PĒTERIS VASKS (b 1946 )
Pēteris Vasks was born in Aizpute, Latvia on 16 April 1946. He attended the Riga Music Academy and the Lithuanian Music Academy in Vilnius where he studied double-bass with Vitautas Sereika. During 1973–78 he studied composition with Valentin Utkin at the Latvian Academy of Music in Riga. From 1963 to 1974 Vasks was a member of the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra (1966–9), Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (1969–70) and the Orchestra of Latvian Radio and Television (1971–4). On three occasions he has received the Great Music Award, the highest prize bestowed by the Latvian state in the field of music: in 1993 for Litene, in 1998 for his Violin Concerto ‘Distant Light’, and in 2000 for his Second Symphony. In 1996 he was awarded the Herder Prize of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg and was also designated principal composer of the Stockholm Festival of New Music. Since 1994 Vasks has been an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and in 2001 became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. During 2004 a recording of his Second Symphony (Ondine) was awarded the Cannes Classical Award in the categories ‘CD of the Year’ and ‘Best Orchestral Work’. Vasks currently resides in Riga where he works as a freelance composer.