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Lauma Akmene is the new music director for Davis Lutheran Church. She is eager to bring a diverse music program where “everyone feels they have a place.” Elza Marta Ruža/Courtesy photo

Arts

New music director arrives at Davis Lutheran Church

365体育投注Davis Lutheran Church welcomed its new music director last month, Lauma Akmene, a Latvian national with a master’s degree in organ performance.

From worship hymns and choir performances to events and concerts, Akmene said she’s ready to get the Davis Lutheran congregation and the Davis community involved in music regularly.

365体育投注“I plan to bring a diverse music program where everyone feels supported,” Akmene said, “and that everyone feels they have a place in worship or concerts.”

365体育投注Akmene was born and spent her early life in post-Soviet Union Latvia, where her pastor advised her to study music at the Luther Academy in Riga, Latvia, after hearing her play the organ.

365体育投注“He said, ‘Why don’t you go to study (music)? It will be easy for you. You will be able to combine it with your architecture studies for sure,’ which was all lies,” Akmene said with a laugh. “Music took my interest more than architecture at some point, and I made the decision to go for music.”

365体育投注She completed her undergraduate studies at the Luther Academy and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theology with a church-music qualification.

“It’s a very German type of education,” Akmene said. “It’s basically about music and working in a church as a musician, but you also get another degree usually in philosophy or theology.”

365体育投注Akmene said Latvia’s small population of under 2 million actually broadened her communication and musical experience.

365体育投注“The language is small, so everyone needs to know at least two other languages to know what’s going on. I’ve learned to speak Russian and English to see both sides,” Akmene said. “There’s probably less than 30 organists in the whole country. Since we (Latvia) have been blocked for many years from Europe and what is going on in the world, it’s pretty narrow there actually. I really enjoyed going around a lot to masterclasses to see what the big (organ) teachers are doing in the world.”

After an organist she met in Germany during her travels agreed to take her under his wing, Akmene’s studies took her to Montreal, Canada, where she received a master’s degree in organ performance from McGill University. Upon taking the music director position at the church, the staff and Akmene navigated the lengthy visa process. Six months later, she successfully arrived in Davis to start her new position.

Akmene said her first endeavor as music director is to start a monthly concert series hosted at Davis Lutheran: “Music Conversations.”

“I would like to invite international and local talented artists to collaborate, as well as artists from UC Davis to give them a chance to come and play for a supportive audience,” Akmene said. “I think that the Davis community is interested in culture. This is for the community.”

365体育投注Akmene’s first “Music Conversations” guest is soprano Helēna Sorokina, a fellow Latvian currently working in Vienna, Austria. They will record a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 29, that will be available at . The show had been scheduled at the church, but in light of the coronavirus outbreak, was changed to online.

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