Estonian Music Days

Tallinn / Tartu
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Wed, April 20 2022
University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra in Tallinn

Tallinn Methodist Church
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Tickets: 15/10€

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Tartu University Symphony Orchestra
Anna-Liisa Eller (Estonian chromatic kannel)
Theodor Sink (cello)
Conductor Taavi Kull

Kristjan Kõrver (b. 1976) – Supra petram (2022, premiere)

Märt-Matis Lill (b. 1975) – Preludes for orchestra I–VI (2022, premiere)

Lauri Jõeleht (b. 1974) – Concerto for Kannel Morning Star I–II (2021)

Maria Kõrvits (b. 1987) – Lace (2022, premiere)

Galina Grigorjeva (b. 1962) – Prayer (2005)


Supra Petram (‘onto the cliff’; ‘to the rock’ in Latin) for symphony orchestra (2022, premiere). “This composition has a long backstory. Initially, I wanted to write it in the middle of the 1990s when I was still studying at the Georg Ots Music School but I failed. I had the idea and the ambition but I didn’t have the support of a compositional technique that I cannot cope without. From the initial material I only preserved an abstract frame that I have carried with me for decades. At one point, I discovered that this frame resembles the familiar formulas of the psalms I know from Gregorian chant. Thus, for this composition, I have drawn on the structure of these psalmodic formulas. I use this as the rock on which to rest the pitch structure of my composition. Within this system, I have tried to operate so as to make them sound as traditional as possible yet at the same time inexplicably fresh.

Let it be said that my first contact with Gregorian chant also took place at the Georg Ots Music School. This rock was right underneath my nose, and yet I was unable to value it at the time.” (Kristjan Kõrver)

Preludes for orchestra I–VI (2022, premiere). “I wrote these orchestral preludes based on the common principle of writing prelude cycles and similar pieces – every prelude proceeds from a specific musical image that serves as an inspiration and catalyst for it.” (Märt-Matis Lill)

Concerto for Kannel Morning Star I–II (2021). “The chromatic kannel is a very interesting instrument that has fascinated me for decades. I have composed various works for kannel with different instrumentations. I composed this concerto for Anna-Liisa Eller whose mesmerising interpretation enchants you whether it be early or contemporary music.

In spring, just before dawn one can spot the Morning Star in the lower part of the eastern sky. It is a very bright star that indicates that the night is almost over and that a new day is drawing near. However, symbolically, it is also a guiding light. In Christian tradition, Virgin Mary has been called the Morning Star as she is showing us the way by her own example. I believe that sometimes everyone must take a time-out to think about where they are heading. At the beginning of the concerto’s second movement, I tried to convey the early morning peace that envelopes nature before sunrise – this should offer an opportunity to step out of one’s daily routine and take time for reflection. However, the 2nd movement on the whole is not reflective or peaceful, as one must take action after finding their way.” (Lauri Jõeleht)

The premiere of the composition took place in September 2021 at the International Kannel Festival at the Tubin Hall of the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu. It was performed by Anna-Liisa Eller (kannel) and the University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Taavi Kull.

Lace (2022, premiere). “The word ‘lace’ has several meanings: ‘lace’ as in ‘a delicate fabric in an open weblike pattern’, ‘a cord or leather strip to fasten shoes or garments’, ‘fasten one’s shoelaces’. Composing a piece is somewhat similar to making lace or fabric. From one fine thread, you can weave a whole new textile. The thread may become entangled but you need to detangle it and start all over again. In many cultures, the art of weaving is related to the divine world – it is divine by origin. Small mistakes are woven into the fabric to remind us of the imperfection of all life.” (Maria Kõrvits)

Prayer (Molitva) was written for the David Oistrakh festival held in Pärnu in 2005 and the original version was written for alto saxophone and organ. Thereafter, new arrangements were written for different instrumental combinations. Victor Hugo wrote the following in his novel Toilers of the Sea: “Prayer, that mighty force of the soul, an incomprehensible force. Prayer addresses itself to the magnanimity of the Shades; prayer regards mystery with eyes themselves overshadowed by it, and beneath the power of its fixed and appealing gaze, we feel the possibility of the great Unknown unbending to reply.” Orthodoxy holds the position that prayer can be both verbal as well as ‘soulful.’ We generally give our preferences externally. In Orthodoxy, laudatory prayer is paramount, and a eulogy to God sounds like this at the end when the following words are said: “And let Your name be blessed.”” (Galina Grigorjeva)

The University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra is a newcomer at the Estonian Music Days. The orchestra’s repertoire includes classical compositions, film music and new pieces written specifically for the University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra. Under the helm of Taavi Kull from the Vanemuine Theatre, they participate in exciting projects every year. At this festival they will perform five contemporary compositions, three of which are premieres and have been composed for the University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra. One of the soloists is Anna-Liisa Eller on a rather rare instrument in our musical environment – the chromatic kannel. In her performances, she has offered exciting combinations of contemporary and earlier music. The audience will also hear Theodor Sink, 1st cello of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, who has also excelled as a performer of contemporary music. Both young musicians recently received the Annual Music Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment for their outstanding and exciting work.

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