Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our Sunday in Riga

Okay, LOTS to talk about (sorry...about which to talk!).  We just dumped pictures onto the computer, so here is a shot of the ladies on one of our plane flights.  Sarah and Leah brought their American Girl dolls (Emily and Rebecca) and got to join in watching "Scooby Doo" to help pass the time.  The old ones are the best ones!
I had a good meeting with Janis Retenais (tuba teacher and chair of the brass area at JVLMA) and Janis Purins (wind orchestra conducting teacher at  JVLMA and a well-known band director in Latvia) on Friday afternoon.  They were actually at the airport Thursday to greet us, but a luggage issue made us an hour late and we weren't able to chat.  For the Friday meeting, we were able to iron-out a few details about my teaching assignment and other musical things.  While at the JVLMA I met Rector Artis Simanis and Vice-Rector for International Relations Maija Sipola.  They were very gracious hosts and offered me tickets to the Academy's 90th anniversary concert the next night.
On Saturday we met Ryan Roberts, the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Embassy here in Riga.  He took us to lunch at a restaurant called Lido, which has traditional Latvian food, cafeteria-style.  Everybody liked it, and that's saying a LOT!

Saturday night I went to the JVLMA 90th anniversary concert at the "Large Hall" in Old Town, home of  the Latvian National Symphony.  There were many fine performances from the student choir, orchestra, and brass quintet.  Several recent graduates performed as soloists with the orchestra, and it was fantastic.

The above picture is of Niki and the girls (all 4 of them!) in front of the Freedom Monument, one of the more important landmarks in the country.  This was taken around 16:00 (4 p.m.) and it was getting quite cold after the 6 blocks or so.  I think that we'll be much better at mid/long-distance walking in a couple of weeks!

Right next to the Freedom Monument is the Laima Clock, a common gathering place for people meeting to visit Old Town, and a park with gigantic snowmen.  On the way home, we stopped for a quick picture of the Latvian National Opera house, which is a beautiful and massive facility right on the river (and quite close to our home!).  Finally, we have some pictures of our apartment, which includes a locked gate, locked main door, security guard, and dozens of other important safety-related elements.  We are living in a big city with a population of over 700,000 people after all, so it's good to be careful.