ABOUT



Latvian composer  Santa Ratniece started her musical studies with piano playing classes at Valmiera Music School. In 1992 she took up music theory classes in Emils Dārziņš College of Music in Riga. She continued her musical education at J.Vītols Latvia  Music Academy and  graduated  in musicology (2000) and in composition (2002). Later on she studied composition  with  English composer David Rowland at Enschede Conservatory in Netherlands. Afterwards Santa Ratniece went on with her studies at Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with Estonian composer Helena Tulve and in 2007 she obtained her MA. 

Santa Ratniece`s music has been played in Europe, Australia, Canada, United States and South America by Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Riga, Altera Veritas, Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra, Spikeri String quartet, vocal group Putni, pianists Vestard Shimkus and Reinis Zariņš, ReDO (Latvia),  NYYD Ensemble, Ensemble Resonabilis, Estonian National Male choir  (Estonia), Ensemble Sarband, Ensemble Recherche, Leipziger Blaserquintett, Ensemble Avantgarde, violoncellist Ramon Jaffé,  Ensemble RARO, Ensemble Reflexion K, Deutsch-Skandinavische Jugend-Philharmonie, pianist Heloise Ph.Palmer (Germany), Arditti Quartet, organist Charles Matthews (England), Nederlands Kamerkoor, Cappella Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Musiques Nouvelles (Belgium) Quatuor Molinari (Canada), Sydney Symphony Fellows (Australia), SOCO Ensemble (Uruguay), Kronos QuartetThe Crossing choir, International Contemporary Ensemble (United States), ConTempo Quartet (Rumania), Ensemble Reconsil (Austria) and others.

Santa Ratniece first came into public view in 2004 after winning the 1st prize at the 2004  UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for her work sens nacre (in the category of composers under 30), performed by Ensemble Nove, conductor Normunds Šnē. Her choir composition Saline was among selected works in 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, but her orchestra piece Shant Nadi in 2012 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. Furthermore Santa Ratniece was awarded the Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2006 of the daily newspaper Diena for choir piece Saline, performed by Latvian Radio choir, conductor Sigvards Klava. Sens nacre for ensemble was awarded  the Copyrights’ Infinity Award 2007 and Chu Dal for choir - the Copyrights’ Infinity Award 2011. 7th Liepaja concerto for piano and symphonic orchestra (performed by pianist Vestard Simkus and Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound orchestra) received Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2014  of the daily newspaper Diena and was nominated for supreme Grand Music Award 2014 in Latvia. Also the Hirondelles du Coeur for mixed choir and orchestra was nominated for Grand Music Award 2006.

In the last years Peteris Vasks Foundation in Latvia has commissioned two pieces to Santa Ratniece -  mirdzums for the German RARO trio (Alina Pogostkina - violin, Reto Bieri - clarinet and Diana Ketler - piano) and - es mīlu mazo, smalko lietu; lyrics of Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis. It was premiered in August, 2013 by soprano Liene Kinca, flutist Dita Krenberga, cellist Eriks Kirsfelds and pianist Peteris Plakidis.

In summer  2013 Santa Ratniece had her first American tour. The Crossing Choir of Philadelphia had the performances of Santa Ratniece’s three choir compositions in three concerts in the festival The Month of Moderns. Saline, Chu Dal and horo horo hata hata were sounding in three different venues of Philadelphia. New pieces written for The Crossing Choir in collaboration with International Contemporary Ensemble of New York will be premiered in summer 2016.

Most of Ratniece`s music is devoted to the chamber choir, she has received regular commissions from Latvian Radio choir and relationship with the choir started with  Saline in 2006 and  followed by Hirondelles du Coeur (2007, for choir and orchestra) horo horo hata hata (2008, for 12 voices), Chu Dal (2009), Fuoco Celeste (2011 for cello solo and choir) and Nada el layli (2015 for  kemenche, qanun and choir).

Latvian Radio choir chamber singers are the soloists in Santa Ratniece’s first stage work - multimedia opera by Hotel Pro Forma - WAR SUM UP. Music. Manga. Machines. This opera was premiered in Latvian National Opera in 2011, conducted by Kaspars Putniņš,  having had further performances at Royal Theatre  in Copenhagen, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn New York, Brighton Festival 2012 , ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival 2011, Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival 2012, Materia Prima Festival 2012 (Poland), Transart Festival 2013 (Italy) and on other more than twenty theatre stages around Europe and Asia (Taiwan and China). 

Santa Ratniece’s recent projects include commission from legendary Kronos Quartet. The premiere of Silsila took place in Big Concert hall of Stanford University in October 2014. In Silsila (chain in Arabic) we are following the Brahmaputra river down streams from Tibet, through India and Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal. It is the highest major river in the world, which starts as a tiny little spring in Angsi glacier in Himalayas. In the curse of the piece we are descending from 5210 m above the sea level.

In 2014 she was involved in the project called Clybird’s lullaby, an artistic collaboration between Swedish artist Knutte Wester and children from  Ziemeli orphanage. The project is based on hand-made sculptural instruments,  so-called "clay birds", a small ocarina instruments that are traditionally used both in Sweden and Latvia. Knutte Wester - the artist from Sweden worked together with  children from Ziemeli orphenage and made the ocarinas from the clay.  Some of these small instruments  sometimes  have strong and clear tones, but others are completely out of tune, as if their wings were broken. Santa Ratniece got involved in the project and has written music especially for these clay birds and their characteristic sound. The representations of the lives of the children together with music form the basis for the Claybirds Lullaby, which the vocal ensemble Putni performed on October, 2014 in the St.Saviors Church in Riga.

Commission from Latvian Radio choir and Sarband ensemble - Nada el Layli was premierred in Oslo Church music festival in March 2015. It was a joint project, called Canticum Canticorum, where the Latvian Radio choir joined together with musicians from the Middle East, and five composers where creating the musical painting that integrates the Middle East traditional music in the Western contemporary choir music and vice versa. In Santas Ratniece’s piece the choir  was specifically created to feel secure and comfortable, just as in the maqam (place, space) tradition. The small Greek kemenche violin reflects qanun melodies, and its delicate arabesques are echoed in the quietly expressive sounds of the kemenche.

Santa Raniece`s music has been widely played in Baltic states. Her compositions have been  included regularly in the programs of Arena Festival, Skaņu Mežs Festival, Latvian New Music Days, Introvert Music Festival, Autumn Chamber Music Festival, Cesis Art Festival (Latvia), Estonian Music Days 2007, 2008, Autumn Festival (Estonia), ISCM World Music Days Vilnius 2008, GAIDA 2009, Music of Changes 2011 (Lithuania).

Santa Ratniece has participated with her music in well-known festivals, such as Présences 2006, Tenso Days Paris 2007 (France),  Klangspuren 2006, Klangraum im Herbst 2012 (Austria), The Baltic Sea Festival (Sweden), MusiMars 2006, Soundstreams 2012 (Canada), Cello Bienneale Amsterdam 2016, Tenso Dagen Amsterdam 2009, Koorbiënnale Haarlem 2011, Operadagen Rotterdam 2012 (The Netherlands), 2010 ISCM World New Music days Sydney (Australia), La Biennale di Venezia 2010 (Italy), Usedomer Music Festival 2010 (Germany), SOCO Festival 2011 (Uruguay), Vale of Glamorgan festival of music 2011, Brighton festival (United Kingdom), Month of Moderns 2013 (United States), Warsaw Autumn 2013 (Poland) and others.
Santa Ratniece has been twice (2013, 2015) a composer in residence in Visby International Centre for composers in Sweden.