In 2021, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia Celebrated its 30th Anniversary. After a hiatus of almost a hundred years, Sweden’s famous and numerically gifted male choir "Orphei drängar" once again held concerts in Latvia. As part of the massive Nordic Voices in Latvian Autumn tour, the 70-man strong choir performed at the concert hall Latvija in Ventspils, the Embassy of Latgale GORS in Rēzekne, and at St Peter's Church in Rīga. They performed Nordic and Baltic choir music in the concerts, singing pieces by Carl Michael Bellman, Ola Gjeilo, Mart Saar, Veljo Tormis, Edvard Grieg, Hildur Gudnadottir, Anders Hillborg, Gunnar Idenstam, Cecilia Damström, Jan Sibelius, Sandström and other composers. The choir surprised Latvia’s audiences with a beautiful gesture, performing a piece by Raimonds Tiguls, which was written expressly for the choir, for the very first time.
The choir has been headed by conductor Cecilia Rydinger since 2008. For more than 40 years, from the mid-20th century, its creative director was Eric Ericson, while the famous Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén was his predecessor. Currently, the choir, which received the title of Sweden’s Choir of the Year in 2003, is seen to be among the most professional and best-known male choirs in the world. Its deputy conductor is Folke Alin. The concerts also featured soloist Hanna Husáhr (soprano) and organ player Ilze Reine. The concerts were directed by Boris Klanger.
The choir first came to Latvia back in 1914 and 1929, with the first visit attested to in translator Ieva Celmiņa’s (1902-1991) memories held at the Janis Rozentāls and Rūdolfs Blaumanis Museum. “It took place in spring 1914. A beautiful lady came to visit my parents. She spoke Latvian with the strangest of accents. It was Elli Rozentāle. She had come with a request: the "Orphei drängar" choir was to perform in Rīga – Uppsala University students led by the young conductor Hugo Alfvén. [She asked if] some of them could be invited to stay at our home so that staying at the hotel doesn’t burden them with any extra expenses. It was one of the few times when foreigners performed in Rīga and addressed Latvians, not Germans.”