Pictures: The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir through the years

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, named by the BBC Music Magazine as one of the ten best choirs in the world, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022; Estonian World publishes some of the rarest photos taken of the choir over the years.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir was founded in 1981 by conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, who went on to be the artistic director and chief conductor for twenty years – he returned to the same position in 2021, while in the intermediate years, the chief conductors were Paul Hillier, Daniel Reuss and Kaspars Putniņš.

Tõnu Kaljuste, a conductor and the founder of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, in 1975. Photo by Tõnu Tormis.

The repertoire of the choir extends from the Gregorian chant and baroque to the music of the 21st century, with a special focus on the work of Estonian composers, such as Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigoryeva, Toivo Tulev, Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, and introducing their output to the world. Each season the choir gives about 60–70 concerts both in Estonia and abroad – thus being probably the best-known Estonian choir internationally.

In addition of its chief conductors, the choir has cooperated with several conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Eric Ericson, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Gregory Rose, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Böer, Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel and others.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir has also worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other international orchestras.

The choir has performed at the BBC Proms, the Mozartwoche, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the Sydney Opera House, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Versailles Opéra Royal, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, the Flagey in Brussels, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, the Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and at many other global venues.

Records of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir have won the Grammy award twice – for “Arvo Pärt. Da Pacem” (Harmonia Mundi), recorded with Paul Hillier in 2007, and for “Arvo Pärt. Adam’s Lament” (ECM), with Tõnu Kaljuste in 2014. Over the years, the choir has released almost 80 recordings and has received 15 Grammy nominations in various categories.

In 2020, the choir was named by the BBC Music Magazine as one of the ten best choirs in the world.

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