translator Silvia Elksne



In memoriam of Baltavians

To the church of Baltinava

Proud and glorious You stand on the hill,
For your blessing many prayers will come.
Eternally You will strengthen our will
We’ll be strong enough even death overcome.
Long forgotten those, who built You,
In the grave-yard their tombs are lost.
But their voices and echo resound –
Still in the church walls they echo to me…

The Supenka’s waters search in the willows
The Stream, which leads to the sea.
Here screaming longings search for the memories
I about you, You – about me

Far and unapproachable star
In my dreams even brighter flare
Thoughts can carry so far
But my heart is eternally here.

Proud and glorious You stand on the hill,
For your blessing many prayers will come.
Eternally You will strengthen our will
We’ll be strong enough even death overcome.
20. 05. 2004.

The Church choir of Baltinava

But their voices and echo resound –
Still in the church walls they echo to me…

It was the flower of Baltinava parish, which the most intelligent hard-working peasants attended. Many school-teachers came there to sing as well, as a matter of the fact – all learned people, who lived there. We can be proud about the people who used to live here.

The picture of the Catholic Church choir was kept all her life as sacred, precious thing by my spouse Vilhelmīne’s aunt Agata Zelča. Her brother Jānis Zelčs also took part in the choir.

It was possible to find some information about some members of the choir, who survived in „the spinning wheel of times”, however now they already rest in peace in native sands.

Henriks Gabrāns was from Bēliņu village. Such a beautiful voice! If he had had a chance to get musical education, he would have been like Tālis Matīss or other famous singer.

Jāzeps from Pļaviņu house spent fifteen years of his life underground, hiding from Soviet authorities. He did all his household work secretly at night. Once the party secretary of the collective farm told Jāzep’s sister: „You will live long, if you can make so wide and long hay swathes.” And he didn’t suspect who had been the real mower. After registration with the Soviet authorities Jāzeps spend all his life under stress and in fright: even in the church he used to turn his head towards the doors, checking if Security officers were not coming… He was very distressed for his son Valentīns, who lost his leg in an accident in forest and was crippled. So many tears were shed by Valentīn’s mother Agnese, but the harm couldn’t be undone.

Magdalena Zelča from Grūšļevas village didn’t have her own family. All her life was devoted to church and the choir. There she always found the peace of her heart and soul. So humbly went all the years of Magdalena’s life away, may she rest in God’s peace.

Staņislavs Logins from Torkovas village was a regular church choir’s singer. Both with his wife Domicella he brought up big family. You could admire Domicella’s stamina and patience – to get along with two her husband’s unmarried sisters… All the Logins’ children grew up and went away to the wide world. Only their youngest daughter Leontija stayed at her parents’ house, there she lives with her family.

Looking at the picture of Baltinavian church choir singers Pēteris Keišs from Rēzekne once said, remembering: “Baltinavian parish was lucky in the thirties and forties. See H. Novicāns in the photograph – he laid the foundations for the serious church singing in his time. Certainly, it was very significant, that the priest P. Apšinīks was not only a writer and publisher, but he also appreciated music very much and had a splendid voice. After the war organist H. Novicāns worked as a singing teacher and organ-player in Preiļi. His son Pēteris was born there, we both finished the piano class in Rezekne’s Music School. Graduated from Music Conservatory, now he works successfully in Jelgava and Rīga, teaching young pianists.

A very important role in Baltinava’s church music life was also played by the organist B. Jermaks, who contributed a lot to secure the parish choir a high level in the fifties and sixties. I got to know the Jermaks family also through his sons. In the sixties the composer and organist Romualds Jermaks worked at Rēzekne’s Music School. He taught us Harmony, but soon he moved to Rīga. The second B. Jermak’s son Jānis is an organist too and he works at St.Francis’s parish in Rīga.

Another important person in Baltinava parish had been organist Pāvils Zelčs, who after finishing organist school in Daugavpils, worked some time in his homeland – he continued Jermaks and Novicāns traditions. At the end of the forties he moved to Daugavpils, where he worked at St.Peter’s church till the end of his days in the nineties. He is buried at Daugavpils Catholic cemetery. Baltinavians remember him as “Sataku Paulis”. Pāvils and Anna Zelčs brought up their son Andrejs and daughter Valērija – both are talented pianists. At the moment Valērija is an assistant professor at Music Academy, Andrejs is a lecturer in Daugavpils, where also his mother Anna lives. It’s worth to add that people in Rēzekne also remember Valē-rija Zelča as a brilliant soloist and a splendid concertmaster (after graduation she worked at Rēzekne’s Secondary Music School).

I myself had the pleasure to sing at Baltinava Church choir from 1956 till 1961. But even being a small child I had been taken to “choir loft” and could watch the work of the choir and organist P. Zelčs. Since early childhood I had always wanted to be there.

Later the work at Baltinava church was taken by H. Seņkāns, who was in his turn a student of J. Krīvāns from Rēzekne, but my course mate Raimonds Igolnieks was J. Krīvān’s grandson.

They use to say: „Who sings, he prays twice”. Singing in the choir and the organ elevate the hearts of the prayers to God. As well as give artistic achievement, music skills’ improvement and the gift of God – voice – training to the singers! In a short time country dwarfs were able to master intricate musical scores.”....

...( 22–27p.)