Tallinn to apply for UNESCO City of Music title

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Second concert of the XXVII Song Festival "My Love" at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds on Sunday. July 7, 2019. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Tallinn is planning to apply to become a City of Music in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network this year. Currently, 47 cities from all over the world belong to the network of Music Cities, 19 of them from Europe.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said Tallinn is the largest center of music culture in Estonia, where song and dance festivals, as well as major international festivals and concerts, take place.

"Our history and traditions, even the song festival and the Song Festival Grounds alone are enough motivation to run for the City of Music," Kõlvart noted. "But in addition, our creative and learning environments and concert venues promote diverse music activities, such as making music, participation in music culture and creating music. Music is important for Tallinn, in cultural, educational, social and economic terms. Therefore, as the capital of the singing nation, we want to introduce the music culture of our city and people even more to the world and thereby contribute to the revival of Tallinn's cultural life and music sector."

The mayor also referred to a recent satisfaction survey of the people of Tallinn, which revealed that Tallinn is a city with a creative atmosphere.

"According to the survey, city dwellers also wanted more music events - concerts and festivals - in their cultural life. I believe that as a city of music, we can offer all this not only to the people of Tallinn, but also to all Estonian people and guests," said Kõlvart.

Tõnu Kaljuste, the artistic director of the Tallinn Philharmonic, said the city's candidacy for the UNESCO City of Music is a very pleasant initiative because any international cooperation and attention means respect and appreciation for musicians.

"It's a recognition that music born in our city speaks to an international audience, and our diverse and historically rich music story is worth telling. Any title is an advance, but a pleasant advance. This would help the friendship between the city and music to become an eternal marriage," said Kaljuste. "Most of the great things in this city have been born with music. There are few cities in the world where music would have played such a big role in revolutionary times. And where else can you see the "Song River" as 50,000 people move towards the Song Festival Grounds during the Song Festival and where the banks of this river are made of tens of thousands of music lovers."

Mapping of the Tallinn music sector conducted by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research found it makes up 75-80 percent of the entire Estonian music sector.

Applying for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network takes place every two years, most recently in 2017 and 2019. If the schedule is not changed due to the coronavirus, it will become clear in late autumn this year whether Tallinn has turned out to be a city of music or not.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004 with the aim of highlighting the role of culture and creativity in the sustainable development of cities. Two Estonian cities already belong to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network: Tartu, as a City of Literature, and, Viljandi as a City of Crafts and Folk Art.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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