The “Sounds of Estonia” weekend to take place in London

Pianist Kristjan Randalu, singer-songwriters Maarja Nuut and Mari Kalkun, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir will perform at the Kings Place music venue in Kings Cross, London, on Friday, 25 March, and Saturday, 26 March, as part of the special weekend dedicated to Estonian music.

The Kings Place music and arts venue will host the artists as part of the special programme, “Sounds of Estonia”.

“Estonia’s identity is inextricably linked with its music: from the astonishing Singing Revolution which led to its independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union, to its composers and musicians who have won world-wide fame, to its vibrant contemporary artists who draw on its deep well-springs of folk music, here is a musical culture of unusual richness and impact,” the organisers of the programme said, adding they were “thrilled to welcome some of Estonia’s most revered and distinctive artists.”

In addition to concerts, there will also be a screening of a documentary about the Estonian Singing Revolution, followed by a panel discussion.

The programme:

Kristjan Randalu – Friday, 25 March, at 7pm

Kristjan Randalu playing for his album “Absence”, released by ECM Records.

Jazz pianist Kristjan Randalu performs with a Sweden-based chamber orchestra, O/Modernt, playing the works by Estonian composers Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kõrvits and Erkki-Sven Tüür. At the heart of the concert is Randalu’s series of instrumental interpretations of the themes of well-known tales, embellished with the composer’s piano cadenzas.

Randalu is viewed as an esteemed interpreter of a broad spectrum of contemporary and classical music, performing alongside internationally acclaimed ensembles of the stature of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra on the one hand and esteemed conductors like Kristjan Järvi and Dennis Russell Davies on the other.

Maarja Nuut – Friday, 25 March, at 9pm

Maarja Nuut. Photo by Anu Vahtra.

While combining vocal work with modular synthesizers, Maarja Nuut’s music is a blend of contemporary experimental sounds and influences from Estonian folk traditions. Since 2016, she has toured in over 50 countries around the world and found many culturally influential fans along the way. “That’s what it sounds like when the snow sings,” Simon Le Bon, the lead singer and lyricist of the band, Duran Duran, once remarked on Twitter about Nuut.

Restlessly creative, Nuut has always been interested in storytelling and what the past can tell us about the future; for her, myths provide connection points to the modern world and societal upheaval. Her third solo album, “Hinged” (“Souls”), was released in August 2021.

“A feast” by Maarja Nuut.

“The Singing Revolution” film screening – Saturday, 26 March, at 3:30pm

“The Singing Revolution” trailer.

A screening of James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty’s documentary, “The Singing Revolution”, an inspiring account of Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union.

Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolution. But song was the weapon of choice when Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. “The Singing Revolution” is an inspiring account of one nation’s dramatic rebirth. It is the story of humankind’s irrepressible drive for freedom and self-determination.

“The Singing Revolution” shares how, between 1987 and 1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered publicly to sing forbidden patriotic songs and share protest speeches, risking their lives to proclaim their desire for independence. The revolutionary songs of the Estonians anchored their struggle for freedom, which was ultimately accomplished without the loss of a single life.

Mari Kalkun – Saturday, 26 March, at 6pm

Mari Kalkun “Elukoor” (“Choir of Life”)

Mari Kalkun is one of the best known Estonian folk music singer-songwriters. She relies on her southern Estonian roots, singing in Võro dialect. Her songs are inspired by nature, Estonian poetry and folk music. Hers is an intimate music – and yet there is renewal, hope and celebration to be heard. 

For making music and accompanying herself, Kalkun uses the kannel, the piano, the accordion and the guitar, but sometimes also pipes, whistles and various experimental instruments. In 2018, the Guardian included her third album “Ilmamõtsan” among the ten best “world music” albums of 2018.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – Saturday, 26 March, at 7:30pm

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas.

In its 40th anniversary season, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, under conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, presents an evening of sacred and secular music by four of the nation’s composers – Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Cyrillus Kreek and Toivo Tulev.

Records of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir have previously 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. In 2020, the choir was named by the BBC Music Magazine as one of the ten best choirs in the world.

Kings Place is at 90 York Way, London N1 9AG.

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