Composer Focus: Līva Blūma
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Welcome to our brand new blog! Each month we're going to focus on one living and one historical composer and this seems like the perfect opportunity to welcome Līva Blūma, our new Composer in Residence. Līva will be working with Scordatura for the next few months, and curating our Patreon playlists as well as writing us a new piece which we'll be performing in the summer. More details to follow shortly... In the meantime, you can listen to her music here, or explore the music she has chosen for our March playlist here.
Līva Blūma is an Oxford-based Latvian composer. A graduate of the Riga Cathedral Choir School and Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music, Līva writes music that has been described as “fragile yet intense”, “conveying a vocal quality”. Her pieces have been commissioned & performed by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Choir ‘Kamēr…’, the versatile trio ‘Art – I – Shock’, ‘B- Sharp Orchestra’ and more. She is a recipient of the Pēteris Vasks Award (2018) for her piece ‘All Scabs Are There’ for baritone and piano.
Līva started her music education by the age of 8, enrolling in a children’s music school, where she studied piano, vocal performance, and sang with the girls’ choir ‘Cantus’. Early exposure to choral & Latvian folk music manifests itself in both her vocal and instrumental compositions.
Līva continued her music studies by enrolling in the Riga Cathedral Choir School, where she concentrated on choir conducting and vocal performance. She also received her first serious composition lessons from Uģis Prauliņš. Līva matriculated into Latvia’s premier higher education institution for the study and practice of concert music, Jazeps Vitols Latvian Music Academy, where she studied composition with Andris Vecumnieks and graduated in 2018.
Līva’s most important impulses for composition are extra-musical and come from poetry, visual arts, and sundry other sources, such as botany, natural phenomena and even sporting events. This mélange of inspiration allows her to create soundworlds that are fantastical and eerie, yet vital and perpetually rhythmical. Her day-to-day listening appetite is eclectic, ranging from renaissance-era polyphony to folk music and progressive rock music of the 1970s.
With her early childhood training in classical singing, Līva has sung to a professional standard with the Latvian ensembles ‘Youth Choir Kamēr…’, ‘Putni’, and The Latvian Radio Choir. She presently sings as a choral exhibitioner in the Exeter College Chapel Choir and deputizes around Oxford. Her performance experience influences her compositional approach, as she strives to maintain a sense of melodic line even in her most structurally complex pieces.
Līva qua composer firmly believes in communicating with multiple publics. In her mind, a composer of today is no longer a lonely artisan, but should play an active role in all aspects of music, be it creation, performance or education. In 2018, Līva was a guest speaker at the North-western Division of American Choral Directors Association Conference held in Portland, Oregon; she lectured there on Latvian folk culture and choral music. She has also presented self-designed masterclasses on improvisation and extended techniques of piano.
Outside of her music-making, Līva tries to find time for reading and pursuing her interest in film photography.