A NATION SINGS: In a uniquely Baltic mass sing-along, 80,000 people turned up for the Estonian Youth Song and Dance Celebration in Tallinn on July 1. Similar scenes can be expected further south as Lithuania will beputting on its own Song and Dance Celebration in Vilnius and Kaunas July 5 - 8. (See article page 7)
TALLINN - Estonia's proud tradition of song festivals is in no danger of dying out under the watch of future generations, if July 1's Youth Song and Dance Celebration is any indication.
An estimated 80,000 people filled Tallinn's Song Festival Ground for the major cultural event, which is held every four years.
Young people aged six to 25 showed they were eager to keep singing Estonia's stirring anthems, but insisted on a few twists from their own generation. Among the star vocalists was Chalice, a rap singer from Tartu, who won much applause for his spoken word interpretation of the song Minu Inimesed (My People).
Artistic Director Arne Saluveer said the event showed young people were injecting new vitality into the tradition of choral singing.
"The country and our way of thinking is becoming more free, in our music style too," Saluveer told The Baltic Times.
"This year there were 30 pieces which have never been performed at a song celebration before. There is a lot of new energy."
The event was followed around the nation on television and radio, with many cafes, bars and businesses broadcasting the songs for all to hear.
The festival ground itself was packed to near capacity. Some 42,000 people bought tickets to watch the event, while 35,000 young people performed on the large amphitheater. Several thousand staff and chaperones took the total attendance to above 80,000, a figure comparable with previous Youth Song and Dance Celebrations.
The event is not Estonia's major song festival, but a separate event for young people. The next national song festival for both adults and children is scheduled to take place in 2009.