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.
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.
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir participating in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata” at the Aix-en-Provence festival in France in 2011. Photo by Pascal Victor/ArtComArt.Tõnu Kaljuste (in the middle) receiving the Grammy award, handed over by the US ambassador in Estonia, Jeff Levine. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir won the Grammy award for the recording of “Arvo Pärt. Adam’s Lament” (ECM). Photo by Mari Kaljuste.Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kaljuste and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 2014. Photo by Eleri Ever.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performing at the St Ignatius Loyola Church in New York, 2017. Photo by Esper Linnamägi.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performing at the Berwald Hall in Stockholm in 2018. Photo by Anneli Ivaste.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber choir in Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La bohème”, performed at the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn, 2018.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performing at the City Recital Hall in Sydney in 2019. Photo by Maria Boyadgis.Kaspars Putniņš, the former chief conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, in 2020. Photo by Anneli Ivaste.Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. Photo by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performing at Kings Place in London in March 2022. Photo by Kings Place.The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performing at Kings Place in London in March 2022. Photo by Kings Place.
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.
Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at email@example.com.