The Jazzkaar 30 Celebrations Started with a Special Rewrite of Estonian Classical Composers

21. April 2019
Elisa Polov

To some people the Jazzkaar festival definitely marks the beginning of spring. This year’s opening concert took place on the 19th of April, celebrating Jazzkaar’s 30th anniversary. Telliskivi Creative City invited a full house of jazz fans to enjoy a very special gathering of 12 classical and jazz musicians at Vaba Lava (‘Open Stage’).


The evening contained a mixture of Kirke Karja and Mingo Rajandi paying their respects to two of the most prominent Estonian composers, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Lepo Sumera, whose anniversaries will be celebrated next year. The concert started with a magical, unexpected atmosphere – a very wide fresh sound, made what it was by a mixture of jazz as well as classical musicians. With Erkki-Sven Tüür, Karja and Rajandi the music took a softer and more thoughtful approach, whereas Sumera’s rewritings mainly leant towards unexpected heavier jazz or jazz-rock versions of his pieces.


A special touch was added to the soundscape of the whole concert by Liisi Koikson, who was put in the role of using her voice as an instrument and not necessarily singing the lead melody with words. It was surprising how well the voice could be combined in dialogue with the flute, saxophone or strings.


Furthermore, a couple of songs, such as Tüür’s “Like the Stars” and Sumera’s “Stars”, unknown to general public, were brought to the stage, and being the only pieces with words they created a very powerful contrast to the remaining part of the concert. In a way, these songs brought out the key themes of the concert, which leaned towards nature and Estonians’ love of the forest, and created a feeling of warmth, dreaminess and freshness for the whole evening.


Estonian festivals are starting a very thankworthy tradition of paying their respects to the best Estonian composers. It started with Veljo Tormis and continues this year with references to Tüür and Sumera, which were performed excellently by Kirke Karja and Mingo Rajandi.


Kirke Karja and Mingo Rajandi Ensemble


Kirke Karja: piano

Mingo Rajandi: double bass

Liisi Koikson: voice

Mari-Liis Vihermäe: flute

Lauri Kadalipp: saxophone

Marek Talts: guitars

Tiit Joamets: vibraphone

Hans Kurvits: drums


String Quartet Prezioso


Hanna-Liis Nahkur: I violin

Mari-Katrina Suss: II violin

Helena Altmanis: viola

Andreas Lend: cello


Check out photos of the concert here