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Egija Ungure (she/her)

Graduate Student in Choral Conducting
Egija Ungure


B.A., Music Pedagogy, Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music, 2021

Egija’s first musical memory is being on the stage as a three-year-old kid in a small town in Latvia, called Aloja, singing “Vār, māmiņa, piena putru” in front of an audience, wearing her nicest dress and fanciest shoes. That is where her musical story began.

As a child, she pursued this passion. As she started to sing at such a young age, she really enjoyed being on the stage, performing. After lots of solo singing competitions and concerts with the kids' music group, at the age of seven, she decided to attend Music School, specializing in Choir. The School showed her the other opportunities that music can give - she started to learn how to play piano and attended her first choir.

Latvia has a huge choir culture - choral singing has been part of music education in schools for generations. Every five years, Latvians come together to celebrate the culture by attending a Song and Dance festival called “Dziesmu svētki,” a show that is so strong that it is included in the UNESCO List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Heritage and Humanity. Egija’s first experience in this festival was in 2013, as a choir singer of Jazeps Medins Riga 1st Music School Girls' choir “VIVACE.”

She has always been very interested in different cultures and traditions. The 8th World Choir Games in 2014, which happened in Riga, Latvia, was an event that gave her a first chance to learn more about choirs all around the world, not only nationally.

After graduating from Music School at age 14, Egija joined the Chamber Choir “Tonika,” and they received many awards - Gold medalist of the International Youth Choir Festival and Competition in Bratislava, Slovakia (2015), participant in the Choir Festival in Aveyron, France (2016) and winner of the Gold Diploma in the International Choir Competition “Silver Bells 2017” in Daugavpils, Latvia. This expanded her experience internationally, as she heard other choir performances and met singers from all around Europe.

Egija’s hunger for music education and learning something new all the time led her to study in Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music. She was deeply inspired and motivated by her professor Romans Vanags, who is a well-known choir conductor and the Artistic Director of Interkultur (Germany) organization.

With individual conducting lessons twice a week, piano, solo singing, guitar, solfeggio, music composition, and others, she got the confidence that she needed to teach music. A month after she started her studies, she got her first job as a choir conductor at Riga Teika Secondary School, with high school-aged kids. Later she started to lead Girls and Boys choirs too, while still in the Academy and singing in one of the best youth choirs in Latvia - “Balsis.” In 2018, Egija had her first experience with Latvians in the United States when she participated in a summer camp with the New York Latvian choir singers. At the end of the camp, they had a choir concert with Latvian music and folk songs.

As the pandemic started, and all the choirs shut down, Egija decided to use the time to try something new and different. She came to the USA as an Au Pair, where she spent almost two years working with kids, living in an American host family, and having an adventure of a lifetime. She really enjoyed this experience and was happy to share her knowledge about music with her host kids by teaching piano and singing. Egija also joined the Northwest Chamber Chorus in Seattle and spent two years singing in it, as she was passionate about learning new composers and music that she had not heard while singing or leading choirs in Latvia. Last year, Egija performed “My Song” by Eriks Esenvalds in Seattle as a guest conductor and shared her story with the choir singers.

She has also shared and developed her passion for music in other ways. One of the truly inspirational personalities that she has met in Seattle is Heather MacLaughlin Garbes. Last year she joined The Magi Ensemble – a professional SA vocal ensemble that specializes in music from the Baltic region of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, led by her. Their values of cultural understanding, community, and quality, and their philosophy to show people how music can empower them inspired her.

One of the things that Egija is most proud of is re-establishing and conducting the Seattle Latvian Choir. In the summer of 2023 choir went to Riga, Latvia to participate in the Song and Dance festival. Egija has worked hard and patiently to make sure that she shows the singers the values and philosophy that she has as a choir conductor.

Starting Fall 2023, Egija is a Graduate student at the University of Washington, in the Choral Conducting program, as well as an Assistant Conductor of the University Singers.

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