Lepo Sumera Composition Prize goes to Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes

Composer Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes.
Composer Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes. Source: Mari Arnover

This year's winner of the Lepo Sumera Composition Prize, traditionally awarded at the Pärnu Music Festival, is composer Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes. The composer said it means she is considered a part of Estonian culture, which is very important to her.

Kozlova-Johannes told ERR that the recognition she received for her meant that she was part of Estonian culture: "It's a great honor for me, especially since this is a long-term achievement award. /.../ It is also a sign that Estonian society accepts and takes me to be a part of Estonian culture, which is very important to me."

She said that because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and her being of Russian descent, she has been attacked on social media.

"I've been asked to clarify my views on the war or to state unequivocally that I oppose it. Of course, I am against war. I do not believe that being a Russian-Estonian makes me a member of some group that should come together to voice their opinions. I feel like I belong among Estonians and that am no different from other Estonians, merely due to the fact that both of my parents were Russians. I think and speak Estonian and I want to be a part of this culture."

Kozlova-Johannes told Klassikaraadio's "Suveduur" program on Tuesday that Lepo Sumera's music has depth as well as a sense of humor, and that she has been introduced to classical music orchestration by the composer himself. "These lessons were incredibly inspirational," he said.

Shortly before Sumera's death, the premiere of his last symphony took place, where she was not able to attend due to falling ill. She could only listen to the performance on the radio. Sumera, who opened up about the composition of the symphony to his students, noticed her absence and was upset by it, Kozlova-Johannes said.

"Now, I understand that sharing a work-in-progress with your students is a highly intimate and personal experience. It is a big vote of confidence in the student, but I couldn't figure out at the time why he was so frustrated. If we don't listen to each other's music, he said, who will."

"This is something I try to instill in my students today because I believe this is very important," she said.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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