I am honoured and delighted to be awarded the Estonian Cultural Prize; and
I am only sorry that I am unable to attend the ceremony in person. My interest
in Estonian music began more than twenty years ago when I first encountered
the works of Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis. As some of you may know, I become
very active as a performer of Pärt’s music and also produced a double-CD of
Tormis’ “Forgotten Peoples”, sung by the EPCC. More recently,
since becoming conductor of the EPCC, I have enjoyed the opportunity of getting
to know the work of many more Estonian composers – and it continues to
astonish me how a country the size of Estonia can produce so many outstanding
ones. This does not happen by chance, and as Estonia becomes part of the
European Union, I hope it will safeguard the unique wealth of its musical heritage.
Above all, I want to share the recognition which this prize bestows with the
singers and staff of EPCC. Our work together has only just begun and there
are many projects and plans which I am looking foward to bringing to fruition –
performing new works by younger composers, and rediscovering the works of
older ones, including for example more of the marvelleous choral music of
Cyrillus Kreek. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with the EPCC, one of the
finest musical ensembles in the world, and this prize is theirs too.
Paul Hillier