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Asian Adventure

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The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (let's just call them epcc!) has always been a bit more daring and adventurous than other vocal ensembles. Their close relationship with Arvao Pärt, who has regularly written pieces especially for them and their distinct sound, has allowed for their fame to rise in sync with the composer's. In 20 years of dedicated work, Tönu Kaljuste has managed to create an institution and in allowing Paul Hillier to step in, he found the right person to allow the choir to keep growing organically.

2005 has been an especially good year for the epcc. They released three new CDs, all of which were ravingly received by the press and audiences worldwide. "Baltic Voices 3", the latest offering, is out now on Harmonia Mundi (their main label, even though they enjoyed a pleasant stint at BIS earlier this year) and offers a great mix of the region's composers. Then there was the "Composition Competition" in April, which rewarded three outstanding new pieces and performed them at the Estonian Music Days - an excellent way of fostering new talent. Playing at the Proms was a further milestone for the ensemble, as was celebrating Pärts 70th birthday at the occasion.

Now, they have just finished a short tour through Asia, singing in Macau and Taiwan. The famous Macau Festival saw them perform the repertoire of their Rachmaninov disc "All Night Vigil" and just a night later, they appeared at Taipe's National Concert Hall with the same program. Especially befitting was the co-operation with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, which is also one of the rare orchestras in the world that combines their love for Classical music with a will to transport its legacy into the present - it was the first to record Beethoven's ninth and played an important part in establishing the country's music scene. How better to recognise each other's importance than by honouring two composers that both stand for the "new" and the "old" alike: Bach and Pärt.

With this in mind, it seems as though the epcc is set to break into Asia as well. And with a website, that already looks good and is set to be improved even more they are firmly installed in the Digital World as well. If you've missed them up to now, you've missed an important part of the last and this century's vocal music.

Homepage: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Homepage: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at Van Walsum

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