Pärnu Music Festival 2018

Now in its eighth year, the 2018 Pärnu Music Festival will take place from 5 – 11 August and celebrates the 100th anniversary of Estonian Independence by featuring an Estonian work in every programme. The seven day long festival which Paavo Järvi founded in 2011, this year includes four orchestras and all three members of the Järvi conducting family dynasty – brothers Paavo and Kristjan and of course father, Neeme Järvi.
Situated in a charming, old-fashioned seaside resort on the Baltic coast where the Järvi family gathered each summer before emigrating to the States in 1980, this summer and the 100th anniversary of Estonian Independence mark a particular landmark in both the family and country’s history. Estonian Independence was first declared in Pärnu from the balcony of the Endla Theatre on 23 February 1918. It was a moment of such importance that Tallinn declared Independence the next day from the capital itself. All of Estonia’s history from the last 100 years is wrapped up in its music, a time when orchestral music has developed in both good times and bad, in freedom and occupation, all making its imprint and creating the new voice of a young nation. This summer Neeme Järvi will conduct Heino Eller’s Five Pieces for String Orchestra and Rudolf Tobias’ Nocturne with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Kristjan Järvi & Friends perform an Estonian inspired programme; and Paavo Järvi directs the Estonian Festival Orchestra in two concerts featuring Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 3, Erkki Sven Tüür’s Fireflower (written for and dedicated to Paavo) and the world premiere of Jüri Reinvere’s commission for the orchestra entitled And tired from happiness, they started to dance. Joining Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Orchestra on stage are two world class soloists, Elisabeth Leonskaja who performs the Grieg Piano Concerto (5 August) and Midori who performs Sibelius’ Violin Concerto (11 August).

Immediately following the festival, Paavo Järvi will take the Estonian Festival Orchestra to London for its debut at the BBC Proms (13 August) making history as the first ever Estonian Orchestra to perform at the world famous British festival. The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV. From London Paavo and the musicians will travel to Hamburg for a further performance at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie Summer Concerts (15 August). For an orchestra that has only ever performed in Pärnu until as recently as August 2017 the privilege of being invited to play at two such international events is a particular honour.

Core to the Pärnu Music Festival are not only the concerts but also the daily programme of masterclasses which form the Järvi Conducting Academy, led by Paavo and Neeme Järvi who are joined by guest conductor Leonid Grin. Additionally visiting musicians and members of the Estonian Festival Orchestra take on the role of mentoring young musicians in string and wind masterclasses throughout the week, performing chamber music together in a relaxed yet highly motivated atmosphere. “What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place?” asked Die Welt. “The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention.”

For Paavo, the Pärnu Music Festival is not just another festival. It is the chance to return to his roots, to showcase the culture and beauty of his country and to nurture the next generation of composers and musicians. And the Estonian Festival Orchestra has become a major part of that story, bringing together professional Estonian players with musicians from across Europe and beyond, with the same motto of Estonian Independence as it was read from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in 1918:

 “You stand on the threshold of a hopeful future in which you shall be free and independent in determining and directing your destiny! Begin building a home of your own, ruled by law and order, in order to be a worthy member within the family of civilized nations!“

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