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30 · 10 · 2020

HARMONIC VOICES – 30 year jubilee event

Looking Back on Three Decades of Cultural Dialogue

On Monday, the Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania celebrated its 30th jubilee with the fantastic event Harmonic Voices presenting musical performances from Danish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian music schools as well as speeches from some of the wonderful friends of the institute. It was a day of looking back on the past 30 years and looking forward to the next 30 years of cultural cooperation as well.


In the past 30 years, music has played a big and important role in many of the projects carried out by the Institute. Music is great at bringing people together and it inspires people across their cultural differences.  It has even been proven that music has a positive effect on young people as it increases their engagement with school and learning and strengthens their development of empathy and emotional intelligence among other things. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have all put music education on the top of their agenda and boast great opportunities for children and youngsters to study and practice music.


Denmark has recently begun working on strengthening accessibility to music for all even further than before, and we strongly believe that all four countries each have different but very important knowledge and experiences when it comes to music education for children and youth.


With Harmonic Voices, the Danish Cultural Institute wishes to create a platform where we can learn from each other and help each other to create even better music education. With the celebratory event on Monday, we kickstarted a great project that works to facilitate the exchange of culture and experience within the field of music education between the four countries and thereby learning from each other.


COVID-19 gave rise to trying out new ways of conducting the show and resulted in a virtual online dimension that luckily was able to reach the people who were unable to attend the show – more than 300 people joined our celebration online. We would like to thank all the people who participated in Harmonic Voices – virtually and in real life. You all helped make our jubilee an unforgettable celebration!


Please read on to find the recording of the show, be taken through the highlights and read more about the history of our Riga office!



Great Friends, Wonderful Partners and Marvellous Music

The Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is lucky to have incredible support from our many friends and partners and it was very meaningful to listen to the fantastic people who took their time to give a performance or a speech – whether they were live in real life or virtually or if they were pre-recorded – at the Harmonic Voices event.

Our Director, Simon Drewsen Holmberg gave the opening speech and spoke about the importance of music and how it has the potential to bring people together.
The Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, Reinis Znotiņš emphasised the role DCI has played in the transitioning of the society and mindsets of the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians from a Soviet way to a more European way of thinking.
Estonian Minister of Culture, Tõnis Lukas spoke about the many cultural events that have gathered Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark.
Ambassador of Denmark to Latvia, Flemming Stender emphasised the good and important cooperation that DCI has with the three Danish embassies in the Baltic countries.
Chairman of the DCI board, Carsten Haurum spoke about the future and highlighted the new projects in Ukraine and Belarus.
Aalborg Kulturskole (DK) performed “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland as well as “Space Captain” by Herbie Hancock.
Aalborg Kulturskole (DK) performed “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland as well as “Space Captain” by Herbie Hancock.
Head of Riga Cathedral Choir School, Gints Ceplenieks held an introduction speech about the school.
Henriete Sprūdža and Šarlote Sprūdža from Riga Cathedral Choir School performed the Latvian folk song “Godam dzimu, godam augu” accompanied by pianist, Toms Juhņevičs.
Former Foreign Minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen recalled the time around the opening of the office in Riga with great joy.
CEO of DCI, Camilla Mordhorst emphasised the institute’s important role in creating mutual understanding and connecting people through art and culture.
Former institute leader in Riga, Rikke Helms spoke about her own role in the early years of the Institute and gave a celebratory toast to the many good years to come!
Tallinn Music High School gave a virtual live performance of the piano piece “Sonatina op. 1 no. 2” by Arvo Pärt performed by student Carita Irjas. Before the performance, another student from the school, Isabella Kaumann, gave an introduction.
Vilnius Choral Singing School ‘Liepaites’ gave a pre-recorded performance of Lithuanian polyphonic folk song “Kas ta taka” by the school’s Girl’s Choir.
Gladsaxe Musik og Billedskole performed a samba on barrels.
Christian Frank who directed Gladsaxe Music og Billedskole’s samba performance gave an introduction to the performance.

A History of Cultural Cooperation

The Danish Cultural Institute’s office in Riga opened on 18 August 1990 before Baltic independence and as the first international institute in the Soviet Union outside of Moscow.


Since then the Baltic cultural life has continued to grow and develop and the connections to Europe and Denmark have strengthened and flourished. The establishment of the Institute was initiated by Herbert Pundik, editor-in-chief at the Danish newspaper Politiken. After having arranged seminars about Latvia and the human rights situation in the Soviet Union, Pundik came into contact with the famous Latvian poet Janis Peters who encouraged the establishment of a cultural institute in Latvia. The idea was well-received among Latvians, and Pundik set about launching a fundraising campaign in Politiken that informed Danes about the state of the Baltic countries and their steps towards the restoration of independence. At the end of the year, the result of the fundraising campaign very impressively amounted to DKK 1.8 million (or nearly € 250.000 in today’s rates)!


Rikke Helms became the first Director of the Riga office and soon after, offices were opened in Tallinn, Estonia – led by Silvi Teesalu – and in Vilnius, Lithuania – led by Audra Sabaliauskiene. The three offices worked parallel with each other and in collaboration across the three countries.


In 2005, Simon Drewsen Holmberg became the new Director of first the main office in Riga and then eight years later in 2013, of activities in all three countries when the offices were combined into one located in Riga.


As of 2020, Simon is still going strong as the Director the DCI-branch in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and under Simon’s lead more than 1.500 events and projects have contributed to strengthening the already well-established bonds and cultural connection between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Denmark. More recently, the branch is exploring new paths as it is also taking on projects in Ukraine and Belarus.

We look forward to the many prosperous years of continual cultural collaboration between Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ahead of us!