EFO’S FIRST RECORDING TO BE RELEASED SOON!

Without Pärnu, the Estonian Festival Orchestra and this – our first album together – would not exist.

Pärnu is a special place that embodies the history and spirit of the orchestra, my own family and Estonia as a whole. It is a quiet seaside resort on the Baltic coast, south of Tallinn, where all the Järvi family gathered for two months every summer. With its large and sheltered sandy bay, endless parks and surrounding birch forests, Pärnu has always been a favourite holiday destination and, during occupation, it was also the summer home of many Soviet artists including Dmitri Shostakovich and David Oistrakh who visited for the nearest thing to western tolerance and understanding in the Soviet Union. A holiday any closer to the West was not possible for any of us.

It was here in 1973 that I met Shostakovich together with my father when I was ten years old, a moment captured on camera and which now sits proudly in the family photo album. Behind the camera was Gustav Ernesaks, the Estonian choral conductor and composer whose song, Mu isamaa on minu arm, became an unofficial national anthem for all Estonians during the Soviet occupation.

In 1980 we left for the States and for years to come, memories of childhood holidays in Pärnu became increasingly distant and nostalgic. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the renewed Independence of Estonia were we eventually allowed to return home and, following my father’s initiative in creating a conducting Masterclass Academy in Pärnu, we decided to expand the venture into a summer festival, celebrating the orchestra at its heart. In July 2011 the Pärnu Music Festival came into life and so did the Estonian Festival Orchestra, bringing together young Estonian players and top-league musicians from orchestras around the world, – musical colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure to work with on numerous occasions over the years. It was immediately clear that another family had been born with a hunger and energy for performing together which is a rare joy to find nowadays.

An important component in creating the orchestra was to “match-make” the players. If you are a young player in Estonia, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s not often easy to make contact with a top player in the west. Now we can give these young musicians the advantage to play with elite players from abroad and get to know them as new friends. This spirit is what drives the orchestra and it is a delight each summer to see how those relationships have grown naturally, creating a melting pot of national and international talent where nationality is happily and importantly no boundary.

The week of the festival is intense and everyone gives their utmost in a schedule packed tight with rehearsals, master-classes and concerts, following which we gather together in what is now traditionally known as the “real festival headquarters” – the Passion Café, where friendships are forged and new plans for the future are hatched. It is a remarkable coincidence, and one which is never lost on me, that in the very same building where the Passion Café now stands there used to be a printing house where the manifesto for the Estonian Declaration of Independence was first printed in 1918.

It is often said that there is something in the Estonian air that is a mixture of Scandinavian, German and Russian influences and, even though we have our own very strong national identity, it is true that we also have a natural feeling for neighbouring cultures as a result of our historical and geographical position. So the idea for the Estonian Festival Orchestra is to explore music by composers from across the Baltic region, which naturally includes championing Estonia’s own composers and music from the Nordic countries as well as music from Poland, Russia and Germany, countries with which our history is strongly interlinked.

For our first recording I have chosen the music of Shostakovich, not only because he is one of the giants of 20th century music but also because of his connection to Pärnu where he both stayed and composed. Symphony no. 6 is a masterpiece but it also differs from all of Shostakovich’s other symphonies because it has an air of peculiar lightness. As the composer himself said “I wanted to convey in it the moods of spring, joy and youth.” Despite that lightness the subtexts are grim and after the first casual listen one can sense the composer’s struggle with the terror of living in the Soviet reality.

The “Sinfonietta” is a 1961 arrangement for string orchestra and timpani of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 compiled by the composer’s trusted friend, Abram Stasevich, and orchestrated with the composer’s personal blessing. Premiered one year previously, the Quartet is a musical autobiography describing Shostakovich’s life to that point, including citations of pieces that he had previously written and his own musical leitmotif – DSCH. It is a profound work dedicated “In memory of the victims of fascism and war” and which, when performed by the Borodin Quartet at his home in Moscow, left the composer in tears.

Performing and recording these works in Pärnu with a generation of musicians who can now enjoy both peace and freedom of movement across Europe’s borders makes these works feel even more poignant. As the Estonian Declaration of Independence states:

“You stand on the threshold of a hopeful future in which you shall be free and independent in determining and directing your destiny! Begin building a home of your own, ruled by law and order, in order to be a worthy member within the family of civilized nations!“

Paavo Järvi, September 2017

EFO NEWS

Paavo Järvi to take Estonia’s centennial celebrations across Europe

Paavo Järvi to take Estonia’s centennial celebrations across Europe

One of the flagships of the Estonia 100 international programme, the Estonian Festival Orchestra (EFO) together with Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi will set out on a European tour to prominent concert halls in January. In Tallinn and Brussels, the EFO will also be performing the world premiere of  Erkki-Sven Tüür’s  Ninth Symphony,  in honour of Estonia’s centenary.

