Estonian Music Days

Tallinn / Tartu
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Sat, April 23 2022
The Bright Future Ensemble

Arvo Pärt Centre
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Tickets: 20/15€

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Anna-Liisa Eller (kannel, Estonia)
Taavi Kerikmäe (synthesizers, electronics, theremin, Estonia)
Dan Laurin (recorders, Sweden / Estonia)
Anna Paradiso (harpsichord, Sweden / Italy)

Anonymus ca 1340Trotto

From Codex Faenza (ca 1300)Constantia

Britta Byström (b. 1977) – Off on a comet (2021, premiere)

David Kellner (1670–1748) – Ciaconne (from Austerlesene Lauten-Stücke, Hamburg, 1747)

Helena Tulve (b. 1972) – Was it Light? (2019, premiere)


Off on a comet is a piece inspired by a science fiction novel by Jules Verne (in french Hector Servadac, 1877). It tells the fantastic story of how a comet in its flight touches the Earth and collects a small part of it. On the territory that is carried away by the comet there remain 36 persons, but in my musical version of the story they are only four – the members of The Bright Future Ensemble. These four, detached from the music life on Earth, create a sound world of their own. My piece consists of eleven movements, played without break, and today we will listen to the first five of these: Poetry and Earthquake, Strange Changes, A Mysterious Sea, Venus in Perilous Proximity and finally Inquiries Unsatisfied. These inquiries are for example: Why is the alternation of day and night shortened to 6 hours? Why have East and West changed sides? What is that unknown planet on the sky, close to the moon? (It will prove to be the Earth.) Off on a comet is written for alto recorder, harpsichord, kannel and synthesizer/theremin. I have tried to capture the novel’s strange, adventurous and also humourous atmosphere: a music for four involuntary travellers through the Solar system.” (Britta Byström)

Helena Tulve: “Was It Light? (“Oli see valgus?”, 2019) was written for The Bright Future Ensemble, as I was lucky to witness the inception of this collective. In 2019, when I was composing this piece and before all the changes and dramatic events, there was already something restless and even menacing in the air – hence, this feeling and forebodings are woven into the fabric of the music as well. To balance it out, the piece is penetrated by an excerpt from Theodore Roethke’s visionary poem cycle The Lost Son:

Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?

A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.

The Bright Future Ensemble brings together sound colours that have never been combined like this before – harpsichord, kannel, recorder and analogue synthesisers. Instruments from long-lost traditions come to life in this modern dialogue. The idea for this ensemble was born a few years ago due to a chance meeting of the musicians at a music festival in Båstad, Sweden. The excellent mutual chemistry and a similar sense of humour quickly inspired a wish to collaborate. They commissioned Helena Tulve, the resident composer of that year’s festival, to write a new piece, and thus, the new ensemble was born. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not yet had an opportunity to perform and to our great delight they will debut at the Estonian Music Days. Alongside the world premiere of Tulve’s piece, the ensemble will also present a new composition by Swedish composer Britta Byström and arrangements of early music.

The project is supported by Konstnärsnämnden, Musikverket (Sweden) and Estonian Ministry of Culture.
Live-broadcast by EMP TV.