The Program for Baltic & Estonian Music Days 2024 "Umwelt" Revealed

Estonia’s largest premiere festival Estonian Music Days set to be held entirely in Tartu, the European Capital of Culture. For 2024, the significant showcase of contemporary local music will extend its reach to include new compositions from Latvia and Lithuania, under the expanded title Baltic & Estonian Music Days.

Tickets for various concerts from April 26 to May 5 are available at Piletilevi. The theme of this year’s festival is Umwelt, the artistic directors are Märt-Matis Lill, Helena Tulve and Timo Steiner.

The festival kicks off on April 26 with “The Call of the Three Towers,” an open-air event featuring a performance of Märt-Matis Lill’s latest composition, followed by the concert at Tartu St. John’s Church with premieres from Lauri Jõeleht, Tõnis Leemets, and esteemed Lithuanian composer Mykolas Natalevičius. Throughout Tartu, various concerts and interdisciplinary events will be held in diverse venues such as the Estonian National Museum, Tubin Hall, University of Tartu Museum, Harbour Theater, St. Paul’s Church, Natural History Museum of the University of Tartu, and other locations across the city.

Märt-Matis Lill expressed, “The theme of the festival, Umwelt (Omailm / Own World), is both deeply rooted in Tartu and holds global significance, echoing the enduring relevance of Jacob von Uexküll’s concept. Much like the notion of our individual worlds, this festival explores realms beyond human perception. We aim to delve into the sensory experiences of various creatures, both real and imagined and how their sonic environments might resonate. Given the breadth of this theme, we’re emphasizing collaboration with other artistic disciplines to enrich our exploration.”

The festival will feature world premieres by the following composers: Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes, Helena Tulve, Ülo Krigul, Timo Steiner, Lauri Jõeleht, Age Veeroos, Liisa Hõbepappel, Margo Kõlar, Paul Beaudoin, Doris Hallmägi, Jakob Juhkam, Matis Leima, Markus Robam, Marius Baranauskas, Mykolas Natalevičius, Andrus Kallastu, Alo Põldmäe, Toivo Tulev, Marianna Liik, Liina Sumera, Malle Maltis, René Eespere, Karmella Tsepkolenko, Tristan Murail, Andrius Maslekovas.

Throughout the festival, numerous renowned ensembles and performers will take the stage, including the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Defunensemble (Finland), Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tempus Balticus Trio, Ensemble U:, EAMT Sinfonietta, Repoo Ensemble, LENsemble (Lithuania), Altera Veritas (Latvia), among others.

One of the most captivating endeavors of this year’s festival in terms of interdisciplinary connections is an event taking place on the evening of April 30th at the Estonian National Museum. Here, the Wolverine Night Mystery is interwoven into an immersive experience. Visitors will encounter a succession of six new electronic compositions performed by the Ensemble of the Estonian Electronic Music Society, the unique soundscapes of Sami Klemola’s modular synthesizer, and the surrealist music-theater piece “Keemiseni viidud ajapudru” created collaboratively by Repoo Ensemble and Andrus Kallastu. This grand spectacle is unified by the performance art of Al Paldrok and the Non Grata collective.

The festival concludes with a piano recital by Sten Lassmann on May 5th at Tubin Hall, showcasing the rich diversity of Baltic piano music and featuring new compositions by Alo Põldmäe and Riho Esko Maimets. Attendees can also participate in a Sound Walk through the city of Tartu during the festival, and listen to a panel discussion on the theme Umwelt moderated by beloved writer and semiotician Valdur Mikita.

Audiences in Tallinn have the opportunity to attend two concerts: on the evening of April 26th, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra performs at the Estonia Concert Hall, featuring new compositions by Liisa Hõbepappel and Marius Baranauskas. Valle-Rasmus Roots will be the soloist for Age Veeroos’s newly composed cello concerto “Harpyia,” conducted by the distinguished British conductor Clement Power, renowned for his interpretations of contemporary music. Additionally, new compositions by students from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre will be performed by the EAMT Sinfonietta on April 28th.

Two significant composition competitions, sponsored by LHV, are currently underway. The “Young Composer 2024” competition accepts submissions until March 18th. The final concert will take place on April 27th at 4 p.m. in the Tubin Hall of the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu. The laureate of the “LHV New Music Award Au-tasu 2024” will be announced on April 28th.

The program for the Baltic and Estonian Music Days is available on the festival’s website at

Tickets can be purchased through Piletilevi, and festival passes are available on Fienta.

Photo: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir by Rene Jakobson