The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC) is one of the best-known Estonian music ensembles in the world. The choir was founded in 1981 by Tõnu Kaljuste, who was its artistic director and chief conductor for twenty years. In the years 2001–2007, the English musician Paul Hillier took over. Daniel Reuss collaborated with the choir as its chief conductor in 2008–2013 and Kaspars Putniņš in 2014–2021. Since the season 2021/2022 the artistic director and chief conductor is again Tõnu Kaljuste.
The repertoire of the choir extends from Gregorian chant and baroque to the music of the 21st century, with a special focus on the work of Estonian composers, such as Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigorjeva, Toivo Tulev, Tõnu Kõrvits and introducing their output to the world. Each season the choir gives about 60–70 concerts both in Estonia and abroad.
The EPCC has cooperated with a number of outstanding conductors and orchestras including Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Eric Ericson, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Roland Böer, Frieder Bernius, Stephen Layton, Peter Phillips, Marc Minkowski, Christoph Poppen, Sir Colin Davis, Louis Langree, Paul McCreesh, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Gustavo Dudamel, Richard Tognetti etc.
The EPCC has also worked with the following world-class orchestras such as the Norwegian, Australian, Prague and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, the Salzburg Camerata, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Korean Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.
The EPCC has been a welcome guest at numerous music festivals and outstanding venues all over the world, for instance at the BBC Proms, the Mozartwoche, the Abu Gosh Music Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Musikfest Bremen, the Salzburg Festspiele, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the International Cervantino Festival, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Sydney Opera House, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Barbican Centre in London, the Flagey Concert Hall in Brussels, the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore, the Soul Arts Center, the Hong Kong City Hall, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles etc.
Another important aspect in the choir’s life is recording music for ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi, Ondine, resulting in award-winning CDs. The EPCC recordings have won twice GRAMMY-Award for Best Choral Performance: for the album Arvo Pärt. Da Pacem with conductor Paul Hillier (Harmonia Mundi, 2007) and Arvo Pärt. Adam’s Lament with conductor Tõnu Kaljuste (ECM, 2014). All in all, the choir has 16 Grammy nominations with the works by Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and the music of Nordic countries. In 2018 the album with works by Schnittke and Pärt (BIS), conducted by Kaspars Putniņš, won Gramophone Award. The EPCC recordings have also won the Diapason d’Or, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik etc. In 2020 BBC Music Magazine named the EPCC as one of the 10 best choirs in the world.