The Odessa Classics music festival takes place in Estonia

Estonia will from 31 May to 3 June host the 2022 Odessa Classics music festival that was originally due to take place in the namesake Ukrainian city in early June – but was postponed in the wake of the Russian war against Ukraine.

The annual Odessa Classics music festival has been held in the namesake Ukrainian city since 2015.

The classical music festival was founded by Ukrainian pianist Alexey Botvinov, who was born in Odessa. His mission was to create a festival that would help Ukraine move closer to Europe and resist Russian-initiated military aggression – as a year before, Russia had annexed the Crimean Peninsula, part of Ukraine, and stirred the separatist movement in Donbas region.

A concert organised in 2021 by the Odessa Classics in front of the Vorontsov Palace colonnade, Odessa, Ukraine. Photo by Odessa Classics.

Moved to Estonia

The eighth festival was due to take place from 2-15 June this year, but was postponed in the wake of the Russian war against Ukraine that started on 24 February. But the festival will happen, after all – in Estonia, albeit the programme will be shorter than the original schedule in Odessa.

“We took this decision with a heavy heart, but also with a great sense of gratitude to our Estonian colleagues, who have taken the initiative to make various venues in Estonia the temporary home of the festival during the last days of May and the first days of June,” Alexey Botvinov told Postimees, an Estonian newspaper.

“Our partners in Tallinn are the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, which was due to open this year’s festival in Odessa, and our long-time friend Meelis Kubits, head of the Cultural Partnership Foundation,” the pianist added.

Alexey Botvinov performing at the MustonenFest in Tallinn in early February 2022. Photo by Eesti Konsert.

Least that can be done

According to Meelis Kubits, hosting Odessa Classics in Tallinn is the “least that can be done in the current situation”. “The Odessa Classics festival has been well-known in Estonia since its inception in 2015, with dozens of our compatriots visiting this excellent festival and many renowned musicians performing,” Kubits told Postimees.

In Estonia, the festival will be called Odessa Classics Tallinn and it will take place over four days in four different venues in Tallinn, Tartu, and at the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa.

The concert hall of the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa, Estonia. Photo by Tõnu Tunnel.

Odessa is a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. It’s known for its beaches and 19th-century architecture, including the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre. So far, Odessa has been spared from the worst attacks, but Russian missiles have hit the historical city, also killing civilians.

Read also: Live updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – reactions in Estonia.

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