Conductor Aarne Saluveer: A very talented and wise generation is growing up

Aarne Saluveer.
Aarne Saluveer. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

In an interview with ERR, Aarne Saluveer, chief conductor of the Estonian TV Girls' Choir, said that a very talented and wise generation is growing up, which is bound to write new chapters in Estonia's cultural history.

How did you become interested in music and what influences your work today?

Parents and the involvement of parents play a crucial role in the development of children. I was taken to choir concerts as a small child. In 1969, few children from outside of Tallinn could participate in the song celebration, but because both of my parents were taking part in it, they brought me along, and I courageously made it to the end.

It was at Viljandi Music School that I begun my musical education. In the 1970s, this music school was already highly innovative, and because we had an ensemble at the cultural center, we received an excellent education there.

Even though I was enrolled in a special math and physics class, my passion for music was so strong that I was able to pass my exams at the Tallinn State Conservatoire, now the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, following the footsteps of friends and with the support of good teachers.

I am inspired in my everyday work by the continual development of spirituality and wisdom in all aspects of society, as well as the profound influence of music on the human psyche. In light of the impending "Holy is the Land" Song and Dance Festival, I am especially inspired by the creative process itself as well as the festival's impact on all participants and audiences.

As choir director, what memories or experiences from previous song and dance festivals will you bring to this year's festival?

I recall the first time I performed in a large arena with a large choir. The festival's artistic director at the time, René Eespere, selected one of my children's compositions, "Let's go, children" ("Lähme, lapsed") for the children's repertoire in 1993, the first year of the Youth Song and Dance Festival in re-independent Estonia. The song was quite dynamic and thrilling and the children seemed to enjoyed singing it at the top of their lungs; it was clear they were having fun.

Those who have participated in song festivals understand what a wonderful emotion it is when all the voices and minds reverberate in unison. At that juncture, every singer brings the Estonian language in the songs to life.

How does the repertoire of the Girls' Choir relate to the overall theme of the festival "Holy is the Land"?

When putting together the repertoire, we chose songs that suit the festival's theme, "Holy is the Land," and form a beautiful musical whole. The selected compositions help the child vocalist to develop spirituality and human values such as joy of life and concern for one's home, land, fellow citizens and future generations.

What challenges do you think the repertoire presents for participants?

A song festival is an incredible platform for expressing and realizing social spirituality. At least twice throughout history, the Song Festival has played a significant role in our rise toward independence and self-expression. This did not occur by coincidence, but as a result of an enormous communal, inter-generational and planned effort.

The most difficult challenge involves embracing these rare and revered texts. It is essential that the values contained within them become a part of one's own life and are passed down to one's descendants.

How do you think collectives have survived the pandemic so far?

There was no effect. Singing is a highly physical activity, and similar to sports, if you don't practice, you lose ground rather than maintain your current level. However, an intelligent person acknowledges what happened and takes action; this is how you revert to your previous level and keep growing.

Is the tradition of the youth festival, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, strong enough to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 40 years' time?

It all depends on our character, on our drive to retain our culture and remain distinctive. During unsettling times, our forefathers struggled tirelessly to achieve these results.

On the basis of the preliminary rehearsals, I can say that an exceptionally talented and wise generation is growing up, which, I believe, will find ways to preserve and keep writing new chapters in the Estonian-speaking and Estonian-minded cultural sphere despite all the obstacles.


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Editor: Karmen Rebane, Kristina Kersa

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