Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC) is one of the best-known Estonian music ensembles in the world. The EPCC was founded in 1981 by Tõnu Kaljuste, who was the artistic director and chief conductor for twenty years. In the years 2001–2007, the English musician Paul Hillier took over and between the years 2008–2013 the artistic director and chief conductor was Daniel Reuss. Since 2014 Kaspars Putniņš has been the artistic director and chief conductor of the choir.
The repertoire of the choir extends from Gregorian chant and baroque to the music of the 21st century, with a special focus on the work of Estonian composers, such as Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigoryeva, Toivo Tulev, Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, and introducing their output to the world. Each season the choir gives about 60–70 concerts both in Estonia and abroad.
The EPCC has cooperated with a number of outstanding conductors including Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Eric Ericson, Ward Swingle, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Nikolai Alekseyev, Olari Elts, Gregory Rose, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Böer, Frieder Bernius, Stephen Layton, Marc Minkowski, Christoph Poppen, Sir Colin Davis, Michael Riesman, Louis Langree, Paul McCreesh, Gottfried von der Goltz, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Anu Tali, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Peter Phillips, Gustavo Dudamel etc.
The EPCC has also worked with the following world-class orchestras such as the Norwegian, Australian, Lithuanian, Prague and Stuttgardt Chamber Orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Palatino, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, the Salzburg Camerata, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the North Netherland Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.
The EPCC has been a welcome guest at numerous music festivals and outstanding venues all over the world including the BBC Proms, the Mozartwoche, the Abu Gosh Music Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Musikfest Bremen, the Salzburg Festspiele, Mozartwoche, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the International Cervantino Festival, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, the Bergen International Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Sydney Opera House, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Versailles Opéra Royal, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, LSO St Luke’s and Barbina Centre in London, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Flagey in Brussels, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, the Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles etc.
Another important aspect in the choir’s life is recording music (for ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi and Ondine), resulting in various award-winning CDs. The EPCC recordings have twice won a Grammy-Award for Best Choral Performance: in 2007 for the album of Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem (Harmonia Mundi) with conductor Paul Hillier and Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament (ECM) with conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. All in all, the choir has 15 Grammy nominations with works by Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and the music from the Nordic countries. In 2018 the recording „Schnittke – Psalms of Repentance. Pärt – Magnificat & Nunc dimittis” (BIS), conducted by Kaspars Putniņš, won Gramophone Award. The EPCC recordings have also won the award Diapason d’Or, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Danish Music Award, de Choc de l’Année Classica 2014, and more. In 2020 BBC Music Magazine has named EPCC as one of the 10 best choirs in the world.
Kaspars Putniņš started as an artistic director and chief conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in September 2014. He has been the conductor of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992. In 1994, he formed the Latvian Radio Chamber Singers, an ensemble of soloists formed from the members of Latvian Radio Choir. He regularly appears as a guest conductor with leading European choirs such as the BBC Singers, RIAS Kammerchor, Berliner Rundfunkchor, NDR Kammerchor, Netherlands Radio Choir, Collegium Vocale Gent, Flamish Radio Choir and others.
Whilst Kaspars Putniņš work encompasses a wide range of choral repertoire from Renaissance polyphony to works of the Romantic period, his foremost goal has always been that of promoting new outstanding choral music. This new repertoire challenges and develops the abilities of his performers and takes their vocal sound to entirely uncharted territories.
His discography includes recordings of Peteris Vasks’ Mate Saule for BIS Records, Jonathan Harvey’s The Angels for Hyperion, works by Bryars, Vasks, Esenvalds, Maskats and Silvestrov, all with the Latvian Radio Choir. He has also recorded Rachmaninov’s The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with the Flemish Radio Choir for Glossa, etc. In 2018 the CD recorded with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir Schnittke – Psalms of Repentance. Pärt – Magnificat & Nunc dimittis (BIS) won Gramophone Award.
Kaspars Putniņš has also initiated several theatrical projects, which involve the participation of his choir, in collaboration with visual and theatre artists. He often lectures and gives master classes internationally.
Kaspars Putniņš is the recipient of the Latvian Music Grand Prix (1998), the Latvian Council of Ministers Award for Achievements in Culture and Science (2000) and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 4th Class, by the Estonian President (2019). He has been given the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for the devoted activity in the music life of Estonia (2019).