Paavo Järvi considers the Estonian Festival Orchestra to be one of his most important musical projects. “I see the Estonian Festival […]

LIVE FACEBOOK STREAM TONIGHT FROM STOCKHOLM

Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra’s concert at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm tonight will be broadcast live on Swedish Radio and filmed as a live stream on the orchestra’s new facebook. Join Paavo and the EFO live in Stockholm for their last concert of their very first tour.

Shostakovich: Symphony No.1
Tüür: Accordion Concerto ‘Prophecy’ with Ksenija Sidorova
Sibelius: Symphony No.2

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EFO PRESS

“A very special lure on the Baltic Sea Festival’s progamme was the young teenage Dmitri Shostakovich’s first symphony from 1925, and it also became Paavo Järvi’s real triumph. Here was a young, hungry orchestra which was also very congenial; musicians who both can and will bite on the challenges which scores and conductor present them.

What a mood of Bolshevik twenty-seventeen and a self-conscious teenage genius! Here you will find spooky cabaret, spanky puppets and pointed montage within the framework of a safe and small creative orchestration. Paavo Järvi triggered his festival musicians in silent movie tempo and with perfect articulation.”
Dagens Nyheter, Camilla Lundberg, 26 August 2017

“… The Sibelius symphony (no. 2) showed an orchestra with a nerve and willingness to play all the way … the energy and cohesion to create an uncontrollable and direct symphonic world that hit right in the diaphragm.”
Politiken, Henrik Friis, 24 August 2017

“The concert of the Turku Music Festival on Saturday night became a poignant tribute. Paavo Järvi, director of the Estonian Festival Orchestra, dedicated the concert to the memory of the victims (of the previous day’s attack). The performance began with a minute’s silence, after which he conducted Jean Sibelius’s Valse Triste … Meanwhile, the performance of the 18 year old Dmitry Shostakovich’s chamber symphony was both amazing and vivid. Paavo Järvi has always had the ability to clearly outline a dense orchestral texture, but now there is more warmth and flight.”

Turun musiikkijuhlat. Viron festivaaliorkesteri kapellimestarina Paavo Järvi ja solistina viulisti Lisa Batiashvili. – Sibelius, Nielsen, Tšaikovski, Kantšeli, Šostakovitš.
TURUN musiikkijuhlien päätöskonsertista lauantai-iltana tuli kaunis kunnianosoitus.
Viron festivaaliorkesterin johtaja Paavo Järvi oli päättänyt omistaa konsertin uhrien muistolle. Tilaisuus alkoi minuutin hiljaisuudella, jonka jälkeen hän johti ohjelman ulkopuolelta Jean Sibeliuksen Valse tristen.
Vesa Siren, Helsingen Sanomat, Finland
Full story in Finnish at hs.fi

Im verträumten estnischen Badestädtchen Pärnu leitet Paavo Järvi ein einzigartiges Festival – und hat mit dem Estnischen Festivalorchester einen Klangkörper von europäischem Rang ins Leben gerufen.
Die Presse

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention”
Die Welt

Sweden’s Opus Magazine interviews Paavo Järvi about “Memories, a meeting place & music”  – three words that characterise Pärnu and the Estonian Festival Orchestra which makes its
debut at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival on 24 August.
Read the full story in Swedish on line at opusmagasin.se

“The musicians of the orchestra come from everywhere. Members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen sit shoulder to shoulder with Estonian newcomers and colleagues from France, Greece or the USA. Paavo Järvi’s goal (“over two or three years”) is to emulate an institution such as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Claudio Abbado elite-based ensemble, gathering the best of the best summer each summer. This may seem a bit of a high goal, but it is not far-fetched. Pärnu also has a special aura, scenic and relaxing like around Lake Lucerne. Its remote, northern location has an enormous charm. Last but not least, the orchestra will be going on its first European Tour in 2018 to make itself known more widely.” (April 2017)
www.zeit.de

One half consists of Estonian musicians, the other is made up from artists Paavo met during his successful conducting career, the festival’s orchestra is now ready to take flight and start touring Europe.“As little as we get some sleep here, and as much as we work here, somehow there is an enormous sense of accomplishment, and adrenaline, and good music-making; every summer I am richer by getting to know very close and personally some of the greatest musicians that are alive today,” said Järvi.
www.euronews.com

“This is highly concentrated music making, where all the details are worked out: the ping pong of accents between violins and horns, antiphons between the woodwind groups, targeted focus curves in the second violins. Nothing is sweeping, nothing sleepy and nothing washed away. As Iván Fischer did with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi has also chosen the best musicians from orchestras around the world with which he has worked … Järvi could go into open competition with Lucerne and Verbier. For this purpose he could have extended – even expanded – the festival time and programme in Pärnu with more courses and concerts. But he does not want this … “I need this week for high concentration in Pärnu. I have experienced so many festivals that have been seduced by their success to increase their growth. They continue to produce good music, but their character is lost.” (July 2016)
www.faz.net

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ESTONIAN FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA

The Estonian Festival Orchestra was founded by Paavo Järvi in 2011 and made it’s debut at the newly inaugurated Pärnu Music Festival as the resident summer orchestra.

