The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with a concert at the Nobel Hall of the Noblessner Foundry. Under the baton of famed conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen premiered his new composition "Freedom."
On the last day of June, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, one of the prime choirs worldwide, celebrated its anniversary with a stunning concert at the Noblessner Foundry in Tallinn, ERR's Kultuur portal reports.
Under the guidance of the choir's founder and principal conductor, Tõnu Kaljuste, the program blended the distinct traditional and experimental sound worlds of the human voice, the organ and the accordion's.
Tõnu Kaljuste, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director, has chosen two exceptional compositions for the anniversary celebration.
One of them is "Laudes Organi" — written in 1966 for choir and organ by one of Hungary's greatest composers Zoltán Kodály. It's a fantasia based on a 12th-century Swiss chant that combines Wagnerian and Lisztian musical themes with the chromatic harmony of early western vocal music traditions.
The musical piece is set to anonymous poetry on the importance of self-mastery and growth, the power of music and the importance of God worship. It showcases the magnificence and musical potential of the combination of organ sound with human voice.
"Laudes Organi" is performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Choir with organ soloist Kadri Toomoja.
The second piece is "Vabadus" ("Freedom"), which has been composed by Kimmo Pohjonen especially for the choir's 40th anniversary. During the concert, Pohjonen — arguably Finland's most avant-garde contemporary musician — performs virtuoso accordion solos with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
"Vabadus" is a three-part composition for mixed choir, accordion, electronics and piano.
Pohjonen said that it is inspired by political currents in Europe and in particular by Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "While we take our freedoms and peace for granted, these notions are now being tested again."
In "Vabadus" the power of singing together blends ancient sounds and primal rhythms into a strong message conveying the need for peace and liberty.
The program reflects the two poles in the Philharmonic Chamber Choir's repertoire and the opposing directions of the two arrows in its emblem, the organizers said.
"The church pipe organ is on one side... the tavern whistle accordion — on the other. The text from a 12th-century Swiss monastery... [contrasts] Kimmo's vocalizations and singular words. The first piece is well-known, beloved and performed all over the world... the second — premiered only here today," Kaljuste said on the occasion.
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC) was born out of a dream.
Tõnu Kaljuste formed the EPCC in 1981 and served as its artistic director and principal conductor for 20 years. The choir developed alongside Estonian contemporary music and has risen to the top of the world's professional performers. On this voyage, it has been led by such conductors as Paul Hillier, Daniel Reuss, and Kaspars Putni, with Veljo Tormis, Arvo Part, and other Estonian composers being a great source of inspiration.
The choir's repertoire ranges from Gregorian chant and baroque to music of the 21st century with an emphasis on the work of Estonian composers.
The EPCC has performed on some of the world's most renowned stages and its recordings have won a number of prestigious awards.
From the choir's nearly 80 albums sixteen have been nominated for Grammy-Awards and two have won this prestigious prize.
The EPCC was recognized by the BBC's Classical Music magazine as one of the top ten choirs in the world in 2020.
Editor: Kristina Kersa