An Estonian Choral Concert in NYC

The New York Estonian Mixed Choir performed May 1 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church (Photo by Al Brownell via Vaba Eesti Sõna)

The New York Estonian Mixed Choir performed May 1 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church (Photo by Al Brownell via Vaba Eesti Sõna)

Every several years, Estonia holds a joint concert in which as many as 30,000 singers come together to perform, evidence of how embedded the tradition of choral singing is in the Northern European country’s culture. On May 1, that tradition came to the Immanuel Lutheran Church on the Upper East Side in a concert performed by the New York Estonian Mixed Choir.

Haldun Rochester attended the choral event and wrote about the performances in a story for the New York-based Estonian publication Vaba Eesti Sõna. The concert included “both classical, but mostly Estonian music,” in particular the works of Rudolf Tobias, the “father of Estonian music” and his daughter Helen Tobias-Duesberg who was born in New York in 1919, moved to Estonia the following year and returned to the U.S. in 1951.

How little was I prepared then, to not only thoroughly enjoy the concert, but to be jolted to my musician’s critique ears and, finally, to be surprised by the emotion and intensity that grabbed me by the throat and brought me on the verge of tears…

Rochester goes on to say:

As I was listening to the Sermon on the Mount I thought of this little country of Estonia having been swallowed up by so many bigger countries throughout history. Yet singing and Song have preserved its national identity more than swords and armies ever could.

Read the full piece – in which Rochester tells more about the music performed in the concert and other details – at Vaba Eesti Sõna.

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