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root salad Tallinn Music Week


Small country, big festival ideas. Bas Springer samples a varied Baltic roots gem


E


ven though Estonia only has 1.3 million inhabitants, this small Baltic state possesses a vibrant music scene indeed, amply demonstrated


at the 10th Tallinn Music Week. In total, 262 showcases were held at dozens of locations in this magnificent medieval Hanseatic city, with its old churches, wooden houses and winding streets paved with ancient cobble- stones, but also new creative hotspots in old industrial complexes. Without exagger- ation, one can say that Tallinn Music Week has developed into one of the most excit- ing and creative city festivals in Europe. This Baltic gem offers delegates and the public the chance to see how dynamic and creative a tiny Baltic state can be.


The driving force behind the Tallinn


Music Week is its director Helen Sildna, an energetic woman with a creative vision for the future. This year’s 10th anniversary festi- val coincided with Estonia’s 100th birthday. The name Tallinn Music Week is a little mis- leading, since the festival presents much more than just music, with design, films, and a conference focusing on music, new economy, civic initiatives, gender politics, creating better cities and design thinking. The music programme offers a broad range of artists from all over the world – from cult to pop, dance to metal, and folk to classical. The concerts are not only held in clubs and cafés but also in shopping centres, book shops, galleries, design studios, churches, record shops and private homes.


Tallinn Music Week opened this year with a special birthday concert led by renowned Estonian conductor Kristjan Järvi and friends. Most of the world music con- certs took place in Telliskivi, a creative hotspot located in a former industrial com- plex close to the Old Town. Telleskivi is the largest creative centre in Estonia, consisting of studios, creative companies, and offices of NGOs. There are several small designer stores and studios, places to eat and drink, photo galleries, and plenty of street art. In many other European cities a complex like this would have already been redeveloped by project designers and brokers. Not so in Tallinn, where nearly 600 cultural events take place annually. Here, you can also find the Club Of Different Rooms, Theatre Vaba Lava, and the Theatre Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava.


The Fenno-Ugria Night programmed five artists and groups with roots in that tra- dition. Among them was the talented singer-songwriter and kantele player Mari Kalkun. Falling back on her southern Estoni- an roots, Kalkun is the Estonian artist to watch. Her voice seems to stem from the


heart of the Estonian forests. Her deeply personal compositions and storytelling are rooted in ancient Estonian and Võru tradi- tions. The songs are largely her own, inspired by nature, Estonian poetry and folk music. Many of the lyrics are written by local poets conveying the feeling of rural life. The flowing sound of the Estonian lan- guage and its dialects invokes a meditative, homespun atmosphere in her dreamy songs. The language may perhaps sound strange to western ears but her warm and intimate stage presence makes the introduction to her magical world easy. Kalkun depicts Baltic winters and icy landscapes with her emotional and organic songs, accompany- ing herself on kantele.


The folk trio AR-GOD comprises the musicians/folklorists Maria Korepanova and Nikolai Anissimov from Udmurtia and multi- instrumentalist Toivo Sõmer from Estonia. They presented folk music from the her- itage of the Udmurts, Besermans, and Esto- nians, interwoven with traditional Finno- Ugric melodies. The trio’s repertoire consists mainly of polyphonic folk songs from vari- ous regions of Udmurt, which are impro- vised with prehistoric Finno-Ugric melodies. What makes this trio so fascinating is the original way they incorporate world music into their rich backyard of tradition.


One of Finland’s leading contemporary accordeonists, Maria Kalaniemi, hardly needs any introduction. Blessed with brilliant tech- nique and a talent for composing sensitive songs in numerous genres, from tango to folk, she is always a great pleasure to watch.


Mari Kalkun 35 f


Her set list included songs from her beautiful recently released CD Svalan, with famous Finnish harmonium player Eero Grundström, who also accompanied her on the night. Inspiration for her concert came from the overwhelming nature of northern Karelia.


he most impressive concert at the Tallinn Music Week was performed by Polish trio Kapela Maliszów from Mecina Mała, a small village in the western Carpathians. This family band comprises multi-instrumentalist Jan Malisz and his children – Zuzanna on vocals and percussion and Kacper on violin and basolia, a folk instrument similar to a cello. Kapela Maliszów are inspired by the tradi- tional music of their region and play wild, transcendently exciting folk songs and dance music from many different Polish regions. The three members allow each each another plenty of space in which to improvise, so that their repertoire is not just an academic reconstruction of old melodies.


T


Kapela Maliszów’s distinctive style is also influenced by jazz and world music. The violin and baraban (the drum) have been in the family for generations, handed down to Jan Malisz from his father, Jozef. Jozef also taught Jan the basics of many of the other instruments that could be found lying around the house. They had already made a great impression at the opening night of Womex 2017 in Katowice (Poland), and this evening they cemented their repu- tation as one of Poland’s most exciting con- temporary folk bands.


https://tmw.ee/ F


Photo: Hannariin Lamp


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