Estonian culture in the world

Pianist Mihkel Poll wins The Guildhall Wigmore Recital Prize (Video)

The Guildhall Wigmore Recital Prize annually awards a talented Guildhall School musician with a Wigmore Hall recital. Young and talented Estonian pianist Mihkel Poll was the recipient of this year’s award, and his winner’s recital became a special occasion.

London’s Wigmore Hall is a leading international recital venue that specialises in hosting performances of chamber music and is best known for classical recitals of piano, song and instrumental music. With near perfect acoustics, the Hall became quickly celebrated across Europe, acquiring almost legendary attraction for the greatest artists of the 20th century, such as Sergei Prokofiev and Benjamin Britten.

Photography by Kaupo Kikkas

25-year-old Estonian pianist delivered an ambitious and mesmerising programme with works by Ligeti, Bartók, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev – some of which are not necessarily box-office favourites. Stylishly dressed in black and full of determination, Poll pulled his performance off with a dedicated focus and commitment and ensured again that he is a musician to watch and follow.

Maestro Arvo Part has commented about Mihkel Poll: “Mihkel PolI is an interesting and original musician with superb technical skills, who is able to perform the most complex pieces with artistic supremacy and musical freedom.”

Chef Andrey Lesment runs the first Estonian-owned restaurant in London, UK

Andrey, who started his career in Sweden and Denmark, has been London based for the past 15 years. He has honed his skills at the Savoy Hotel, as well as working for Gordon Ramsay at Maze in the past. Having had a clear destination in mind, he worked towards his goal of opening up his own restaurant and managed this at the beginning of 2011. Verru, as his elegant 26-seat restaurant is called, is situated in the affluent area of Marylebone. Lesment’s menu reflects his background and influences from the Baltic and Scandinavian cuisine, yet he claims to have learned most of his cooking skills at the French influenced top restaurants of London. “The Estonian influence is in the nuances, mostly in the pure and organic ingredients”, says Andrey.

His cooking book of fusion Scandinavian-Estonian-French recipes is apparently also on the agenda.


Brian Eno impressed by the performance of Estonian TV girls’ choir (Video)

Estonian TV girls’ choir recently performed at the Camden Roundhouse in London, where they shared the bill with Grammy winner Imogen Heap and the rising star Ana Silvera. Present among the audience was one of the most successful producers (produced for U2, Coldplay, David Bowie) in the world, the father of ambient music Brian Eno, who kindly found some time to answer few questions for us.

Brian Eno, what impression did the concert leave you?

Estonian Girls’ Choir made me shiver, their performance of Veljo Tormis’ compositions was just stunning, I want to visit Estonia as soon as tomorrow!

Have you previously heard any Estonian Music?

Of course I know Arvo Pärt, but I haven’t listened any choral music from Estonia before. The way your girls’ choir sang and at the same time dancing along in a folklore tradition, was just so beautiful and wonderful. Oh my god!

Did you somehow feel any connection with your own music when you observed the concert?

Well, I have my own a capella group that meets once a week, but it’s still in the development stage. But yes, I’m currently fascinated by choral music and the medium it represents.

What is your view of the cultural meaning of the Estonian Girls’ Choir performing here in London, and sharing the stage with British stars Imogen Heap and Ana Silvera?

I think that the Estonian government would be wise to send these girls to perform all over the world, since most of their listeners would soon want to visit Estonia, at least I think so. I think that this is worth more than conventional ads! If you hear something so beautiful, it is working and people will want to visit your country. They feel that there is a truly vibrant and deep culture in Estonia!

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