We are all familiar with the assertion that Estonians are an artistically inclined group of people. Who of us does not feel a surge of pride when conversation turns to the “Singing revolution”? We are proud of our cultural heritage and the accomplishments we have achieved in this arena.
The road that art must travel to go from obscurity to recognition is long and often arduous. This process can take several months and sometimes even several years. Upon completion, the artist must find an avenue to present their work. With any luck, the work receives more than one showing/performance, but sadly they often lie dormant, silently “collecting dust”.
This unfortunately has been the fate of many very fine Estonian composers and their life work here in North America. An abundance of beautiful and interesting music has been written, but very little of it has been recorded and therefore is unattainable to the public.
When pondering this issue I came to the conclusion that this situation needs to be remedied. I shared my thoughts with several individuals who are leaders in Estonian cultural activities in the Toronto area. Together we decided that it was of utmost importance to create a record of the compositions of Estonians living outside of Estonia in the last century. If we (Estonians living outside of Estonia) do not undertake to accomplish this task, it is abundantly clear that this will never happen and an entire segment of Estonian cultural history will be lost forever.
On January 1, 2006 the Estonians in North America Music Fund/EESTLASED PÕHJA-AMEERIKAS MUUSIKA FOND was established. The purpose of this fund is to create a public record and promote the musical compositions of Estonians living outside of Estonia by recording and releasing their music.
We desire that future generations, both in and outside Estonia, would have access to and knowledge of the many faces of their musical heritage. Composers such as Kaljo Raid, Udo Kasemets, Lembit Avesson, Roman Toi, Jan Järvlepp, Elma Miller, Leo and Taavo Virkhaus, Johannes Tall and many others, have written many interesting works and have contributed to enriching our lives and the cultural heritage we are so proud of.
The first project has already been set in motion. A concert honouring the life work of Pastor/Composer Kaljo Raid will take place in Tallinn on June 18,2006. A CD of the music performed will be released in Canada soon after.
A project of this magnitude can only come to fruition if the Estonian community stands behind it and makes a heartfelt commitment to see it through to the end. Now, while we have the will, the people and the resources, is the optimal time to undertake such a monumental task.
This brings us to the reason for this article. We are turning to you our fellow Estonians with a sincere request: we need your generous financial support in order to build an endowment which will see this enormous project through to completion. This is not a short term project, but one which will require resolve and diligence. In trying to calculate a timeframe for this undertaking, a conservative estimate would allow for at least ten years. If we are able to produce one recording annually, we will consider ourselves successful. At this time the production of one CD will cost in excess of $18,000.00. That is why a Fund to which donations are added annually is a necessity.
The following organizations concur with the objective of this project: The Estonian Arts Center, Eesti Sihtkapital Kanadas, and the Estonian Baptist Church. We are inviting other organizations in the Estonian community to recognize the merit of this project as well and join in the effort. Tax deductible donation slips will be provided upon request
Donations sent through the Estonian Arts Center should be designated: EPA Music Fund and sent to: Estonian Arts Center, c/o Pahapill, 2204-2045 Lakeshore Blvd. West, Toronto, Ont M8V 2Z6 phone:416 259-9779
The response we receive will indicate to us the will of the Estonian community in this endeavour. We await your positive response trusting that you will see the value in what we are trying to do.
Fund Directors: Avo Kittask, Charles Kipper, Viljar Puu Weimann, Stella and Johannes Pahapill
Estonians in North America Music Fund