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, as her orchestra piece Shant Nadi in 2012. Santa Ratniece was awarded the Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2006 of the daily newspaper Diena for choir piece Saline. Sens nacre was awarded the Copyrights’ Infinity Award in 2007 and Chu Dal for choir in 2011. 7th Liepaja concerto for piano and symphonic orchestra received Latvian Annual Award for Culture 2014 of the daily newspaper Diena.
Most of Ratniece’s music is devoted to the chamber choir, she has received regular commissions from Latvian Radio choir and relationship with the choir started with Saline in 2006 and followed by Hirondelles du Coeur (2007) and 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 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.