Aurora Folk Group taking part in Latvian Song and Dance Festival
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The Aurora Folk Group of Gozo are in Latvia at the moment, participating in the Latvian Song and Dance Festival.
The Group, made of 35 dancers and musicians were invited by the Ministry for Culture of the Republic of Latvia for the national centenary celebrations of the Republic of Latvia.
This Song and Dance Festival has been listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List and the Aurora Folk Group said that it is the first from Gozo or Malta to have participated in it.
Organised once every five years since 1873, the Festival is a national event which involves thousands of participants from all over the country.
This year, the Festival is considered as the biggest Folk Festival ever held in the world, where the Gozitan Folk Group joined 40,000 other participants from Latvia and other countries.
They took part in a grand opening of the Festival with a parade along Freedom Avenue in the capital city Riga, where the group said it was cheered by thousands along the route with the words “Malta, Malta.”
The Gozitan group then participated in three official events across Latvia, starting with a performance in Vermanes Park in Riga Centre, together with other foreign folk groups.
In addition, the Aurora Folk Group, made up of a group of male, female and child dancers, together with a live orchestra and singer, participated in a concert in the city of Cesis and the village of Liepa, where the group was greeted by hundreds of locals.
The Aurora Folk Group was founded in 1973 and was the first group of its kind in Gozo. It said that it frequently represents Malta regularly in several countries, including the UK, Ireland, Italy, North African countries, Poland and now Latvia.
In 2001, the group held a performance in Piazza di Spagna, Rome and in a private audience with Pope John Paul II.
The Leone Philharmonic Society voiced its appreciation to all members of the folk group, “who honoured the Society and our country, especially the organisers Marlon Mercieca, Michelle Farrugia and Patrick Grima.”
The Society said that it is honoured that “the first folk group in Gozo was invited to represent Malta in the official celebrations of another European country. The Society looks forward to continue to honour our country through its cultural endeavours.”
Photograph by Betty Bugeja