Violinist Marta Spārniņa believes the ensemble is performing too much music by Russian composers during the war with Ukraine 

Marta Spārniņa

Courtesy Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music

Marta Spārniņa

Latvian violinist Marta Spārniņa has resigned from her position as concertmaster of the Sinfonietta Riga. According to a report on Latvian culture programme Kultūršoks, Spārniņa took the decision to leave the ensemble after 14 years because she no longer wants to perform works by Russian composers while the Russia–Ukraine war is still raging.

Spārniņa has said that, at a time when sanctions are imposed on Russia and politicians are working to ensure that Ukraine receives the weapons it needs, in her view musicians are doing the exact opposite: promoting Russian culture. The report also said that eleven Sinfonietta Riga musicians agreed with Spārniņa’s stance, while three believed that music by modern Russian composers should not be played. On the other hand, eight think they should continue to perform Russian music.

Conductor Normunds Šnė, the ensemble’s artistic director, told the programme that he believed music was an art without particular political messages, and that the works performed by the Sinfonietta in no way glorified the Putin regime. The ensemble’s executive director Aneta Tocha said that protesting against its repertoire was not a fight that would help Ukraine win the war.

Meanwhile, the repertoire of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet includes seven works by Russian composers. Sandis Voldiņš, a member of the theatre’s board, stated that a decision had been made not to stage new works by Russian composers, but not to abandon the existing ones.

Spārniņa joined Sinfonietta Riga in 2009. She has also performed with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, O/Modernt and the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. She has been guest concertmaster with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Orquesta Filharmónica de Gran Canaria.


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