Bringing out the 21st century's classical side

  • 2005-10-19
  • By TBT staff
TALLINN -Classical music is not dead. Mozart, Bartok, Handel, Part, their names may still dominate the shelves of CD stores, but there's an entire new generation of European composers out there, very much alive. And this is just what the International New Music Festival (NYYD) is celebrating.

In 1991, along side the resurrection of Estonia's independence, a group of the country's music elite developed a mission: to create an active contact between Estonian music life and the world's cutting edge new music. And out of this mission the NYYD was born.

Collaborating the work of contemporary composers in as many ways as possible, the festival has become known for its synthesis of varying styles. The composers are free to experiment with tensions between tonality and atonality, serialism and new simplicity, rock, jazz and nearly everything in between.

This year's event, run under the creative guidance of composer Erkki-Sven Tuur, conductor Olari Elts, and pianist Madis Kolk, who is also director of the festival, may be the most prestigious yet. Among performers will be the Kronos Quartet, Les Temps Modernes, Gothenburg Combo, and Singer Pur.

The Kronos Quartet, with violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and Jeffrey Zeigler on cello, is one of the most celebrated ensembles today, having released more than 40 recordings in 30 years. The American ensemble's work has also earned numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and "Musicians of the Year" (2003).

Just as fresh is the Gothenburg Combo, whose unorthodox approach to classical tradition has earned them a reputation with audiences and critics alike. The group is especially known for their live-performances, which combine extreme virtuosity with deep emotion, humour and zest. And their musical ideology is in perfect harmony with NYYD: that the classics have to be reconstructed and reinvented with each new decade.

These are but a few of the world-class ensembles on this year's programme. Feature composers Tristan Murail and Brett Dean will also have music lovers lining up for tickets.

But the NYYD is not without Estonian flavor. The Estonian National Opera, the Nargen Opera, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and the Reval Ensemble will represent the country with pride.

The Eesti Kontsert State Concert Institute is the magician behind this international event, the largest of its kind in the Batlic staes. In its 14-year history, the festival has introduced more than 100 new works by Estonian composers, among them a number of chamber operas and multi-media concerts. And the NYYD stage has been the starting point for guest soloists and ensembles from across the world, some of whom return years later with their new fame in tow.

The Festival's main stage is the Old Town's beautiful Estonia Concert Hall. In addition to concerts, the program includes master classes, seminars, sound installations and exhibitions.