President Kersti Kaljulaid, the first President of the Republic of Estonia to herself perform in the Song and Dance Festival, addressed the crowd at the first concert of the XXVII Song Festival on Saturday evening, stressing that it is song that makes Estonians free. ERR News has reproduced the president's speech in full.
Dear people of Estonia,
Our first Song Festival took place 150 years ago. Had the Tsarist powers at the time known what the festival would do to the Estonian people, it is unlikely that it would ever have been allowed to take place. Song brings Estonians joy. Song gives Estonians courage. Song makes Estonians free.
Even when we largely only hummed along with our mouths closed, then the Song and Dance Festivals still made us feel a bit more Estonian. We were all thinking the same when we sang — there was happiness, there was joy, there was laughter, there was tears.
True, the festivals held under Soviet occupation were scarred with foreign songs. But we also sang "Koit" and "Isamaa." We danced the Viru Waltz, and the sun sank below the horizon. We understood without saying a word. And we survived. May it sing with us here today, our past, and of course our present and our future as well!
The future of the Song Festivals, incidentally, fidgets here before us in the front rows of the stage. Where they tread, the earth trembles — just as our tireless dance teachers would have it, pressure step at the floor. This is the smile-dimpled world of little Estonians today.
They are already singing about the land they love. They are also singing about the fact that happiness only comes to you when you grab it by the tail. These are the songs of Estonians: a glimmer of hope in every moment of sadness and a note of caution on even the happiest of days.
It is time to sing. Stand with us. Sing with us with courage! Our conductors are your conductors, and this weekend the power is entirely in their hands.
Kaljulaid is performing in the XXVII Dance Festival as a member of her sorority korp! Filiae Patriae's choir.
Estonia celebrating double jubilee
The XXVII Song and XX Dance Festival "My Fatherland is My Love" ("Minu Arm" in Estonian) began on Thursday, July 4 and will run through Sunday, July 7.
Click here for information regarding the schedule, tickets and more.
Don't have tickets or can't make it to Tallinn, or even Estonia? Click here for more information regarding ERR broadcasts of several performances of the Song and Dance Festival.
Editor: Aili Vahtla