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Riverdale Choral Society returns from Estonian Song Festival
by Mimi S. Daitz for Vocal Area Network
Posted July 15, 2004

Riverdale Choral SocietyThe Riverdale Choral Society (RCS) has just returned from Estonia, Finland and Russia after participating in the Estonian United Song Festival, an event organized every five years since 1869. RCS members were among the 35,000 choral singers, dancers, and instrumentalists who performed for an audience of about 200,000. Unusual this year was the presence of 49 foreign choruses, including those from the Estonian diaspora (mainly in the United States, Canada, Australia and Sweden), as well as six American choruses independent of the American/Estonian communities.

The Festival featured choirs of all types: men's, women's, mixed, children's (pre-teens and teenagers), boys' and toddlers' (primary school children). The opening five songs for Concert I on July 3 were sung by all of those choirs together--numbering 21,325 voices! The following day, for the ending of Concert II, there were seven choral songs. RCS sang the opening and closing groups of compositions and saw first-hand that all those singers could fit on the specially constructed stage backed by an enormous shell.

The performance may not have provided the highest possible quality of music making, but it certainly was a special human experience. Seeing composers and conductors cheered, as rock or sports stars are the U.S., was unforgettable. The President of Estonia spoke, and even though many couldn't understand his words, his presence showed the importance of choral music in our host country. Pouring rain on the rehearsal day and intermittent sprinkles during Concert I did not discourage either performers or audience, though the usual four-kilometer procession from Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds was canceled. Many intrepid Estonian choruses marched nevertheless, lead by internationally known conductor Eri Klas. And there were memorable musical moments. The sound of so many voices singing piano was breathtaking for singers and audience members alike.

Readers should put this small country on their list of places to visit, whether for the next United Song Festival in 2009 or at any other time. Dates and places of choral concerts and festivals can be obtained from the Estonian Choral Society, kooriyhing@kul.ee. For information on the Riverdale Choral Society, visit www.riverdalechoral.org.

Mimi S. Daitz is the Music Director of the Riverdale Choral Society. This is her first article for Vocal Area Network.

Content Contact: Mimi S. Daitz.
Revision Date: July 15, 2004.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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