TALK 18.00 – The participants and themes will be announced later this spring

Since Tõnu Kaljuste became the Radio Choir’s chief conductor in 1994, his countryman Arvo Pärt’s music has become a part of the Swedish concert repertoire. The characteristic and seemingly simple music has a depth and complexity that not all conductors are able to convey. Through their close collaboration over many years, Kaljuste has become the world’s foremost Pärt expert. Here, he and Tallinn’s Chamber Orchestra will perform an extensive programme, from Für Alina from 1976 to Vater Unser from 2011. The evening’s conversation will be live-streamed from cultural centre Hanaholmen outside Helsinki. The participants and themes will be announced later this spring.

Many music lovers might know Arvo Pärt mainly through his choral music, either as one of many devoted Pärt lovers among the listeners, or as one of all the singers that have been fascinated by the seemingly simple, but deceptively complex sounds he builds. Unlike the avant-gardists of the 20th century, Pärt paints with pure, bright colours: triads, suspensions, tension and relaxation that everyone can understand and receive. But dismissing the music as simple or banal for this reason would be to do the music and the composer a great disservice. Beneath the surface is a depth and complexity that require thought and awareness from the interpreter; otherwise the music risks becoming a nice surface, but not much else.

Pärt’s countryman, Estonian conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, has, for many years, had a close collaboration with the composer, and has performed many of his works. It’s not for nothing that Kaljuste is known as the world’s foremost Pärt expert and interpreter, a person who has really managed to bring out the whole spectrum of colours in the music without getting stuck in the attractive surface. Here, he gives us a bouquet of Pärt’s instrumental pieces, such as Für Alina from 1976, which introduced the world to “tintinnabuli,” the self-termed style that has become Pärt’s trademark.

Pärt’s earlier works were inspired both by neoclassicists like Prokofiev and Bartók, and by Schönberg, serialism and twelve-tone technique. But when his music was banned by the Soviet government – Pärt grew up in the occupied Estonia – and he also found himself in an artistic cul-de-sac, he turned to early Western music, Gregorian song, the Renaissance, and the very oldest polyphony. When he returned from this artistic hibernation, Für Alina and other works showed a reborn composer, in some ways. All works at this concert were created after Pärt’s musical resting period.

From the meditative Spiegel im Spiegel – mirror in mirror – to L’abbé Agathon, based on a story from the time of the oldest Christian monasteries, an extensive portrait of a humble, honest and fascinating composer is drawn. Even though he is the most performed composer of our time, he’s no prima donna, nor holier-than-thou. In 2007, when he was named an honorary Doctor of Theology at the University of Freiburg, he told a moving story that is typical for him as a person:

“Some thirty years ago, I sought desperately for someone who could tell me how a composer was able to write music. One day, I met a simple street-sweeper who gave me a noteworthy answer: ‘Oh, the composer should probably love every single little sound.’ From that moment on, my musical thoughts moved in a completely new direction. Nothing was the same again.”

Text: David Saulesco



The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1993 by the conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, formed from a string orchestra at the Tallinn Conservatory. At its core, it is still a string orchestra, but it is now complemented with brass and wind musicians from the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Estonian National Opera. The orchestra has made celebrated recordings of works by several Baltic composers, such as Crystallisatio by Erkki-Sven Tüür, Litany and In principio by Arvo Pärt and Neenia by Heino Eller. They regularly tour and perform at festivals in for example Schleswig-Holstein, Turin and Bremen. The orchestra’s guest composers include Juha Kangas, Terje Tonnesen, Kristjan Järvi and John Storgårds.

The Estonian conductor Tõnu Kaljuste is familiar to Swedish audiences after his time as the Swedish Radio Choir’s Chief Conductor from 1994–2000. This versatile musician has been a driving force in awakening interest in the Nordic region to music from the Baltic countries. He founded the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and then, ten years later, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, both of which have become very successful and perform at the world’s major concert venues and festivals. He is known for his interpretations of the works of Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis, and has won prestigious awards for his many recordings. Among his latest collaborations are the Norrlandsoperan Symphony Orchestra, the Wrocław Philharmonic and the choir at Orquestra Gulbenkian in Lisbon.

Concert length: 1 hour 55 minutes incl. interval

BALTIC SEA FESTIVAL TALK 18.00 – 18.45, Berwaldhallen, livestreamed from cultural centre Hanaholmen outside Helsinki

The participants and themes will be announced later this spring.

About Hanaholmen. Hanaholmen – Cultural Centre for Sweden and Finland, works to develop collaboration between the countries in all areas of society. Hanaholmen plans and organises different kinds of events, courses, seminars and projects, and evaluates various societal development needs. Hanaholmen is also a conference centre and hotel with a view of the Baltic Sea. Hanaholmen administrates four Nordic foundations, of which the biggest is the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Foundation. The Swedish-Finnish Cultural Foundation is also Hanaholmen’s mandator, which means that it’s ultimately responsible for Hanaholmen’s operations. The cultural centre at Hanaholmen was opened in 1975 by King Carl XVI Gustaf and president Urho Kekkonen. In 1967, Finland’s jubilee year, Sweden decided to remit 100 million SEK of wartime debt, and a return gift was required. The Finnish government decided to open a jointly administered cultural centre to develop collaboration between the two countries.