As he puts it, Raitis Ašmanis joined the orchestra of the Riga Circus by simply crossing the street since he started to work here while still being a student at the Academy of Music located nearby. Ašmanis’ stories are as attractive and dynamic as circus music itself. This unusual genre requires quick thinking, an open-minded approach to orchestral conducting and an ability to fully focus on things going on in the arena.
Raitis conducted the circus orchestra from 1989 till 2007. He remembers this time as an indescribable experience that cannot be compared to anything else. It is a gallimaufry of animals, clowns and many more! Raitis has many funny and bizarre stories to tell about his years spent in the circus: about a clown as the saddest person in the troupe, about penguins which are the most intelligent creatures, and finally about circus people of all kinds who, in fact, are people of “a special category”. Raitis says that circus is a form of art where everyone expects a miracle of sorts. And they get it! For example, a clown plays two clarinets simultaneously.
Conducting of a circus orchestra considerably differs from any other type of conducting. If the horse stops, the music must stop as well, even if we are in the middle of the section. In such cases any established composition principles must be disregarded. You must cut off when it’s necessary! No rounding up! Besides, in the circus you must conduct like in the 18th century, Raitis jokingly says. To be able to see what is going on in the arena, the conductor should turn his back to the musicians and face the arena instead. Nothing can be foreseen, it’s circus!
Photos by Ieva Epnere
All project participants:
Aivars Meistars / Alīna Kešāne / Anna Armand / Baiba Reinika / Dace Pecolli / Darja Golobokih / Darius Ščesnulevičius / Dzintra Žilde/ Gabriels Gots / Georgijs Sokolovskis / Gunta Virkava / Iveta Girtakovska / Lauris Cepurītis / Marija Lase / Mārīte Milne / Raitis Ašmanis / Ramona Sniega / Valērijs Komisarenko / Vija Veita / Vilnis Nerets