Eesti Elu
Choir from Estonia at Canada’s national choral conference, Podium 2012 (1)
Kultuur 26 Apr 2012 Andres RaudseppEesti Elu
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Canada’s national choral conference will be held in Ottawa this year. The event, called Podium 2012 and held from May 17 – 20, will bring choristers composers, educators and administrators together for an event that will highlight Canada’s top professional and amateur choral ensembles.

For Estonians in Canada the event will have special meaning since one of the choirs performing will be the University of Tartu Academic Female Choir.

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The event in Ottawa, though centred around the Lord Elgin Hotel and held at various venues, will immediately bring to mind the national choral festival held in Estonia’s national capital every five years, the historically based spectacular Laulupidu. Podium is different. Instead of creating a mass choir of 30,000 under a huge acoustic arch, the conference showcases a dozen choirs chosen by audition across the country. Podium participants are always eager to hear the concert by Canada’s National Youth Choir, this year under the leadership of Ivars Taurins, founder and conductor of Canada’s Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and well-known to Toronto’s Estonian choristers.

Another difference is the emphasis on professional development and exchange of fresh ideas. As a result, workshops play an important role in the four-day program. Besides giving a 25-minute performance at the opening day’s “Spotlight” concert on the afternoon of May 17, the Estonian women’s choir will be part of a workshop on Estonian choral music the following day.

Estonian leaders in Ottawa have been apprised of the choir’s arrival and are planning meetings and get-togethers with the Tartu University choir. However, the total event itself is of such significance, that it will draw greater attention to Canadian choral events on the part of Estonian-Canadians in the future. Already the Estonian Choral Federation has become a member of Choirs Ontario, the prime organizer of Podium 2012.

Two more highlights on Podium’s menu: opening Gala Concert on the evening of opening day, featuring a choir of 120 voices in a performance of Missa Gaia and the Elmer Iseler Singers, one of Canada’s top professional chamber choirs.

It is satisfying to note that the 2012 celebration will be the first Podium in both official languages, a must for an event in the nation’s capital. However, according to Elizabeth Shannon, executive director of Choirs Ontario and prime organizer of the big event, the Estonian choir’s participation is also special.

“We are delighted to have an overseas choir for the first time ever.
This coincides with the contribution of Estonian-Canadians to Canada.”

The trip to Ottawa follows on the heels of the main concert by the women’s choir in Toronto, which is to be held on Tuesday, May 15 at 7.30 p.m. at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, home of Tafelmusik and only three short blocks west of Tartu College on Bloor, one of the Estonian community’s cultural centres in the city.

A novel and totally different approach to choral music will be presented by the women’s choir as part of the Spring Festival at the Toronto Estonian House on the early evening of Saturday, May 12. The movements, created by stage director Anne Türnpu, have received acclaim all over Estonia, particularly at a recent performance in Tartu’s famous Vanemuine Theatre. The choir’s musical director is the prize-winning conductor Triin Koch.

So, from Toronto to Ottawa, the University of Tartu Academic Female Choir will create excitement wherever it goes, bringing the intensity and passion of Estonian choral music – Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Ester Mägi and others – to listeners of various cultures.

In the word’s of Podium’s Elizabeth Shannon: “Welcome to Podium 2012 and its enlightening workshops and inspiring concerts!”

And we say: “Tere tulemast, Tartu Ülikooli Akadeemiline Naiskoor!”

(Look up Podium 2012 and participating choirs online.)
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