Latest Estonian choral music award to Triin Koch Eesti Elu
Triin Koch in front of the Tartu City Hall
Her visit to the Estonian choral music community in Toronto, this time personal and informal, was slowly winding down. Then came a sudden call from Eesti. She had been chosen as the principal recipient of a prestigious choral music award. Those previously chosen include well-known conductors such as Venno Laul, Eri Klas, Tõnu Kaljuste and Hirvo Surva. As her plane touched down in Tallinn, she readied herself for a subsequent interview with the most prominent newspaper in the country.
Triin Koch has worked hard in helping to maintain Estonia’s identity as a singing nation. Chief conductor of Tartu University’s Academic Women’s Choir since 2005, she drives once a week to Tallinn to conduct its alumni choir as well. This along with the University’s mixed chamber choir (since 2001). While receiving other honours in recent years, she has been busy conducting concerts not only in Estonia but also outside the country.
The current award is named after Gustav Ernesaks, the foremost figure in choral conducting in Estonia during the extended Soviet occupation period. The Ernesaks Foundation got its start in 1993 when the country’s dynamic organizations and institutions – the National Choral and Dance Festival, the Choral Federation, two principal male choirs and the Music Academy – decided to honour Estonia’s choral activity while celebrating the memory of Gustav Ernesaks. Financial Support for the award is provided by the Festival Foundation and the National Culture Fund.
As the principal recipient of this year’s award, Triin acknowledges two other current winners, Varje Vürst and Kuno Kerge. The former has been an unseen force in directing, encouraging and managing primarily in the area of youth choirs. Kuno Kerge, in the process of obtaining his Master’s degree at the Academy, is a choral director and assistant director for a number of choirs. Having met him personally, I was impressed by this dynamic young person’s dedication and strong public relations side.
Triin Koch’s mid-month interview with reporter Madis Vaikmaa for the newspaper ,,Postimees” appeared in the week-end pull-out supplement ,,Arter” (as in artery). While the interview was motivated by the Ernesaks award and the subsequent acclaim, the questions posed and Triin’s informative answers provided details about her recent sabbatical and her views on choral conducting.
Triin’s trip to Canada was the subject of a longer article in the previous edition of Eesti Elu (Dec. 16). The visit also became part of the ,,Arter” interview, which revealed much more about her long discussion in Toronto with the legendary composer-conductor Roman Toi, thus adding a deeper understanding of that unique and historical encounter.
I heartily recommend the interview in the Arter supplement of Dec. 17 to our Estonian-speaking readers. Triin’s answers provide a lot of substance in the areas of choral conducting in Estonia and differentiation among amateur and professional choirs.
In view of her recent receipt of the Ernesaks award, it is appropriate to conclude with a tribute summarizing Triin Koch’s contribution to Estonian choral music. Parallel to Hirvo Surva’s recent laudatory comments but from a different source, namely the remarks (anon.) on the inside cover of the Academic Women’s Choir’s latest (2015) CD, Võrsed or Seedlings, we may wish to quote the following:
,,She (is) recognized for her encouraging attitude towards her singers, her nuanced and exact interpretation, and her unwavering dedication to the achievement of the highest possible quality.”