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Estonian blues meets Mississippi – a new work by Kõrvits and Kareva

Kõrvits and Doris Kareva's rehearsal of
Kõrvits and Doris Kareva's rehearsal of "The Sound of Wings," conducted by Risto Joost. Source: Anneli Ivaste

Because there's nothing more powerful than a woman singing the blues.

Composer Tõnu Kõrvits and poet Doris Kareva have teamed up again for a joint project "Songs from the Spring of Pain" (Estonian: "Laulud valu allikalt.")

"The idea started after one of my many trips to Mississippi, I noticed a poster on the wall that said, 'Because there's nothing more powerful than a woman singing the blues!' I took a picture of it and the phrase has haunted me ever since," Kõrvits said.

"Doris and I had been thinking about a new [contemporary classical/poetry] cycle for a while, something intimate, like chamber music of a broken heart, a breakup, hope, and love," he said. "She wrote a beautiful text that immediately began to sing, and I just had to pen it down."

The 45-minute concert "Songs from the Spring of Pain" premiered by String Quartet M4GNET, Maria Valdmaa, soprano, and Jacob van Reuven, mandolin, on November 23 at the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn.

Here is the Klassikaraadio broadcast of the first performance (beginning at 02:50).

Kõrvits first gained international recognition for his use of Estonian folk songs and imagery in contemporary classical composition, while now his "Estonian blues" – as the composer described his own work – has become truly contemporary.

Kõrvits and Kareva previously collaborated on "The Sound of Wings" (Estonian: "Tiibade hääl"), a music composition accompanied by a poetry collection, inspired by Amelia Earhart's 1937 attempt to fly around the world, from which she never returned.

A fragment from the poem "One Love" that follows below is based on the last signal Earhart sent, which no one received.

One love, just like air or sky.
A score of swallows – whose swoop and soar
echoes in seven, seven, seven…

Three times the heart leaps: your role
is threefold resolve – in air, in peril,
in peace. Breathe: seven, seven, seven…

Doris Kareva, from "The Sound of Wings"

Here is the Klassikaraadio link to "The Sound of Wings" (beginning at 11:05).

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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