was timed to coincide with Latvia’s Song and Dance Festival. Latvian choirs from around the world celebrate the rich culture of this proud and courageous nation for seven days throughout the entire country. We were privileged to have Veseris, the Melbourne Latvian Male Voice Choir perform a selection of their repertoire, including ‘Waltzing’ Matilda’.

Russia invaded Latvia in June 1940 and finally relinquished its iron grip in 1990 when Communism collapsed in Europe. ‘Out of Latvia’ reveals the terrible treatment of the Latvian people by Russia. Peter’s grandmother was sent to Siberia and his uncle spent two long terms exiled in that harsh environment.

We met Latvian residents who fear Putin’s expansionism and maintain a full tank of petrol in their car and a packed suitcase, ready for rapid evacuation.

To catch a little of the spirit of Veseris and brighten your day, click on the image for a 3.5 min video. Sandra Birze is on piano and flute, Ivars Stubis on guitar.


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