On the 1st of July Estonia took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. To celebrate it, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is hosting an exhibition of photographs called Estonian Colours, which shows one of the biggest amateur choral events in the world, The Estonian Song Festival, which in its XXVI edition took place in 2014 in Tallin.
“It is something very Estonian,” said Aivar Paidla, Head of the Estonian Translation at the EESC Committee of Regions. “Almost every family has someone who participates as a singer, dancer, musician, organizer, volunteer or spectator there. The festival touches everyone deeply in Estonia.”
The Song Festival, called Laulupidu in Estonian, is held every five years in July on the Song Festival Grounds in Tallin, in parallel with the Dance Festival. The first Song Festival took place in the university city of Tartu in 1869, and its origins are linked to a sense of Estonian national awakening. Over the years, the number of participants has steadily grown and in the 2014 edition the figures showed over thirty thousand participants.
“It is an amazing feeling to see ten thousand dancers in their folk costumes,” said Mr. Paidla. “You see them tightly next to each other, dancing the same dance, forming the same patterns all over the stadium lawn. It is something really unique. And there is of course, the music. It’s a fantastic opportunity to listen to more than thirty thousand choral singers singing the same song under one conductor. It is the reason why Estonians all over the country and even all over the world would like to make their ways to Estonia to experience the song and dance festival live.”
The next Song Festival will take place in 2019 but there is another festival called, The Estonian Youth Song and Dance Celebration, also held every five years. Its XII edition took place this year, on the weekend of June 30th and July 2nd, when Estonia took over the EU Presidency.
The photo exhibition, which will be open to the public as of July 5th, contains the work by photographers Aivar Pihelgas, Jaanus Ree, Ilmārs Znotinš, Jelena Rudi, Sven Začek and Rene Mitt. The six photographers, led by Aivar Pihelgas, were tasked with photographing the Song and Dance Festival of 2014. The exhibition presents only a selection out of the the many thousand of pictures that were taken. Its title, Estonian Colours, refers to the colors of the Estonian Flag (Blue, Black and White), but it is also meant to draw our attention to the beauty of the Estonian traditions and crafts.
“You can see the Estonian flag waving everywhere in the Song and Dance Festival,” said Mr. Paidla. “But we also consider Estonian colors the beautiful palette of tones and hues one can see in our folk costumes. They are unique, colorful pieces of hand-made art, and the patterns come from every parish and from every single corner of Estonia.”
The exhibition will remain open until 31 July 2017 at Rue Belliard 99, Foyer 6
Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Friday: 8.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.