Eesti Elu
Estonia Koor, “Songs of Spring”, April 3rd
Meelejahutus 18 Mar 2011 Sam BartonEesti Elu
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I’m often asked as a British person, “Why are you so interested in Estonian music?” Now that is a question that as far as I’m concerned shouldn’t need to be asked! But unfortunately not enough people in the UK are that knowledgeable of the rich choral culture that Estonia has. I was first exposed to Estonian music when I was studying at the University of York in Northeast England: I had built a fascination of Finnish music having played many a symphony by Sibelius, and my studies in Finnish music lead me to the Kalevala. In writing a paper about the Kalevala, a friend of mine suggested I explore the music of Veljo Tormis; Instantaneously I was hooked!

When I moved to Toronto last September to study my conducting masters at the University of Toronto, I was lucky enough to meet and befriend a superb Estonian-Canadian named Kristina Agur, who sings with me in the MacMillan Singers. After a couple of nights of cocktails and marvellously geeky Baltic oriented music conversations she suggested I come along to Toronto’s Estonia Koor. I was made to feel very welcome, perhaps it was because of my interest in the music, perhaps because I’m a bass. I may never know! Either way, it is a choir I love, and am most grateful to be a part of.

My time in Estonia Koor has enlightened me on why Estonia has such a powerful choral tradition, and why so much of Tormis’ output is choral; the main source of this enlightenment was that wonderful DVD “The Singing Revolution”: a DVD I imagine many Estonians to have seen and one that was so fascinating, and so moving to watch. Now every time I hear 300,000 or so people singing “Mu isamaa on minu arm”, a tear comes to my eye.

Up until last month I thought the only time you would find people from the UK, Latvia, and Estonia singing in the same room would be at the Eurovision Song Contest, however, on Wednesday, February 16th, I was proven wrong! Toronto’s Estonia Koor was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with the Latvian conductor Ints Teterovskis, who in addition to being an incredibly talented musician, I’ve found was one of the contestants on Latvia’s Dancing with the Stars! Now while we did not get to see his rendition of the Tango, he did provide us with some top quality conducting that was wonderfully musical, and really helped us to achieve a unified sense of ensemble. We also learned some superb new techniques to preserve our vocal health, and new warm-ups to invigorate us for rehearsal. By the end of the session the change in sound to the choir was remarkable, and should create great results for our upcoming concert. I invite you all to join us for our concert brunch Songs of Spring, Sunday, April 3 at 1 p.m. at the Estonian House. Tickets are available from Estonia Choir members and at the E-Store.
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