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From 22 to 24 June RSU folk dance group Ačkups participated in the 18th Baltic Student Song and Dance Festival Gaudeamus in Tartu, Estonia. The concert programme was devoted to the summer solstice, combining traditional and contemporary forms of expression. The student festival was attended by RSU rector Professor Aigars Pētersons.

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On 22 June, participants of the student festival Gaudeamus gathered in Kassitoome Valley for the fire-lighting ceremony and to start the torchlight parade through the city. The destination of the parade was the bank of the river Emajogi - the place where the festival was solemnly opened with a concert – Carl Orff's cantata Carmina Burana that was performed by Estonia’s best student choirs and the festival’s orchestra consisting of musicians from the universities of Tartu and Tallinn. The performance was enlivened by impressive lighting, pyrotechnics and water effects. The traditional Gaudeamus festival was opened by the presidents of several countries, among them the president of Latvia, Mr. Raimonds Vējonis.  

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On the evening of 23 June, Tartu’s Tamme Stadium was captivated by the mysterious dynamics of the festival’s central dance performance The Mystery of Midsummer Eve – a journey through the similarities and differences in the Midsummer Night traditions of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. This was the first time in Gaudeamus history that the dance performance combined traditional folk dance and contemporary dance moves.  

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RSU Folk Dance Group Ačkups. First from left:  Ensemble leader Elita Treilone, one of the directors of Latvian dance programme at Gaudeamus. In the centre (with cap): RSU rector Aigars Pētersons

On 24 June, participants of the festival gathered for the traditional Gaudeamus parade to head to the Tartu Song Festival Grounds – the venue of the festival’s closing event “The Songs of Midsummer” where the choirs from all three Baltic countries performed their national programmes and afterwards joined in for collective choral songs, orchestral and dance performances. 

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Although the weather could have been better, the heavy rain on the evening of 24 June did not stop the closing parade and the concert. In the centre: RSU rector Aigars Pētersons at the Gaudeamus parade

The student song festival tradition dates back to 1955 and originates in Estonia. Gaudeamus is organised every four years, each time in a different Baltic state. The previous Baltic Student Song and Dance Festival was held in 2014 in the city of Daugavpils, Latvia and the next festival will be hosted by Lithuania.