Minister: Losing EDF orchestra would have long-standing effect on culture

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Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) plan to cut their orchestra would have long-standing effects on Estonian culture, Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center) writes.

"Dissolving the Orchestra of the Estonian Defence Forces is a decision that is hard to find justification for," Ott wrote on social media. "I understand the complicated budgetary situation, but the 102-year old EDF orchestra is not just an important symbol but also a carrier of high culture, whose concerts have been enjoyed by the Estonian people for different holidays and events."

"Each cultural country has their own professional symphony orchestra, an opera house, a professional representative choir and a defense forces orchestra," Ott noted. "I do not consider it correct that Estonia is set to become one of the only nations in the world to not have a defense forces orchestra."

The minister said the EDF orchestra has 240 performances a year on average. "They are seen on national ceremonies, during the song festival procession, at receptions of high-ranking guests and they also lead the Independence day parade. That role can not be filled by any other orchestra," Ott emphasized.

She added that the initial decision has not considered long-standing effects. "Putting and end to a tradition that has lasted for over a century will have an effect on our values and cultures," Ott wrote and added that re-creating such an orchestra in the future is not a simple task, as there might not be enough professional musicians available.

"I do not consider this the correct decision and I think we must find another solution. The EDF orchestra has symbolic value and it is tied other important traditions for Estonians, the ending of which is not in Estonia's interests," Ott added.

EDF chief Lt. Gen. Martin Herem announced on Sunday that the defense forces are planning to cut the historic orchestra starting September 1. The cut comes after the government has issued ministries a task to find cuts in the state budget.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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