Ranked among the top professional choirs in the world, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is the flagship ensemble of Estonia. Perfect intonation, dazzlingly clear tone and unanimity of attack are the hallmarks of this remarkable group of singers.
The 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 and between the years 2008–2013 the artistic director and chief conductor was Daniel Reuss. Since 2014 Kaspars Putniņš has been the artistic director and chief conductor of the choir. Every season the EPCC gives 60–70 concerts both at home and abroad.
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir live at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, January 2018
Concert tours have taken the EPCC to almost everywhere in Europe as well as to Australia, Israel, China, South-Korea, Japan, Mexico and around a dozen times to the USA and Canada.
The EPCC has been a welcome guest at numerous music festivals all over the world; at the BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall in London, Wiener Konzerthaus, Salzburg Festspiele, Mozartwoche, Abu Gosh Music Festival in Israel, Musikfest Bremen, Se Cathedral in Macau, Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Bergen International Festival, Moscow Easter Festival, Berliner Philharmonie, Festival de Saint-Denis, National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center in Taipei, Festival Aix-en-Provence in France, Sidney Opera House, Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival to name but a few.
The choir’s repertoire spans from Renaissance to 21st century music. A long specific interest and emphasis is on Arvo Pärt’s and Veljo Tormis’ music. The EPCC is frequently invited to perform Arvo Pärt’s works. Kanon Pokajanen, Te Deum, Adam’s Lament, Berliner Messe are just some of his masterpieces the EPCC has often performed.
The EPCC’s repertoire includes great Estonian masters from history, such as Cyrillus Kreek, Mart Saar, Rudolf Tobias and of course music by contemporary composers including Erkki-Sven Tüür, Galina Grigoryeva, Tõnu Kõrvits, Toivo Tulev and Helena Tulve, often being the first choir to perform their new pieces.
In addition to a cappella Estonian music the EPCC’s repertoire includes major vocal-symphonic works by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Grieg, Gubaidulina etc.
The choir has participated at opera productions at the festivals in Estonia, in Luxembourg Grand Theatre, at the Bremen Music Festival, at Mozartwoche in Salzburg, at the Festival Aix-en-Provence in France.
The EPCC has cooperated with a number of outstanding conductors including Claudio Abbado, Helmuth Rilling, Sir Colin Davis, Eric Ericson, Christoph Poppen, Marc Minkowski, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Olari Elts, Nikolai Alekseyev, Andrew Lawrence-King, Roland Böer, Frieder Bernius, Ward Swingle, Stephen Layton, Avner Biron and many others.
The list of orchestras includes many internationally famous music group as the Norwegian, Australian, Lithuanian, Prague and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Palatino, Salzburg Camerata, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, The Israel Camerata, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and others.
Another important aspect of the choir’s work is recording music, with the yearly 1–3 CDs for labels as ECM, Virgin Classics, Carus, Harmonia Mundi, Ondine. There are more than 40 CDs recorded, many of them have won high critical acclaim, for instance a Grammy for Arvo Pärt. Da Pacem (2007, Harmonia Mundi, Paul Hillier), about 15 Grammy-nominees (for the recordings of Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Baltic Voices CD series), Diapason d’Or and other prizes.
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at Milton Court Concert Hall – Tuesday, January 30, 2018
…we could always bask in the choir’s perfect intonation, dazzling clean tone and unanimity of attack. Every vocal strand had depth, not least the basses, who rooted the textures with a rounded solidity…
Geoff Brown, February 1 2018, The Times
This was a beautifully planned showcase for the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under its Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš, poised between the introspective and the extrovert both within the all-Pärt first half and what followed after the interval, where Estonian composers no less precious than Pärt to their compatriots framed the late Jonathan Harvey’s mesmerising seraphics. And this Estonia 100 concert represented not just national pride but, with good enunciation in five languages, what makes this small Baltic country a paragon of doing right by the European project.
David Nice, 31 January 2018, The Arts Desk
This was an evening of unrivalled choral singing…
Nick Breckenfield, 31 January 2018, Classical Source