Ēriks Ešenvalds

Ēriks Ešenvalds is one of the most sought-after choral composers working today, with a busy commission schedule and performances of his music heard on every continent. Born in Riga in 1977, he studied at the Latvian Baptist Theological Seminary (1995-97) before obtaining his Masters degree in composition (2004) from the LatvianAcademy of Music under the tutelage of Selga Mence. From 2002-2011 he was a member of the State Choir "Latvija". In 2011 he was awarded the two-year position of Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge University. Ešenvalds is married and has four children.

Ēriks Ešenvalds has won multiple awards for his work, including the Latvian Great Music Prize (2005 & 2007). The International Rostrum of Composers awarded him first prize in 2006 for The Legend of the Walled-in Woman; he was made a laureate of the Copyright Award in 2006 and was "The Year's New-Composer Discovery" of the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2010, the same year he was nominated for the British Composer Award. In 2011 the Kamēr Youth Choir's CD O Salutaris featuring choral music exclusively by Ēriks Ešenvalds won the Latvian Music Records Award as the best academic music album of the year. In 2014 the State Choir "Latvija"'s CD At the Foot of the Sky featuring choral music exclusively by Ēriks Ešenvalds won the Latvian Music Records Award.

Ēriks Ešenvalds compositions have been premiered by ensembles including the Britten Sinfonia, the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, the Holst Singers and Imogen Heap, Polyphony, the Choir of Merton College Oxford, the Latvian Radio Choir, the State Choir "Latvija", the Kamēr Youth Choir, Sinfonietta Rīga, the Bavarian Radio Choir, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands National Children's Choir, the Swedish Art Vocal Ensemble, Salt Lake Vocal Artists, Temple University Philadelphia, The Crossing, Portland State University Chamber Choir, the Choir of the West at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, and The University of Louisville Cardinal Singers, and The University of Mississippi Concert Singers. In 2007 the Latvian National Opera staged his first opera Joseph is a Fruitful Bough.

His music has been performed at numerous international festivals including Klangspuren in Austria, the Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Tenso Days in France, the Haarlem Choir
Biennale in the Netherlands, Voices Now in the UK, ACDA National and Regional Conferences and the Spoleto Festival in the USA. At the 2014 World Choir Games, held in Riga, he composed the Games anthem, gave a major presentation on his work, acted on competition juries, and had a large-scale production premiered by the Latvian Voices and The King's Singers.

Ēriks Ešenvalds's premieres this season include Lakes Awake at Dawn for the Boston and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, Whispers on the Prairie Wind for the Utah Symphony and Salt Lake Vocal Artists with ACDA chorus at the 2015 National Convention in Salt Lake City, Passion according to St Luke for Latvian Radio Choir and Sinfonietta Riga, a new opera at the Latvian National Opera, and pieces for Chor Leoni Vancouver, University of Miami Glee Club, ChorWerk Ruhr and others. April 2015 sees the world premiere in Riga of a new multimedia symphony based on the Northern Lights, with premieres in the USA, Australia, Germany and the UK to follow. His compositions appear on recordings from Trinity College Choir, Cambridge on the Hyperion label and from VOCES8 on Decca Classics. Edition Peters Artist Management is managing Ēriks Ešenvalds's commissions and workshop schedule. Ēriks Ešenvalds is published by Musica Baltica (

Read an interview with Ēriks Ešenvalds here


(a reflection of Byrd’s Infelix ego)

After Savonarola’s death in 1498, the words of the martyr’s meditation and reflections echoed widely through printed editions and also through music, starting with the Italian lauda. Almost one hundred years later the words settled on the music manuscript of William Byrd: the six-voice texture powerfully projecting the text and emotionally dramatizing one’s struggle to have hope in the face of adversity – Byrd’s fear of being persecuted for his
own beliefs. And it seems to me, there is an arch, a timeless bridge or even a trans-ages dialogue connecting both of them, where the torch of the highest ideals and freedom is burning achingly bright. I’m so moved hearing ORA’s emotional performance on this recording; there is nothing of selfish tasks or thoughts, but the humble heart and the flow of that timeless river telling this sad story.

This commission appears on ORA’s second album, Refuge from the Flames.