SUN—April 7—2:30 PM, free




Discover the music of Veljo Tormis (1930–2017), one of the most important Estonian composers of the late 20th century, through a performance, screening and book discussion on April 7!

Veljo Tormis’s compositions were profoundly based on the ancient traditional songs of the Estonian people — runic songs or regilaul. One of the goals of his professional life (in which he succeeded) was to restore that music to a central place in Estonian culture, which proved to be of great importance to a culture that had been subjugated by the Soviet Union for over 50 years. Since then, other Estonian composers have been influenced by his combination of ancient and contemporary styles.

In today’s program, experience the Estonian folk-style music that has evolved from regilaul through a performance by Celia Roose (vocals, bagpaipes and garmon) and Ants Johanson (vocals, guitar); see the documentary short The One & Only, exploring how Veljo Tormis influenced his companions such as former Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid, composer Arvo Pärt, and others; and explore the digital photo exhibition Isa Ise / Father Himself by Tõnu Tormis (Veljo Tormis’s son), which provides an exceptionally vivid vision through Veljo’s character from 1964-2000. Concluding the event will be a conversation with Mimi Daitz, author of the book Ancient Song Recovered: The Life and Music of Veljo Tormis (now in its 2nd edition), as well as a book-signing.

The event is part of Estonian Cultural Days in New York. On April 6th you are invited to take part of runic song (regilaul) workshop lead by Celia Roose at Estonian House.

The event is organized in partnership with Veljo Tormis Virtual Center, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Consulate General of Estonia and Foundation for Estonian Arts and Letters.

About the Performers

Ants Johanson‘s life has been deeply influenced by the legacy of composer Veljo Tormis. A music school teacher, Johanson is actively involved in cultural organizations and has a diverse background in folkloristics. He is dedicated to promoting Tormis’s work through various platforms and live performances with his siblings Johansons.

Celia Roose is dedicated to preserving Estonia’s rich song culture. As a renowned Estonian musician, choir conductor, and music educator, her various releases include “Suurõ’ pilvõ'” (2010) and “REGIRAM” (2019) with the Estonian National Male Choir. Her solo album “Regijoon” (2016) showcases Southern Estonian songware and reg songs for adults. Celia regularly performs runic songs and contributes to theater projects such as “Estonian Ballads” and “Estonian Women’s Songs.”

About the Author

Mimi S. Daitz was born and mostly went to school in New York City, though her parents introduced her to France when she was 10 years old. While in the High School of Music and Art, Mimi sang international folk songs and conducted the senior chorus. She has taught in the Music Department of the City College of the City University of New York where she conducted its chorus.

Photo © Tõnu Tormis