LSM Newswire

Monday, March 18, 2013

Latvian Pianist and Soprano Make Canadian Debut

March 3, 2013, Toronto –  The Toronto Latvian Concert Association presents the Canadian première performances of internationally recognized pianist Vestard Shimkus and soprano Elina Shimkus.

Pianist-Composer Vestard Shimkus

Soprano Elina Shimkus

The first half of the concert will open with Vestard Shimkus performing his transcription for solo piano of Wagner’s „Isoldes Liebestod” from „Tristan and Isolde” and Franz Liszt’s transcription for solo piano of „Spinnerlied” from Wagner’s „The Flying Dutchman”.   This will be followed by Latvian composers Janis Medins’ „Dainas” and Peteris Vasks’ ”White Scenery” from „The Seasons”.  An accomplished composer himself, Shimkus will round out the first half of the program with his „Black Charleston” (2011).

Vestard Shimkus will be joined in the second half of the program by his wife, soprano Elina Shimkus, in a performance of Latvian composers Janis Medins’ „Orphan’s Songs” song cycle, Lucija Garuta’s „The Givers”, Jazeps Medins’ „Reverie” and Jazeps Vitols’ „Happiness”.  She will finish the program with „Despina’s aria” from Mozart’s „Cosi fan tutte” and „Susanna’s aria” from „Le nozze di Figaro”, followed by Rossini’s „Bolero” and „Rosina’s cavatina” from „Il barbiere di Seviglia”.

Full biographical information about Vestard Shimkus and Elina Shimkus can be found on the following pages.  For more information about the Toronto Latvian Concert Association, please visit  For interviews or to arrange for media tickets for this concert, please contact Laura Adlers at (416) 948-0634 or

"Vestard Shimkus is a PHENOMENON! He has his own personality, self-confidence and technical brilliance. Some people may talk about the end of the age of classical music but when you hear a Shimkus' performance, you can be sure that classical music is quite well."
                                                                                                                    Paavo Jarvi, conductor

"Being a published composer himself, Vestard Shimkus is a SUPERB pianist and gives the music everything the composer could ask for."
                                                                                    American Record Guide, November 2010


Born in Latvia on August 21st, 1984, Shimkus started to gain international recognition after debut performances with the BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchèstre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, KREMERata Baltica, NDR Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg and Borodin Quartet in such concert halls as Konzerthaus (Vienna), Tokyo Opera City, Radio France (Paris), Dvoràk Hall (Prague), Berwald Hall and Konserthuset (Stockholm), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid), Palau de la Musica (Barcelona), Sala Verdi (Milano) and Oriental Art Centre (Shanghai), among others. He was the winner of several international piano competitions, including the 55th Maria Canals International piano competition in Barcelona (Spain, 2009) and the 5th Bad Kissingen KlavierOlympiade international piano competition (Germany, 2007).

Shimkus began his piano studies at the age of five in Riga and subsequently studied with Dmitri Bashkirov and Claudio Martinez Mehner in Madrid, Daniel Pollack in Los Angeles, and Vadim Suchanov in Munich.  He also studied composition under Peteris Vasks.

Vestard Shimkus has collaborated with such conductors as Lawrence Foster, Andris Nelsons, Vassily Sinaisky, Karel Mark Chichon and Woldemar Nelsson and has given concerts throughout Europe, USA, the Middle-East, China and Japan. He has been invited to perform in the Kissinger Sommer Festival (Germany), Bergen Festival (Norway), Gidon Kremer Festival in Lockenhaus (Austria), Schleswig-Holstein Festival (Germany) and others.

Shimkus has received numerous awards, including the "White Star" order of Estonia and the Golden Order of Poland for an outstanding contribution to the concert series dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin.

Some of his compositions have been published by "SCHOTT Music & Media". He has released six CD albums and his Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra was premièred in July 2008. Shimkus also plays jazz and has given several solo concerts consisting just of his spontaneous piano improvisations.  He is represented by the German agency "Beckerkoncert".                 .../3
„The best performance – vocally and dramatically. Petite, but full of energy. Musical, with beautiful and flexible voice.”
G. F. Handel’s opera "Acis and Galatea", Krakow Opera Festival, Poland 30.06.2011
Gazeta Wyborcza - Kraków, 06.07.2011


Latvian soprano Elina Shimkus has a Masters degree in performing arts from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo (prof. Barbro Marklund).  In Latvia she has studied with Margarita Gruzdeva and has a Bachelor degree in opera performance from the Latvian Music Academy.

Elina is a prizewinner of the VII Klaudi Taev International Singing Competition for Young Opera Singers in Estonia and at the moment she is a guest soloist with the Estonian National Opera, where she debuted as Michaela in ”Carmen” by G.Bizet in March 2012 and as Violetta in ”La traviata” by G.Verdi in May 2012. In Latvia, she sang the role of Atalanta in ”Xerxes” by G.F. Handel with the Early Music Festival and has sung the role of Lisa in ”La Sonnambula” by V.Bellini with the Sigulda Opera Music Festival. In July 2011, Elina debuted at the Krakow Opera Festival with Damon’s role in ”Acis and Galatea” by G.F. Handel.

This year, Elina will debut as Marfa in Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera „The Tsar’s Bride” in Pärnu and Tallinn, as well as Aminta in W.A. Mozart’s opera „Il re pastore” at the Rennes Opera in France.

Elina Shimkus has performed together with many orchestras, including the Oslo Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian National Opera Orchestra, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonietta Rīga, the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra and Collegium Musicum Rīga, as well as with the conductors Andress Mustonen, Risto Joost, Jan Ola Amundsen, Jury Alperten, Arvo Volmer, Māris Kupčs, Andris Veismanis, Andris Poga, Aleksandrs Viļumanis and many others. Elina has been a soloist in music festivals in Valencia, Kiev, Düsseldorf, Oslo, Riga, Trondheim, Stavanger, Tartu and Tallinn.

She has performed several premieres in Latvia and the Baltic States, such as Vivaldi’s “Introduzione e Gloria”, Sir Paul McCartney’s ”Ecce cor meum”, John Rutter’s ”Requiem” and ”Gloria”. Her oratorio roles include performances of several of Bach’s cantatas and the „St.Johannes-Passion”, Handel’s ”Alexander’s Fiest” and „Messiah”, Mozart’s “Groβe Messe”, Orff’s „Carmina Burana”, and Rossini’s „Stabat Mater”.

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