The long dreamed of ambition by Järvi to create a hand picked orchestra, bringing together the best of Estonian talent and leading musicians from around the world, has resulted in performances which The Arts Desk reviewed in 2015 as “begging comparison with the elasticity of Abbado’s concerts with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which is as good as it can get”. The BBC Music Magazine added “There isn’t a hint of a hothouse environment on stage – these are simply musicians having the time of their lives, no small thanks to the inspiring Paavo Järvi himself.” Last but not least, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented “This is highly concentrated music making where all the details are worked out: the ping pong of accents between violins and horns, antiphons between the woodwind groups, targeted focus curves in the second violins. Nothing is sweeping, nothing sleepy and nothing washed away.”

These reviews encapsulate Paavo Järvi’s goals in bringing colleagues and friends together to create a new orchestra which could grow out of the festival spirit. “An important component in creating the orchestra was to “match-make” the players in a professional way but within the festival atmosphere” says Järvi. “If you are a young player in Estonia, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s not always easy to make contact with a top player in the west. Now we can give these young musicians the advantage to both play with top colleagues from around Europe and get to know them as new friends. This spirit is what drives the orchestra and makes me particularly proud as its father figure.”

Estonia – with its relatively short lived history of independence and much longer history of occupation – retains a close identity with its neighbors: Finland, Denmark, Germany and Russia are all closely tied with Estonia’s history and culture and so is the music of composers such as Sibelius, Nielsen, Mahler and Shostakovich which are integral to the orchestra’s repertoire. With eventual independence the country’s own orchestral identity has grown phenomenally over the last few decades and, as ambassadors of Estonia’s musical culture, the Järvi conducting family dynasty has championed the music of composers including Arvo Pärt, Lepo Sumera, Eduard Tubin and Erkki-Sven Tüür all of whose works have reached audiences across Europe and beyond.

In January 2018 the Estonian Festival Orchestra makes its first major European tour with concerts in Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Cologne and Luxembourg. This tour, which also celebrates the 100th anniversary of Estonian Independence, will include a new work by Estonian composer, Erkki-Sven Tüür specially written for the orchestra. Entitled Mythos, Symphony No. 9 will receive its international premiere in Brussels on 18 January.

Coinciding with the tour, Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra release their first CD on Alpha Classics featuring Shostakovich Symphony No. 6 and Sinfonietta, both recorded at the Pärnu Music Festival. The CD will be released internationally on 12 January.

These two important milestones for the orchestra are made possible by the support of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and Estonia 100, which has embraced Paavo Järvi’s vision to bring greater recognition to his native country and celebrate Estonia’s cultural identity within Europe.


BOARD & MANAGEMENT

CONCERTS

 

2018

January 16 at 19:00
Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
Erkki-Sven Tüür: Symphonie No.9 “Mythos”
Johannes Brahms: Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 18 at 20:00
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Erkki-Sven Tüür: Symphonie No.9 “Mythos”
Arvo Pärt: Fratres (version for orchestra and percussion)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 20 at 18:30
Tonhalle, Zürich
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Jean Sibelius: Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47
Arvo Pärt: Fratres (version for orchestra and percussion)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 21 at 20:00
Philharmonie, Köln
Johannes Brahms: Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 22 at 20:00
Philharmonie, Berlin
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Jean Sibelius: Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47
Arvo Pärt: Fratres (for Orchestra and Percussion)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 23 at 19:30
Konzerhaus, Vienna
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Jean Sibelius: Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47
Arvo Pärt: Fratres (version for orchestra and percussion)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

January 24 at 20:00
Philharmonie, Luxembourg
Johannes Brahms: Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Viktoria Mullova, violin
Paavo Järvi, conductor

 

PÄRNU MUSIC FESTIVAL

The Pärnu Music Festival and Järvi Academy were founded by Paavo Järvi in 2010 together with his father, Neeme, and its family atmosphere envelopes the visiting musicians, students and audience to create a unique summer refuge on the Estonian coast. Now in its seventh year the 2017 festival, which runs from 10 – 17 August, is particularly special as it is dedicated to the 80th birthday of Neeme Järvi who will conduct the opening concert (10 August) with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and soloist Kolja Blacher featuring the music of Estonian composer Jaan Rääts and works by Beethoven and Mozart. Both Neeme and Paavo Järvi lead this summer’s annual conducting course which culminates in a special concert featuring the students (12 August) and the Estonian Festival Orchestra reunites for two concerts conducted by Paavo Järvi featuring guest soloists Radu Lupu (13 August) and Lisa Batiashivili (17 August). The programmes, which feature music by Beethoven, Nielsen, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky reflect Estonia’s close historical ties with its neighbouring European countries and Russia – all of which occupied Estonia at some point in its history.
www.parnumusicfestival.ee
(Aerial photo of Pärnu: © Kristian Pikner. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

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