The anniversary of the Rothko Chapel will be celebrated with a Latvian jazz concert

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, USA. In honor of this, a special arts program has been organized online, the central event of which will be the concert Rothko in Jazz by the Māris Briežkalns Quintet on March 11.
March 10, 12:40
Kaspars Zaviļeiskis

The video recording of the concert was made in February this year at Latvian Radio 1st studio, but on March 11 at 6 PM Houston time the final result will be offered to fans of jazz and Rothko art all over the world at Vimeo stream. It will be free online event with the option to donate. Registration is possible at the Rothko Chapel website until the start of the event. Mark Rothko's son Christopher will address the audience before the Rothko in Jazz video broadcast. Afterwards, the recording of the concert will also be available at the Rothko Chapel's online archive.

The Rothko Chapel regularly hosts art exhibitions, seminars, performances, concerts and other events. It was founded in 1971 by art patrons John and Dominique de Menill, and the Chapel also features paintings by Mark Rothko. The building is located in the picturesque area of Houston's museums and other cultural institutions, and it’s shape is an octagon borrowed from the Greek cross. The design of the chapel was largely determined by Mark Rothko himself. In 2000, the Rothko Chapel was included in the US National Register of Historic Places.

The concert of Latvian jazz musicians is included in the anniversary program of the Rothko Chapel in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston and the Honorary Consulate of Latvia in Texas. The idea to include Rothko in Jazz in the Rothko Chapel celebrations came from Sandija Bayot, the Chief Development Officer at World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, who is a Latvian living in United States. 

“Three years ago, I had the great pleasure of enjoying the Māris Briežkalns Quintet program Rothko in Jazz live at the Mikhail Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York”, says Sandija. “At that moment, I realized that everything is perfectly connected together – there is a concert program of Latvian musicians dedicated to Rothko's work, and in Houston, where I live and work, there is a Rothko Chapel. The concert was scheduled to take place in Houston last year, but for known reasons the plans were changed and Rothko in Jazz was included in the chapel's 50th anniversary program, which is organized online.”

Sandija Bayot is not hiding that she is always especially happy to promote cultural and other projects in the USA related to Latvia. One of the largest such projects was the illumination of Niagara Falls in the colors of the Latvian flag in honor of the centenary celebration of her native country. Now she wants to show Rothko's direct connection with Latvia to culture lovers in Houston and Texas. “Rothko's name is well known here and the chapel is very well attended”, continues Sandija. “But almost no one knows that Rothko came from Latvia. I want to rectify this situation. Rothko in Jazz is a very beautiful way to present this information. In addition, we will definitely wait for the moment when the concert of Māris Briežkalns Quintet in Houston will be able to take place in person. I very much hope that this will happen in November this year.” 

“USA/Latvian relations are fortified through meaningful cultural exchange”, says Peter Ragauss, Honorary Consul of Latvia in Texas. “As Honorary Consul, I sponsor as many Latvia-promoting cultural and business activities as possible, to try to generate enthusiasm and visibility about Latvia to any and all American audiences. Concert Rothko in Jazz brings Latvian exposure to Americans at the highest level, with Rothko paintings and the finest Latvian jazz musicians combining for a world-class visual and musical concert. It brings together for the first time, the Rothko Chapel community with its huge following and the entire USA Latvian diaspora community for a majestic one hour celebration. The American art world is also taking notice, as we have even seen the famous Pace Gallery in New York promoting this event on their website.” 

“For 50 years the Rothko Chapel has served both as a place for reflection and contemplation, as well as gathering site to address human rights and social justice issues”, says David Leslie, Rothko Chapel's executive director. “It is a great honor to lift up Mark Rothko's Latvian roots and celebrate the Chapel's anniversary by presenting Rothko in Jazz by the Māris Briežkalns Quintet. The Chapel has always been both a local and global organization, and this partnership continues the Chapel's international relationships.”

The project is implemented with the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia target program Latvia-100, and supported by Sandija Bayot and the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, Peter Ragauss and the Honorary Consulate of Latvia in Texas, Rothko Chapel and the City of Houston.