Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir Australia tour peaked, on April 7th, at Sydney Opera House, with gala concert The Composers: Arvo Pärt, A Sacred Journey. The two-hour programme included Arvo Pärt’s pearls Magnificat, Spiegel im Spiegel, 7 Magnificat Antiphons, Tabula Rasa, Fratres, Salve Regina, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, and Adam’s Lament.
The nearly 2,700 seat concert hall practically sold out, warm reception was prophesied by people clapping before choirmaster Tõnu Kaljuste ever took his stand before the singers.
The Sydney Opera House organizer Yarmila Alfonzetti confessed to being a great fan of the choir. «We have so much to learn from them, especially the professional approach, the dedication,» she said. «Talking about today’s concert… Arvo Pärt is one crazy composer, but I love him.»
At the gala concert, Mr Pärt’s music was also played by Sydney symphonic orchestra’s musicians. The day before featured a concert prepared over a week’s time in workshops, Estonian composers’ pieces performed by the Sydney youth orchestra. «It was great fun teaching these young ones, equipping them with keys to interpret Arvo Pärt’s music. The roots of his music, and the way he has trained people to listen to silence, texts carrying the wisdom of the centuries – that’s what has conquered the world. As a conductor, it is always good for me to know that I’m spreading the art of a man I share time and space with,» said Tõnu Kaljuste.
As the gala concert came to Tabula Rasa, the Sydney audience failed to hold itself in check, disrupting a pause with thunderous ovations. Mr Kaljuste managed to quieten the people, and to continue. «This is just such a brilliant work,» he commented afterwards. Shouts of «Bravo!», thereafter, came wave after wave after each piece of music, the final ovation resembling a rock concert with fans demanding more. According to Ms Alfonzetti, this is no ordinary thing: «Those attending, at that moment, desired to be no place else. It was magical. They love and honour the music, the choir.»
Estonia’s consul general in Australia Triinu Rajasalu was equally emotional at the reception following the concert: «It’s a rare thing that, at a concert, music transports you into a world of its own… How tremendous the feeling, an Estonian choir at the world’s most famous opera house, conducted by an Estonian, performing works by an Estonian composer.»