Imant Raminsh | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Imant Raminsh

Imant (Karlis) Raminsh. Composer, conductor, violinist, teacher, b Ventspils, Latvia, 18 Sep 1943, naturalized Canadian 1954; ARCT 1962, B MUS (Toronto) 1966.

Raminsh, Imant

Imant (Karlis) Raminsh. Composer, conductor, violinist, teacher, b Ventspils, Latvia, 18 Sep 1943, naturalized Canadian 1954; ARCT 1962, B MUS (Toronto) 1966. After violin studies with Albert Pratz at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (1958-64) Imant Raminsh entered the University of Toronto's music education program. There he studied violin with David Mankovitz, composition with Talivaldis Kenins, and choral techniques with Charles Peaker and Elmer Iseler. In post-graduate work at the Salzburg Mozarteum Academy (1966-8) he studied composition, violin, and conducting, and was a member of the school's professional orchestra, Camerata Academica.

Conducting, Teaching
In 1968 Imant Raminsh established the music department at The College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC and taught there until 1972. He was the founding conductor in 1971 of the New Caledonia Chamber Orchestra (after 1981 the Prince George Symphony Orchestra) and choral director 1978-82 of the Okanagan Symphony Choir. Joining the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra in 1977, he became its principal second violin in 1978. He founded the Aura Chamber Choir in 1979, and in1989 founded and became music director of the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan; in 2008 he remained director of both. He began to teach music theory privately in 1969 and at the Vernon Music School in 1977.


Though principally known for his choral works in his earlier career, Imant Raminsh successfully branched into instrumental composition after the 1990s. His Violin Concerto (1997) was premiered by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and his Bassoon Concerto by George Zukerman and the Mexico State Orchestra under Enrique Bátiz 15 Apr 2000. Also in 2000, Raminsh was asked to write a companion piece to the premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's Credo at the Banff Centre for the Arts, resulting in Recordare for orchestra, soloists, and chorus. Raminsh continued bridging the choral and instrumental worlds with highly successful works including Symphony of Psalms (a nine-movement piece for choir and orchestra sung in eight languages), which was premiered at Carnegie Hall in April 2002. In 2005 Raminsh was commissioned by the Ensemble Monterey Chamber Orchestra for The Peace of Wild Things. It was premiered under Cheryl Anderson in Santa Cruz and Monterey, Cal in May 2006 and taken to Carnegie Hall 19 Jun 2007 and the East Coast in 2008. Also in 2005, Raminsh's children's opera The Nightingale (2003) received its world premiere by The Children's Chorus of Washington and was taken on tour in China by the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus; it was later staged by Minnesota Opera in March 2008.

Imant Raminsh's music emerges from a sense of urgent necessity, a sense of having 'something to say... that will cause you spiritual pain not to say it' (Anacrusis, Winter 1990). The strongly melodic nature of his compositions he attributes to a lifelong interest in vocal and choral music and suggests that the ultimate source may be the pervasive song heritage of his Latvian culture. He is unconcerned that his music is viewed as harmonically and rhythmically conservative: 'I have a limited time to compose... and I'm more comfortable saying the things I have to say in a language I already know. I don't have to be original for the sake of being original. That's my very sincere approach' (ibid).

Raminsh's instrumental compositions have been written for and performed by the Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton symphony orchestras; Symphony Nova Scotia; Tafelmusik; the New Caledonia Chamber Orchestra; the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra; and the Masterpiece Trio of Vancouver. His choral works have been performed by many choirs, (eg, Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Tudor Singers of Montreal, the Glen Ellyn Children's Choir of Chicago, the Stockholm Chamber Choir, the Tokyo Philharmonic Choir, the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, and the Latvian chamber choir Ave Sol). He has received commissions from the CBC, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Da Camera Singers of Edmonton, the British Columbia Choral Federation, and the Indianapolis Children's Choir, among others. His music has been broadcast by the CBC.

Awards; Memberships; Publishers

Raminsh received the Order of the Three Stars from the Latvian government in 2006. He is a member of the Canadian League of Composers and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. His music has been published by G.V. Thompson (a division of Warner/Chappell); Walton Music; Colla Voce; Hinshaw Music; Alliance Music; and the Sveriges Korforbundsforlag (Stockholm).

Selected Compositions

The Great Sea. 1972. SATB, orch. Ms

Ave Verum Corpus. 1973. SATB. GVT 1983. Grouse GR-100/Marquis MAR-106 (Van Chamber Choir)

'... and the great day that dawns'. 1978. Orch. Ms

Ice and Fire (Lope De Vega). 1979. Mezzo, SATB, timpani, string orch. Ms

A Northwest Trilogy (BC folk songs). 1980. SATB. GVT 1984. CBC SMCD-5097 (Van Chamber Choir)/('Bye, Bye Baby') U-1 (UBC University Singers)

Six Chinese Lyrics. 1981. Alto, fl, oboe, string quartet. Ms

Along the Flower Trail. 1982. SSAATTBB. Ms

Suite on Five Latvian Folk Songs. 1983. Orch (string orch). Ms

Psalm 23. SA, piano. GVT 1985

Psalm 121. 1984. SA, strings (piano). GVT 1984

Magnificat. 1985. SATB (mezzo, SATB, piano). Ms

Two Psalms (No. 130, 150). 1985. SATB, orch. Ms

Daybreak: Songs of the Lights (Navaho, trans E.L. Walton).(Set 1) 1985. SA (SSA), fl, glockenspiel, string (piano). B&H 1987. (Set 2) 1987. SA (SSA, SSAA), piano. Ms

Five Latvian Folksongs. 1985. SATB. Ms

I Will Sing Unto the Lord (Psalm 104). 1988. SATB, piano (orch). Ms

Also other works for voice; choir; and chamber ensemble

Further Reading