The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

"Balance between the voices was sublime, as was the sense of phrasing and, crucially, space; timings were perfectly judged to let the sound fill and fade naturally in the acoustic."

- Kate Molleson, The Guardian

"Under Putnins direction, the choir sang with a shimmering, warm blend of voices and the pure tonal beauty that is their trademark sound." 

- George Grella, New York Classical Review

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

The Grammy Award-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC) is one of the best-known Estonian music ensembles in the world. The EPCC was founded in 1981 by Tõnu Kaljuste who was the artistic director and chief conductor for twenty years. In the years 2001–2007, the English musician Paul Hillier took over. Between the years 2008–2013 the artistic director and chief conductor was Daniel Reuss and in the years 2014–2021 Kaspars Putniņš. Since August 2021 the artistic director and chief conductor is Tõnu Kaljuste.

The repertoire of the choir extends from Gregorian chant and baroque to the music of the 21st century, with a special focus on the work of Estonian composers, such as Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigoryeva, Toivo Tulev, Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, and introducing their output to the world. Each season the choir gives about 60-70 concerts both in Estonia and abroad.

The EPCC has cooperated with a number of outstanding conductors including Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Eric Ericson, Ward Swingle, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Nikolai Alekseyev, Olari Elts, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Böer, Frieder Bernius, Stephen Layton, Marc Minkowski, Christoph Poppen, Sir Colin Davis, Michael Riesman, Louis Langree, Paul McCreesh, Gottfried von der Goltz, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Gustavo Dudamel etc.

The EPCC has also worked with the following world-class orchestras such as the Norwegian, Australian, Lithuanian, Prague and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Palatino, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, the Salzburg Camerata, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the North Netherland Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.

 

The EPCC has been a welcome guest at numerous music festivals and outstanding venues all over the world including the BBC Proms, the Mozartwoche, the Abu Gosh Music Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Musikfest Bremen, the Salzburg Festspiele, Mozartwoche, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Aix-en-Provence, the International Cervantino Festival, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, the Bergen International Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Sydney Opera House, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Versailles Opéra Royal, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, LSO St Luke’s and Barbina Centre in London, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Flagey in Brussels, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, the Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles etc.

 

Another important aspect in the choir’s life is recording music (for ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi and Ondine), resulting in various award-winning CDs. The EPCC recordings have twice won a Grammy-Award for Best Choral Performance: in 2007 for the album of Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem (Harmonia Mundi) with conductor Paul Hillier and Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament (ECM) with conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. All in all, the choir has 15 Grammy nominations with works by Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and the music from the Nordic countries. In 2018 the recording „Schnittke – Psalms of Repentance. Pärt – Magnificat & Nunc dimittis” (BIS), conducted by Kaspars Putniņš, won Gramophone Award. The EPCC recordings have also won the award Diapason d’Or, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Danish Music Award, de Choc de l’Année Classica 2014, and more. In 2020 BBC Music Magazine has named EPCC as one of the 10 best choirs in the world.

Tõnu Kaljuste

Artistic Director and
Chief Conductor

Tõnu Kaljuste is a world-
renowned choir and

orchestra conductor. His

most historic achievement

to date is the Grammy for

Best Choral Performance

for the Arvo Pärt album

Adam’s Lament in 2014. His recordings have had a number of Grammy nominations in various categories from opera (David and Bathsheba of the Norwegian composer Ståle Kleiberg) to symphonic music. In 2019 he won the International Classical Music Award for the recording of Arvo Pärt’s symphonies with the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

Kaljuste’s recordings have won several other prestigious prizes such as the Cannes Classical Award (1999), Diapason d’Or (2000), Edison Musical Award (2000) and Classic BRIT Award (2003). He has recorded for the ECM Records, Virgin Classic, BIS and Caprice Records labels.

 

Tõnu Kaljuste has established an international reputation with his mastery of a diverse repertoire ranging from operas and classical symphonic works to modern music.

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He has collaborated closely with legendary composers of Northern and East European modernism, such as Alfred Schnittke, György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Giya Kancheli and Einojuhani Rautavaara, and has proven himself an expert and a committed advocate of the music of the Estonian composers Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Tõnu Kõrvits, Veljo Tormis and Heino Eller.

