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Music written by Estonian composers has found admirers all over the world. Since 1979, Estonian Composers’ Union has organised the festival Estonian Music Days (EMD), the visiting card of contemporary Estonian music. An excessive amount of new commissions each year has made it the most established festival focusing on Estonian contemporary music.

Artistic directors of the festival are internationally renowned Estonian composers Helena Tulve and Timo Steiner. Helena Tulve explains the nature of the festival: “The festival’s programme gives an overview of the current state of Estonian music. The entire festival is a surprise. As most pieces have been written especially for the festival, then we don’t know what to expect and the best idea is to be open for the unexpected.”

Back in 1979, Eino Tamberg, legendary Estonian composer said about the first festival to the journalists:
“In my opinion, the festival serves two objectives. Firstly, we wish to give an overview about Estonian music for our audience and guests. Their participation certainly contributes in distributing our music in case they find some of it interesting. Secondly, when we have listened to our music in so numerous performances, it helps ourselves to shape a better overview, what kind of positive sides our oeuvre has and where we have gaps. It is nice that the festival has also included music from previous periods, for example top works that have been performed undeservedly seldom. /-/ In the same time, these works can be considered as comparison material for evaluating the contemporary music. Planning the festival so extensively shows that we probably do have something to share in that kind of capacity.”

The festival is enriched by a unique initiation – the mini EMD, which is organised by highschoolers all across Estonia. The event is remarkable in Europe, because it is the first known contemporary music festival organised entirely by young people, who have passed through all stages of organising the festival with the help of mentors.

“Mini EMD differs significantly from ordinary youth events, because young people reach new music from the back door, by organising it themselves and by communicating directly with musicians and organisers. EMD gives the chance to approach music from outside the borders. This way young people will also find themselves in a new environment where they wouldn’t be able to get to within a school lesson, and discover a fascinating world,” explains artistic director, composer Timo Steiner.

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