The Liepaja Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in the Baltic States – it was founded simultaneously with the first Philharmonic in the Baltic, in 1883. Its first conductor was Has Hohapfel, who, after an interruption in the orchestra's activity during World War I and the battle for Latvian independence, was involved in the re-founding of the Philharmonic and the resumption of activity by the orchestra.
After another interruption during World War II, the orchestra resumed its activity in 1947, only this time in close connection with the Liepaja Music College and conductor Valdis Vikmanis.
A new period in the orchestra's history started in 1987, when the orchestra became completely independent. With its constant and relentless development and goal-oriented work, the orchestra has secured a significant position in the cultural life of Latvia and has gained international recognition. Since 1992, when maestro Imants Resnis became the artistic leader and chef conductor, the activity of the orchestra has increased significantly. During this time, recordings have been made with Latvian TV and radio, as well as CD's, including Imants Kalninš' 4th Symphony, music from the movie “Put, vejini!” by Imants Kalninš and Johann Strauss melodies. Since 1993 the LSO has regularly toured internationally, having given 91 concerts in countries such as Spain (1993), Malaysia (1996), Great Britain (1998), Sweden (1994, 1999, 2000) and Germany (1995, 1999). Also during this time, the International Piano Stars Festival was founded (1993), in which 73 renowned pianists from 20 countries have performed as guest soloists with the orchestra. Various guest conductors and soloists, as well as music critics, have taken note of the orchestra's high level of artistry and discipline, and especially its emotional performances. The wide-ranging repertoire of the LSO includes works from the Baroque to the present day and very special attention is given to Latvian music culture. The LSO has given world-premieres of music by Latvian composers.
Imants Resnis (Chief conductor)
The Latvian conductor Imants Resnis is nowadays widely considered as one of the leading conductors and musicians from the Baltic region (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia).
As principal cellist with the Latvian National Orchestra, he started his conducting studies in Riga with Vasily Sinaisky.
In 1983, he went to Moscow for 3 years to study at the famous Moscow Conservatory with Gennady Roshdestvensky, who called Imants Resnis "an extraordinary musician with great talent and an outstanding musical personality" and supported Resnis in studies of the complete classical, symphonic repertoire.
In 1987, Resnis became Musical Director of the Latvian National Orchestra, and was, in the same year, invited for guest performances to England, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal and Germany. His international debut as a conductor also took place in 1987, participating in “The Prague Spring” festival in Czechoslovakia.
In 1992, Resnis was named Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra.
Together with this orchestra he has toured to England, Spain, Italy, Germany and to the Far East.
Imants Resnis has recorded a great number of CDs. He is the founder and director of one of the most important music festivals in the Baltic Region – Piano Stars Festival. As guest conductor he has performed with orchestras in Mexico (1999, Orquesta Estado de Mexico), Columbia (1999,2000, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota) and Egypt (2000 with Berliner Symphoniker). In 2001 Imants Resnis conducted the opera of Donizetti L'elisir d'amore in Graz (Austria) Operhause.
Imants Resnis is also professor and head of conducting class at the Latvian National Music Academy.