Touched by Time, written by Ingrid Silm
With the upcoming XXVI Song Celebration in Tallinn less than 100 days away (!), Estonia Choir is hard at work rehearsing the 27 songs it will perform as part of the festivities. After a year of practicing as well as a personal visit from the Song Celebrations’ artistic director, Hirvo Surva, the choir was delighted to receive word that they have been accepted to sing in the massed choirs, mixed choirs and selected choirs categories at the upcoming festival.
As part of the preparations, the Estonia Choir will perform a special concert Touched by Time featuring the selected choirs program on Sunday, March 9 at 1 p.m. at the Toronto Estonian House. This is a unique opportunity to revisit the history of the Estonian Song Celebrations as this program features the mixed choir songs from the past 25 song celebrations which best represents its music and era.
The theme of a “history lesson” came to artistic director Hirvo Surva several years ago when he came across the songbook from the very first Song Celebration in 1869. Working with his men’s chamber choir Revalia, they learned the entire 27 song program and performed it a few months later. For Surva, this experience raised more questions as to how the first song celebrations came to be, in addition to questions about all other song celebrations – how many songs were sung? How many songs were in Estonian? When did mixed choirs, women’s’ choirs, children’s’ choirs begin participating? When did professional composers begin to be represented in the repertoire? And so on.
Surva realized now is an ideal time to look back on the Song Celebrations’ history to better understand where we had come from and how we have grown, and so this program was born.
As mixed choirs first joined the Song Celebrations in 1891, Estonia’s concert will begin with Miina Härma’s Enne ja nüüd (Then and Now) based on lyrics from Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald’s epic Kalevipoeg. Along the way, we will feature selections from Mart Saar, one of Estonia’s most prolific nationalistic choral composers from the early 1900s. The most notable is his Mis need ohjad meida hoidvad (What are these reins holding us?) or as it’s more commonly known Leelo; a cry for freedom both during it’s period of composition (1912, rearranged from mixed choir in 1919) and later during the Soviet occupation.
The luscious strains of Tuudur Vettik’s Nokturn (Nocturne) (representing the 1975 Song Celebrations) represent the beauty of Estonian music that could still be heard despite the harsh ruling Soviet regime that oppressed not only the singers but severly punished the creative class, most notably Tuudur Vettik and his fellow 1947 Song Festival artistic directors, Alfred Karindi and Riho Päts who were arrested and sent to Siberia for years of “rehabilitation”.
The more recent history of the new Estonian Awakening is also well represented in the program with songs from René Eespere Ärkamise aeg (Awakening), Tõnis Mägi Koit (Dawn) and from his famous five patriotic songs from 1988, Alo Mattiisen’s Sind surmani (’Til Death).
Rounding out a wonderful afternoon of festivities will be guest performers, the folkdancers of TERR Kungla, who are also busily preparing to participate in the XIX Dance Celebrations in Tallinn this July.
For tickets and table reservations please contact Asta Lokk 416-485-559 or .