The song “Taandujad”, created by Erkki-Sven Tüür specifically for this summer’s Song Festival, will remain in the program even after an opinion article sparked controversy over its ambiguous message.
The management of the festival announced on Wednesday that despite Tüür’s public announcement saying he would like to withdraw the song from the program fearing debates which would cast a shadow on the event, the song will nevertheless remain in the program, kultuur.err.ee reported.
The song’s lyrics are a poem written by poet Peep Ilmet in the late 1980s and its title can be translated roughly as "The Retreaters."
A diplomat, Margus Laidre, wrote an opinion in Postimees last week in which he said Estonia should not be gloomy and fatalistic in light of geopolitical threats. Toward the end of his piece, Laidre brought up the song and questioned whether it was suitable for the Song Festival.
Organizer Hirvo Surva told ETV that the Song Festival is an emotional issue, as the debates surrounding Tüür’s composition demonstrate, but added that the organizers “cannot ask everyone for their opinion on what to play and sing before every festival.”
Tüür was asked to write the piece with the aim of enriching the choral music scene and bringing new color to Estonian choral music, Surva said.
The piece has a power that becomes obvious with interplay of the lyrics, the music and the choral performance, organizers said.
The Tartu University Chamber Choir yesterday made a statement in support of keeping the song in the program.
“Like with this song, it is also the case with many other things and phenomena in Estonia that superficiality and failure to apply oneself puts the trivial, the lightweight and the easily mastered to the pedestal,” the choir said in a statement.
“I cannot forbid or order anyone, I just made my opinion clear: I do not wish that someone higher up coerces people to perform my work,” Tüür later commented. “If the singers wish to sing it, they eventually will.”