Estonia’s Summer Capital, Pärnu, is a charming, old-fashioned seaside resort just one-and-a half-hours South of Tallinn which holds an important place in the hearts of many Estonians and in particular the Järvi family. It was here that they came every summer to spend the two month summer vacation with Neeme's mother before emigrating to the States in 1980 during Soviet occupation. And it is the place where the family were eventually able to reunite after Estonian Independence, to create their long-dreamed of festival - a chance to showcase the culture and beauty of their native country and nurture the next generation of musicians.
Now in its seventh year the 2017 Pärnu Music Festival runs from 10 - 17 August and is special as it celebrates the 80th birthday of Neeme Järvi, reuniting friends and family for an important milestone.
Whilst the traditional highlights of the Pärnu Music Festival are the conducting masterclasses and performances by the Estonian Festival Orchestra, Neeme Järvi has been "persuaded" to relinquish his backseat role and take to the podium for this year's opening festival concert on 10 August. Joining him are the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and soloist Kolja Blacher in a programme featuring the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Estonian composer Jaan Rääts. Neeme will then be able to change back into his much prized Pärnu Festival tee-shirt and resume his passion for guiding the young musicians on the Järvi Academy courses.
With a festival which places the orchestra at its heart, Neeme and Paavo Järvi are on hand throughout the week to advise the young musicians participating in both the annual Järvi Conducting Academyand Academy Youth Orchestra, which are the focus of festival concerts on 11 and 12 August.
Paavo Järvi and The Estonian Festival Orchestra take to the stage for two performances in the second half of the festival with a focus on the music of Beethoven, Nielsen, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, featuring guest artists, Radu Lupu and Lisa Batishivili. The much talked of ensemble, which Paavo founded in 2011, brings together the best of Estonian professional talent and invited musicians from orchestras throughout Europe. “An important component in creating the Estonian Festival Orchestra was to ‘match-make’ the players in a professional way but within the festival atmosphere” says Järvi. “This unifying spirit is what drives the orchestra and results in a passionate energy which brings us all even closer together."
Until now the Estonian Festival Orchestra has only performed in Pärnu but this summer it makes its first tour with perfromances around the Baltic coast, thanks to the co-operation of the Estonia 100 programme and the Ministry of Culture. The summer tour includes concerts in Latvia (14 August),Finland (19 August), Denmark (22 August) and Sweden (24 August). In January 2018, Estonian Festival Orchestra will make its second international tour with concerts in Brussels, Zurich, Vienna, Cologne, Berlin, and Luxembourg.