The treasury of Estonian music

  • 2010-10-06
  • By Ella Karapetyan

FESTIVAL CAPITAL: Going back to its roots, the Tartu Early Music Festival will focus on European medieval sounds.

TARTU - Referred to by many as the spiritual capital of Estonia, Tartu is the country’s second-biggest city, after only the capital Tallinn. It is also considered to be the center of southern Estonia. In contrast to Estonia’s political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub of the country, especially since it is home to Estonia’s oldest and most renowned university. The time-honored university, museum-rich and Hanseatic city of Tartu lies on the banks of the River Emajogi.

Tartu is a well-known tourist destination. Since regaining independence this place has become an ideal tourist gateway. This is an important town, as most of the centers of education are located here. With the student community forming a major part of the population, nightlife in Tartu is exciting.

There is an extraordinary selection of festivals to be found in Tartu, which are extremely diverse and range from sporting events in the cold winter months, to open-air concerts in the summer. With so many things to do in Tartu, regardless of the time of year, make sure that you don’t miss out on one of the biggest of the city’s festivals.

The Tartu Early Music Festival was born in 1996. Focusing mainly on European medieval music, the Festival has been since its beginning related to Oriental cultures. The center of interest hasn’t been only Oriental culture, but in correlation with European early, primarily medieval culture, when Europe got by far the biggest influence from the Arabic culture. But we can make even further connections, and there definitely is a lot more to explore and find.

The festival is an interdisciplinary event with concerts, performances, exhibitions, lectures and master classes. The aim of the festival is to create an artistic integral, where all the events are closely related to each other. This has given a chance for many spontaneous co-projects to spring up along the years, as they will in the future. From the beginning the festival has collaborated not only with Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland, but also with other important musical centers and ensembles in Europe and Asia. The festival, being held in different historical halls of Tartu, has become a musical event for the whole city. 

Estonian Music Festivals has been a member of the European Festivals Association (EFA) from the autumn 2002. This year it is not an exception that Estonian Music Festivals organizes the Tartu Early Music Festival, which has already become a tradition in the city; this year the festival takes place for the 15th time.
“The goal of the Estonian Music Festivals is to unite the music festivals in Estonia and achieve a high artistic level, stand for the member festivals’ interests in the politics of culture, coordinate the festival calendar, collect and spread festival information in Estonia as well as abroad and support the cooperation of festivals and co-productions,” says Jaan-Eik Tulve, the chairman of the board of Estonian Music Festivals.

“The fast budding of music festivals is distinguished proof of the dynamic development of the cultural life in independent Estonia. A playground for free artistic production and surprises, festivals play an important role in carrying the national cultural values and introducing foreign cultures, combining different forms of art, and realizing special projects that don’t find a place in regular music life. The mission of such festivals all over the world is also enlivening the cultural and economical life of smaller centers and contributing to the development of tourism. This is what the Estonian festivals strive for,” Tulve continues.

According to the organizers of the festival, Tartu Early Music Festival is one of the most popular and the most favorite one in Tartu, as well as in Estonia. They say that this year the festival will reach new heights and guarantee a good mood and unforgettable days to all their visitors, from Oct. 7 – 10, when the festival is being held.