Eesti Elu
ORIANA Women’s Choir Honours Estonia’s Beloved Choral Composer Estonian Life
Kultuur 18 Feb 2017 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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It is a long way from Tallinn to Toronto but the bond between the two cities will be strengthened this spring as we remember and celebrate one of Estonia’s greatest choral composers, Veljo Tormis. Both the Estonian community and the choral community were saddened to learn of Tormis’s passing on January 21 this year. That same day, Toronto’s ORIANA Women’s Choir was rehearsing for a rare North American performance of Tormis’s major work, Looduspildid (Nature Pictures). The singers’ sadness over Tormis’s loss blossomed into a determination to share his beautiful music with as many people as possible at their upcoming concert.
[photo of Veljo Tormis]
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While much of Veljo Tormis’s work is based on folk tunes, the music for Looduspildid is totally original. The style has been described as “magical minimalism”, rooted in tradition and the natural elements but touching a whole range of human emotions in its unpredictable rhythms and unexpected harmonies.
Looduspildid is a four-movement work with each movement illustrating a different season. The Autumn set, Sügismaastikud (Autumn Landscapes), was composed first, in 1964, based on seven poems by Viivi Luik. This set, although unpublished, became immediately popular in Estonia. It was performed widely, prompting Tormis to invite other poets to write short poems to be set to music. Music publisher Fennica Gehrmann printed each movement as it became available: Suvemotiivid (Summer Motifs) in 2007, Talvemustrid (Winter Patterns) in 2008, and finally Kevadkillud (Spring Sketches) in 2014. Parts of the cycle have been performed at different times by various choral groups, but ORIANA will be the first choir in Canada to present the entire work in concert in its original version for women’s voices.
[photo of ORIANA Women’s Choir]

(photo: Black Umbrella Photography)
ORIANA Women's Choir is an auditioned ensemble of female choristers from across Southern Ontario. Led by Artistic Director Mitchell Pady, the choir is dedicated to artistic excellence and versatility in performing choral music in a variety of genres. The organization is also committed to expanding the repertoire for women’s voices through commissioning new works by Canadian composers. In 2012 Estonian-Canadian composer Riho Maimets composed a gorgeous setting of Laudate Dominum especially for ORIANA. The choir proudly premièred the work in May, 2013.
ORIANA looks forward to strengthening its connection to Toronto’s Estonian community through its performance of Looduspildid as part of the upcoming concert, Journey Around the Sun, on March 5, 2017, 3pm at Grace Church on-the-Hill. Tickets are available through the choir’s website ( or from UofT Tix (416-978-8849).
ORIANA will dedicate their performance to the memory of Veljo Tormis (1930-2017).

Julia Lee
February 13, 2017
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