 

Collaboration with leading orchestras and choirs in Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA has added an extra dimension to Kaljuste’s international renown. Kaljuste has been the Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Chamber Choir and the Swedish Radio Choir and was named Conductor Laureate of the latter in 2019.

 

Tõnu Kaljuste served as Professor and Chair of the Conducting Faculty of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre from 2010 to 2020. He is the founder of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (1993) and since the 2019/20 season once again its Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Kaljuste founded the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 1981 and is back after 20 years, from August 2021 as its Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Kaljuste has served as Artistic Director of Nargen Opera, the project theatre that he launched, since 2004 and led Nargenfestival, a notable event in Estonia’s music calendar, since 2006.

Discography

Tõnu Kõrvits “Moorland Elegies” (2017, Ondine)

  • Moorland Elegies for mixed choir and string orchestra (2015)

  • EPCC, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Conductor Risto Joost

Tõnu Kõrvits “Mirror” (2016, ECM)

  • Anja Lechner – Violoncello, Kadri Voorand – Voice, Tõnu Kõrvits – Kantele

  • Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste

Galina Grigorjeva “Nature Morte” (2016, Ondine)

  • Works for Chamber Choir and Chamber Ensembles

  • EPCC, Theatre of Voices, YXUS Quartet; Conductor Paul Hillier; Recorder Conrad Steimnann

The EPCC recordings have twice won Grammy Awards, and have been nominated 15 times. Other awards include Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

For more info about EPCC recordings visit   https://www.epcc.ee/en/discography/.

A Selection of Programmes

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“Estonian Music”

Mart Saar (1882–1963)               

  • Noore veljo, veeritage / Young Brethren, Sing! - 3’

  • Seitse sammeldanud sängi / Seven Moss-Grown Beds - 3’40

 Cyrillus Kreek (1889–1962)

  • Sirisege, sirbikesed / Sing, Sickles! – 4’

  • Lauliku omaksed / Singer’s Kinsfolk (male choir) – 2’

  • Talvine õhtu / Winter Evening        - 2’

 Veljo Tormis (1930)

– Jaanilaulud / St John’s Day Songs    - 15’

 Cyrillus Kreek

  • Psalm 22 - 4’30

  • Psalm 104 - 2’30

  • Õnnis on inimene / Blessed is the Man - 3’26

 Galina Grigorjeva (1962)

– Nox Vitae – 16’

 Arvo Pärt (1935)

  • Kaks slaavi psalmi / Two Slavonic Psalms   - 8’

  • Magnificat – 8’

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“Nordic”

Arvo Pärt – Solfeggio

Pyotr Tchaikovsky – Excerpts from cycle 9 Sacred Choruses:

  • Cherubic Hymn, No 3

  • Blessed Are They, Whom Thou Hast Chosen, No 7

  • Now the Powers of Heaven, No 9

Arvo Pärt

  • Nunc dimittis

  • The Woman With Alabaster Box

  • Dopo la vittoria

 I n t e r m i s s i o n

Veljo Tormis – Towerbell in My Village

Jean Sibelius

  • Sydämeni laulu / Song Of My Heart (No 6 from cycle 6 Partsongs, Op 18)

  • Rakastava / The Lover

  • Saarella Palaa / Fire On the Island (No 4 from 6 Partsongs, Op 18)

Veljo Tormis – Curse Upon Iron

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“Russian Orthodox Music”

Alfred Schnittke – Three Sacred Hymns

Sergei Rachmaninov – The Theotokos, Ever-Vigilant in Prayer

Arvo Pärt

  • Magnificat

  • Da Pacem Domine

  • Nunc dimittis

  • Two Slavonic Psalms

Ivan Moody – Thy Fatherly Embrace

Georgy Sviridov – Inexpressible Miracle

Sergei Rachmaninov – We Hymn Thee, No 12 (from Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op 31)

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“Rachmaninov”

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873–1934) – Vespers op. 37 – 55’

“European Music”

Arvo Pärt  (1935)

  • Magnificat – 8’

  • Da Pacem Domine – 6’

  • Nunc dimittis – 7’

  • Kaks slaavi psalmi / Two Slavonic Psalms - 8’

Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998) – Three Sacred Hymns – 6’

Galina Grigorjeva (1962) – Nox Vitae – 16’