Latvian composer Santa Ratniece (*1977) studied at J. Vītols Latvia Music Academy and graduated in musicology (2000) and in composition (2002) with professor Romualds Kalsons. Later on she studied composition with English composer David Rowland at Enschede Conservatory in Netherlands. Afterwards Santa Ratniece went on with her studies at Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with Estonian composer Helena Tulve and in 2007 she obtained her MA.
Santa Ratniece first came into public view in 2004 after winning the 1st prize at the 2004 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for her work sens nacre (in the category of composers under 30). Her choir composition Saline was among selected works in 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, but her orchestra piece Shant Nadi in 2012 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. Furthermore, Santa Ratniece was awarded the Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2006 of the daily newspaper Diena for choir piece Saline, performed by Latvian Radio choir, conductor Sigvards Klava. Sens nacre for ensemble was awarded the Copyrights’ Infinity Award 2007 and Chu Dal for choir – the Copyrights’ Infinity Award 2011. 7th Liepaja concerto for piano and symphonic orchestra received Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2014 of the daily newspaper Diena and was nominated for supreme Grand Music Award 2014 in Latvia. Also the Hirondelles du Coeur for mixed choir and orchestra was nominated for Grand Music Award 2006.
Most of Ratniece’s music is devoted to the chamber choir, she has received regular commissions from the Latvian Radio choir and her relationship with the choir started with Saline in 2006 and followed by Hirondelles du Coeur (2007, for choir and orchestra) horo horo hata hata (2008, for 12 voices), Chu Dal (2009), Fuoco Celeste (2011 for cello solo and choir) and Nada el layli (2015 for kemenche, qanun and choir). Latvian Radio choir chamber singers are the soloists in Santa Ratniece’s first stage work – multimedia opera by Hotel Pro Forma – WAR SUM UP. Music. Manga. Machines. This opera was premiered in Latvian National Opera in 2011, conducted by Kaspars Putniņš, having had further performances more than twenty theatre stages around Europe and Asia. Commission from Latvian Radio choir and Sarband ensemble – Nada el Layli was premiered in Oslo Church music festival in March 2015. In Santas Ratniece’s piece the choir was specifically created to feel secure and comfortable, just as in the maqam (place, space) tradition. The small Greek kemenche violin reflects qanun melodies, and its delicate arabesques are echoed in the quietly expressive sounds of the kemenche. In October 2017 the premiere of Morning Rain took place in Beijing Concert hall. It was commissioned by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and premiered by the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra.
Santa Raniece’s music has been widely played in Baltic states. Her compositions have been included regularly in the programs of Arena Festival, Skaņu Mežs Festival, Latvian New Music Days, Introvert Music Festival, Autumn Chamber Music Festival, Cesis Art Festival (Latvia), Estonian Music Days 2007, 2008, Autumn Festival (Estonia), ISCM World Music Days Vilnius 2008, GAIDA 2009, Music of Changes 2011 (Lithuania).