The conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2014 to 2022, Kuzma is equally prominent as a clarinetist.
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Guntis Kuzma Biography

by James Manheim

The music director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2014 to 2022, Guntis Kuzma is equally prominent as a conductor and clarinetist. He has a strong orientation toward contemporary music and is also an important educator.

Kuzma began his professional career as a clarinetist. He studied with Sigurds Circenis at the Latvian Academy of Music, going on for a term at the Stockholm Royal Academy of Music under the tuition of Kjell-Inge Stevensson and for master classes with Eduard Brunner and Bruno di Girolamo. Prizes helped spread his name more widely; these included wins at the 2001 Eduards Medins Young Clarinet Player International Contest in Latvia and the 2003 International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a conductor, he was trained by Andris Vecumnieks in Latvia. Kuzma's first position was as a clarinetist with the Riga Chamber Musicians. He moved to the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in 2002 and became the group's principal clarinetist in 2008. He took the same position with the Sinfonietta Riga in 2006 or 2007.

In the mid-2000s decade, Kuzma began to play an important role in the Latvian contemporary music scene, giving the premieres of the Concertino for clarinet and string orchestra by Alvils Altmanis, the Concerto for clarinet with orchestra of Mārīte Dombrovska, and several pieces by Rolands Kronlaks. As a soloist, he has appeared in the U.S., Germany, and Sweden, as well as in several other Baltic and Eastern European countries. Kuzma became chief conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and recorded several albums with the group before stepping down in 2022. Those albums, released on the Ondine label, covered music by composers Talivaldis Kenins and Jānis Ivanovs. His recording of Ivanovs' Symphonies Nos. 17 and 18 became a best-seller in 2022. Kuzma teaches clarinet at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music in Riga and served there as head of the department of wind instruments.

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