From Devon to Latvia – a sharing of living traditions

16 November 2023

We were honoured to be invited to Latvia this autumn to be part of a three-day folk festival celebrating the folk tradition.

The festival, Dzīvā Mūzika, is hosted by the Skaņumāja folk organisation, who Wren Music have had an association with for many years.

Over the three days, Marilyn, Paul, and Amy from Wren Music performed at festival events in Alsunga, Kuldiga, and the capital, Riga. They also did a presentation of the work Wren Music does with the South West’s living tradition.

During the trip, we forged new connections with Latvian dance groups and singers, and with visiting musicians from Estonia.

Marilyn said: “Skaņumāja have done brilliant work in reviving Latvian culture since the country regained its independence, and it was lovely to see the old songs and dances being performed by groups in traditional costume.

“But this festival also brings in traditions from other countries as well, and we were delighted to be able to share some of our living traditions from Devon with them. In our presentation, we discussed how we use that tradition to write new songs for stories today.”

While in Latvia, Marilyn, Paul, and Amy were also given a tour of museums and other sites which are important to local culture.

As a result of the trip, Wren Music have now been invited to a similar festival in Estonia next year: “International connections are extremely important in keeping our living traditions alive and relevant,” said Marilyn. “And often, we discover that a lot of our folk traditions are linked in some way. So, we’d love to visit Estonia in 2024 if we possibly can.”