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The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Orchestra, a group of 30 singers and 15 instrumentalists, will make its Pennsylvania debut 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 9, at Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets for the concert cost $20 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

Schooled in the rich vocal traditions of the Baltic region, the choir and orchestra will perform works by J.S. Bach and Arvo Pärt. Bach is represented by his famous Easter cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden, and his joyous a cappella motet, Singet dem Herrn. The remainder of the program is devoted to the music of Pärt, an Estonian composer of deeply spiritual music. The program concludes with one of his most enduring works, Berlin Mass, created in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall and reunification of Germany—an occasion honored by Pärt in this fervent plea for peace and humanitarian trust. The works by J.S. Bach celebrate the worldwide observance of the 250th anniversary of this composer’s death in 1750, and the pairing of Bach’s music with Pärt’s underscores the deep spiritual values and rich musical beauties that inform both composers’ works.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is conducted and directed by Tõnu Kaljuste. It was founded as an amateur ensemble called the Ellerhein Choir in 1966 by his father, Heino Kaljuste. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir turned professional in 1981 and now gives approximately 100 concerts annually. Its concert tours have taken the group to the U.S., Finland, Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Japan. In November 1997, the choir performed Pärt’s Litany in Lincoln Center, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Previously, it went on a fall 1995 tour featuring Pärt’s Te Deum.

The choir’s recordings for ECM New Series/BMG Classics include three discs of Pärt’s Te Deum (nominated for a Grammy Award in the category “Best Choral Performance,” 1995), Litany, and Kanon Pokajanen, all of which have been international best sellers. For ECM, the Estonian Philharmonic has also recorded works of Estonians Veljo Tormis and Erkki-Sven Tuur. For Virgin Classics, the choir has recorded Tormis’ Calendar Songs and Pärt’s Beatus Vir.

The choir has worked with a number of guest conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Eric Ericson, Ward Swingle, Jon Washburn, Ivan Fisher, Sir David Willcocks, and Helmuth Rilling. It was one of fewer than 20 choirs worldwide invited to perform at the Third World Symposium on Choral Music in Vancouver in 1993. The 1994 and 1995 seasons included major tours to Spain and Austria, performing Haydn’s Creation with the Vienna Academy period instrument orchestra. At the 1991 Takarazuka Chamber Choir competition in Japan, the choir won three gold medals for its outstanding performance in the Women’s, Men’s and Mixed Choir categories, and in addition was awarded the Grand Prix.

The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (TCO) was founded in 1993 by Tõnu Kaljuste. The orchestra, which numbers between 16 and 40 musicians, is closely associated with 20th century repertoire, including works by Bartók, Britten, Tuur, and Pärt. The TCO frequently collaborates with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and in 1993 recorded its first CD with that ensemble. The CD made it on the Billboard “Classical Best Sellers” list.

The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra frequently works with guest conductors, including Terje Tonnesen, Richard Tognetti, and Juha Kangas. It has toured in Finland, Germany, France, and Italy.

Kaljuste has frequently worked as a guest conductor for choirs, including the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and Vancouver Chamber Choir, and also serves as artistic director of the Swedish Radio Choir. He has conducted operas by Mozart, Britten, Weber, and the traditional symphonic repertoire. In 1992 and 1996, he received the Annual Culture Award of Estonia. In 1996, he also was awarded The Great Bear Culture Prize for Estonian theater, music, and film art.

The 1999-2000 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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