"It has long been my dream to create an orchestra which has grown out of the festival spirit with joy and unity at its core. When we started the Pärnu Music Festival the dream became a reality and now, six yours later, the Estonian Festival Orchestra is a real living animal with a beating heart and an appetite for adventure." Paavo Järvi
The Estonian Festival Orchestra was founded by Paavo Järvi in 2011 and made its debut at the newly inaugurated Pärnu Music Festival as the resident summer orchestra on the Baltic coast. From these small beginnings both the festival and orchestra have grown in reputation and are now beginning to make a name for themselves on the international scene.
The long dreamed-of ambition by Järvi to create a hand-picked orchestra, bringing together the best of Estonian talent and leading musicians from around the world, has resulted in performances at the Pärnu Music Festival which The Arts Desk has reviewed as “begging comparison with the elasticity of Abbado’s concerts with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which is as good as it can get”. The BBC Music Magazine added “There isn’t a hint of a hothouse environment on stage – these are simply musicians having the time of their lives, no small thanks to the inspiring Paavo Järvi himself.” Last but not least, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented “This is highly concentrated music making where all the details are worked out: the ping pong of accents between violins and horns, antiphons between the woodwind groups, targeted focus curves in the second violins. Nothing is sweeping, nothing sleepy and nothing washed away.”
These reviews encapsulate Paavo Järvi’s goals in bringing colleagues and friends together to create a new orchestra which could grow out of the festival spirit. “An important component in creating the orchestra was to “match-make” the players in a professional way but within the festival atmosphere” says Järvi. “If you are a young player in Estonia, it doesn’t matter how good you are, its hard to make contact with a top player in the west. Now we can give these young musicians the advantage to both play with top colleagues from around Europe and get to know them as new friends. This spirit is what drives the orchestra and makes me particularly proud as it's father figure."
Until now the Estonian Festival Orchestra has performed only in Pärnu but in August 2017 it will make its first tour performing in neighbouring countries around the Baltic coast and at Scandinavia’s most prominent festivals. In January 2018 the orchestra will then spread its wings further afield with concerts already planned in the major European capitals, including Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich and Luxembourg. This tour, which also celebrates the 100th anniversary of Estonian Independence, will include a new orchestral work by Estonian composer, Erkki-Sven Tüür, which will receive its international premiere in Brussels on 18 January 2018.
These two important milestones for the orchestra are made possible by the support of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and Estonia 100, as well as artist management HarrisonParrott, all of which have embraced Paavo Järvi’s vision to bring greater recognition to his native country and celebrate Estonia’s cultural identity within Europe.
Estonia – with its relatively short-lived history of independence and much longer history of occupation - retains a close identity with it's neighbours: Finland, Denmark, Germany and Russia are all closely tied with Estonia’s history and culture and so is the music of composers such as Sibelius, Nielsen, Mahler and Shostakovich which are integral to the orchestra’s repertoire.Paavo Järvi, Founder and Music Director of the Estonian Festival Orchestra: "It has long been my dream to create an orchestra which has grown out of the festival spirit with joy and unity at its core. When we started the Pärnu Music Festival the dream became a reality and now, six yours later, the Estonian Festival Orchestra is a real living animal with a beating heart and an appetite for adventure. The next step is to bring the orchestra to audiences abroad and I am delighted that Estonia 100 and the Ministry of Culture have granted their support for this musical mission.”
Jaanus Rohumaa,, Head of the Organising Committee of Estonia 100: "When you look at a world map then Estonia seems small in size but there has always been people who make it look larger. Their professional dedication and way of life makes them special ambassadors who let the world know about the things we value and care about. There is no doubt that Paavo Järvi is one of those ambassadors for Estonia and it’s culture. As Estonia 100 marks a very special moment in the history of our country, we are particularly glad that Paavo Järvi and the musicians of the Estonian Festival Orchestra will be ambassadors in bringing audiences around the world a greater appreciation of Estonian culture. It is also a privilege that Estonia 100 will be a part of the vision that brings joy to audiences around Europe and presents a very special gift."Jasper Parrott, Executive Chairman of Harrison Parrott: “These are difficult times for the great European project which has brought hundreds of millions of EU citizens huge advances in prosperity and freedoms from oppression and cultural exclusion. It is exciting to see Estonia taking a lead in promoting cultural and artistic values as essential ingredients of civil societies. We are proud to be working together with Paavo Järvi and all of his and our colleagues to help in the launch of his dream: The Estonian Festival Orchestra.”
Ulrich Hauschild, Director BOZAR MUSIC: “The Center for Fine Arts Brussels (BOZAR) is proud and happy to welcome Paavo Järvi and his Estonian Festival Orchestra for the opening concert of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 18, 2018. This will mark the Brussels' debut of the Estonian Festival Orchestra as well as the premiere of a new orchestral work written for this occasion by Erkki-Sven Tüür. I share Paavo Järvi's passion for bringing together the very best young Estonian and European musicians and their commitment for "making music as friends" (as Leonard Bernstein described it so accurately). I am looking forward to presenting this orchestra to the Belgian public within our major orchestra subscription series.”