BMP Teaching Artists in Action | Aija Reke
At the Boston Music Project, we are proud to have an exceptional team with a diverse background of teaching and performance experiences. When our Teaching Artists are not teaching music lessons, they are pursuing their own professional careers as active performers, composers, music producers, and more.
Today we are proud to spotlight Aija Reke, Latvian violinist and BMP Teaching Artist.
Aija holds degrees from Boston University and the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands. She has performed extensively in Europe and North America as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. She performs regularly with ALEA III (the Contemporary Music Ensemble in Residence at Boston University),
Boston Modern Orchestra Project,
and Odyssey Opera. She has played as a section violin with the Latvian National Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonietta Riga, and the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, as well as many orchestras in the USA. Her collaborations with several composers led to multiple world premieres, including the microtonal solo violin piece “Musings” (2013) by Lara Poe, “double images” (2017) by Ketty Nez, “Latvian in New York” (2017) by Marite Dombrovska, and “Dawn” (2018) by Janis Porietis. She has also had many original compositions dedicated to her.
Aija released the recording of her first original work, "Meditation - Prayer" (Variations on the Latvian Folk Tune "Dark Night, Green Grass") in November 2020. Her second recording, “Dawn” by Janis Porietis, recorded with flutist Agita Arista, was released on all major music streaming platforms in September 2019.
As a passionate pedagogue, she has taught at El Sistema programs throughout the USA at public and private learning institutions.
Aija believes we never truly stop being students, even as teachers to others. She said,
"I am an eternal learner, and it's very important for me to improve myself and bring a growth mindset and positive energy in the classroom."
Aija talks about her musical beginnings, exciting upcoming projects, and a series of masterclasses she was selected to lead.
How did you start playing the violin, and who was your biggest musical inspiration when growing up?
"I started playing the violin when I was five years old. My biggest inspiration was Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, who won the 2001 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium. I studied at the Emils Darzins Music School in Riga, Latvia—the same boarding school that Skride had attended—and had to pass very difficult entrance exams to enter the school. Other famous musicians such as Andris Nelsons, Gidon Kremer and Misha Maisky also studied at this boarding school."
Tell us a little about the masterclasses you taught this month. How were they formatted in the virtual arena? Who viewed and participated and how were the experiences for you and the participants?
"I am very honored and humbled to lead a masterclass series for Ventspils Music High School in my homeland, Latvia. It consists of two lectures and four masterclasses that will take place from February to June this year on the Zoom platform. The masterclasses are sponsored by the US Embassy in Latvia, in collaboration with Ventspils Music High School. Lectures and masterclasses are all in the Latvian language.
In the first masterclass I taught on February 3rd, there were 142 participants from all over Latvia including violinists, string instrument teachers, and general music teachers from all different kinds of schools. In my first lecture I was happy to see my former teachers attending as well some of my colleagues and former A poster, in Latvian, advertising the masterclass.
The topic for the first lecture was 'The Education System in the USA - Similarities and Differences'. The second lecture on February 17th had 120 participants, and was about 'Current Classical Music Culture in the USA'. All attendees of these lectures received a professional development certificate for 4 hours of training.
In months of March, April, and June I will cover topics such as performance anxiety, hand and body freedom, how to practice efficiently, vibrato, shifting, and right hand exercises.
These masterclasses are based on my own extensive research through many method books, academic literature, and personal professional experience and training. Students of Ventspils Music School will perform at the masterclasses and present their own repertoire, as well as practice my suggested exercise materials. The final project will include a video performance of students from Latvia together with my students from the USA. We will record music by Mark O’Connor and Arcangelo Corelli."
Besides the masterclass series, Aija has many exciting projects coming up in many different arenas.
During November through January, she recorded a new album of Latvian chamber music, which will be released in the next few months. On March 20th of this year, she will be performing in a virtual livestream concert with students from Ip Piano School in Boston. Music will include Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 1 and Mozarts’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor.
Aija Reke plays Bach:
To learn more about Aija, we invite you to read her full biography on our Teaching Artists page.